Montreal’s Haitian radio station, and the AM country station it bought after its previous owner had extensive licence compliance issues, are trying the patience of the CRTC. But the commission is giving each of them another chance to get their administration in order.
On Friday, the commission renewed each of their licences for two years, with requirements that they broadcast messages on air acknowledging their non-compliance, and with three mandatory court orders each requiring them to be in compliance with their licence conditions.
“The Commission is concerned with the licensee’s ability and commitment to operate the station in a compliant manner,” it wrote in each of the decisions.
CJWI 1410 (CPAM Radio Union) was found in non-compliance with licence conditions related to:
- Timely filing of annual financial reports
- Timely response to CRTC requests for audio recordings and information
- Keeping and producing proper records of music played on air (one request for information was never answered)
- Timely filing of proof of financial contributions to Canadian content development
- On-air announcements about previous non-compliance (the broadcasts did not use the exact wording laid out by the CRTC)
This is the third consecutive licence term in which CJWI has been in non-compliance. In other words, the station has never fully complied with its licence conditions since it launched in 2002. In 2008, the commission found the 2007 annual return was filed late and gave a four-year licence renewal. In 2015, the commission found once again annual returns were filed late (four years’ worth were filed simultaneously, and the fifth three months later), as well as proof of Canadian content contributions. It imposed a $2,500 de facto fine and broadcast of shame messages noting their non-compliance.
The excuses given by CPAM for the failure to comply are also getting repetitive, usually blaming some nameless employee or accountant for not knowing the rules. (Though the excuse that records were destroyed in a firebombing is a pretty good one.) Its promise that someone will take charge of ensuring paperwork is filed rings hollow in light of its repeated failures.
CJMS 1040 was found in non-compliance with conditions of licence related to:
- Timely filing of annual reports (one year’s was never filed)
- Responses to requests for information (a request was never answered despite several reminders)
- Production of audio recordings on demand (a request was not fulfilled)
The latter to contradict mandatory orders issued by the CRTC in 2014. Failure to comply with such an order could result in a contempt of court proceeding. But here the commission seems content to simply issue new mandatory orders that may or may not be followed.
This is the fifth consecutive licence term that CJMS has been found in non-compliance, but the first under this owner. Like CJWI, CJMS has never fully complied with its licence. CJMS’s licence had already seen short-term renewals since its launch in 1999:
- In 2006, for two years (French-language music, logger tapes, annual returns, Canadian content contributions)
- In 2008, for two years (Canadian content development, annual returns)
- In 2010, for four years (Canadian content development, music lists, newscasts)
- In 2014, for three years (Canadian content development, annual returns, logger tapes, program logs, requests for information)
Both licence renewal decisions make clear that the commission is losing patience, and that a further failure to meet licence conditions could result in the stations losing their licences entirely.
In the meantime, mandatory orders have been issued requiring each station provide:
- Program logs and audio recordings on request of the CRTC
- Reponses to requests for information from the CRTC
- Full annual returns by the deadline
I’m pessimistic that either station will be fully in compliance two years from now. But hopefully they’ll be close enough that the commission decides to give them yet another chance.
There sure seem to be a few AM stations in Montreal with little or no purpose
Hope CJMS can get things in order. I enjoy once and a while listening to the French country music. Would be a shame if Montreal where to lose its only source for French country music.
In addition to the non-compliance issues, I think they have probably been put on notice by Industry Canada with respect to the lighting of their antenna towers at their transmitter site. I understand that the matter was passed along to Transport Canada who I was told manage the marking and lighting issues at antenna sites. All lights on all towers have been out for many weeks now but they seem to be doing nothing about it. I actually passed by early this morning, prior to sunrise, and the lights were all still out.
The CRTC Decision 2018-168 and subsequesnt Orders are inreasonbable, unfair and unjust to all broadcaters that had submitted to the requirements of the CRTC. CJWI1410 AM and CJMS 1040 AM have giving the finger to the CRTC for 11 Years. How much more bad behavior can we expect the CRTC to tolerate. Apparently lots more!
The secondary issue respecting the above entities is that these two stations are occupying frequencies others might put to better use.The CRTC is denying unreasonably access to scarce frequencies.
But that is not all folks. Consider the award of licenses to TTP Media in 2011 for CFQR 600AM, CFNV 940AM, and 850AM. TTP for undisclosed reasons abandoned the 850AM license. As of April 24 the CFQR and CFNV were off air. According to one of their technicians they were “tuning” their towers.More tech reasons for delaying fullfilling their licensing requirements. TTP, like CJWI and CJMS, received several extensions to their licenses. It should be obvious to the CRTC that TTP is not in compliance with their licensing requirements.They are squatting on highly desirable frequencies. Shame on the CRTC for their lack of resolve to ensure their licensing requirement are fully observed. Shame on them to have denyied others access to these frequencies.
It is time the CRTC shut down stations thatby virtue of not being in compliance with CRTC requirements are denying others access to scarce frequencies. CRTC Chairman Ian Scott needs to take more effective action. It is no longer sufficient to just pass paper around.
CJMS has had two owners in that time, keep in mind. Its new owner shouldn’t be responsible for the behaviour of the previous one.
I’m unconvinced that the AM band in Montreal is scarce. There is little to no demand for new stations, and several frequencies could be open including 650 and 850.
They said the reason was technical — their existing transmitter could not be made to work on all three frequencies, and a transmission site on Ile Perrot was objected to by local residents.
“Timely filing of annual financial reports”
What! What business is this of the CRTC? If the company is publicly traded, or having to report to a Tax department, I can understand. But report this to the CRTC! How is this the CRTC’s business. Total over reach of this department. The federal government needs to straighten this department up.
On another point, Since some of the stations on license have not delivered on their promises (such as the two TTP owned stations), I would suggest the CRTC stop pretending this whole dog and pony show process of who gets and who doesn’t get a license. License other stations that may actual offer something the market wants or needs.
850AM has opened up since TTP dropped it after receiving a license. Well, ask if anybody else want to apply for it.
Also, way too many stations owned in this market by Bell, and Cogeco. Especially on the FM Band.
Time to open up the market to more completion. Enough of this frequency squatting.
There are several reasons the CRTC needs financial information from a company that has a broadcasting licence — establishing licence fees, compiling aggregated financial information for the industry, ensuring that financial contributions are properly made, ensuring that licence conditions concerning spending are respected. In most cases, this information is treated as confidential and is not released to the public.
The CRTC has a process for new applications. Generally, anyone can make an application for a new station, and then the commission will begin a process to determine if there should be a more general call. If others present themselves, it can call a hearing and evaluate all the applications. Otherwise, it can proceed with the initial application for a new station. In other words, if someone wants to try setting up a station at 850 AM, they can just go ahead and apply for it.
This is a legitimate criticism, and is mainly due to the fact that French and English are treated as separate markets in the CRTC’s common ownership policy. So each company can own up to two FM stations in each language. Cogeco got an exception to that policy so it could own a third FM station in French. The result is that eight FM stations (The Beat, Énergie, Virgin, CKOI, CHOM, 98.5, Rythme FM, Rouge FM) are owned by two companies, leaving little room on the band for independents.