TTP Media’s 600 and 940 stations go off the air

Damage to the transmitter caused by a wind storm caused TTP Media’s two Montreal radio stations to go off the air, and the need to order parts means it will be early in the new year before they’re transmitting again, co-owner Nicolas Tétrault tells me.

CFNV 940 AM and CFQR 600 AM have been on the air since 2016 and 2017, respectively, each taking five years to get on the air after getting their licences from the CRTC.

For nearly a decade, Montrealers unsatisfied with commercial talk radio stations have been eagerly anticipating what was promised. But that eagerness has faded as year after year brings no news about programming (except for a deal CFNV reached with the similarly-named CNV to provide mainly music programming).

Tétrault says talk programming is coming soon, and they are very proactive on setting it up. Talk programs on CFQR, the English station, could start as early as February, he told me.

Considering past promises of launching soon, it’s best not to hold your breath waiting for it.

UPDATE (Feb. 19): CFQR 600 AM is back on the air.

16 thoughts on “TTP Media’s 600 and 940 stations go off the air

  1. Brett

    I was listening the day it went silent. In morning it was music then when I returned to listen in the evening it was silent. At night other stations would cut in and out

    Reply
  2. Lance Campeau

    In 2019, the pool of ad revenue has been spread out too thin to make starting up a new radio station viable. When considering that radio broadcasting is expensive, mired in red tape and no longer a growth business, I suggest the investors have probably moved on to more profitable ventures.

    Less ears, less money, less profit.

    Reply
    1. Anonymous

      I agree with most of your points. But, people will tune in if you have content worth listening to. Most listeners are drifting away as they discover better content either through podcasts, web streaming services, and even SiriusXM which now does both Satellite and streaming with your subscription. So, it’s really up to the stations programming that can keep the listeners tuning in.

      As for the red tape. Now that’s not a market based problem. That’s the government making things hard for stations. And in the end not helping stations at all. Also, special interest groups who constantly complain about what stations air, as they try to control content. Listeners don’t have to put up with this. They’ll drift away.

      I’ll give you an example. I personally listen to more audio (radio), than visual (TV, streaming), than ever before. And the majority of that is podcasts (out of market talk radio), and SiriusXM. If the local radio stations had better content, that share would go back to them. But, content that’s designed to be more filler than content will certainly push me away.

      Basically, local radio stations have to up their game, or else this will continue. Free OTA radio is always more economical for the listener than a subscription service. A radio can be used anywhere. In a office, kitchen etc. A phone with a data plan has limits. Most of my podcast listening is being downloaded on my phone. then I Bluetooth the phone to my HD Radio which has a Bluetooth connect. In the end, I’m listening to a radio. But, better content than what is being offered by local OTA stations.

      It’s all about content.

      Reply
      1. Dilbert

        “As for the red tape. Now that’s not a market based problem. That’s the government making things hard for stations. ”

        In Canada, this is just not true. The red tape is most often a “market” problem. The CRTC has decided that it, and it alone, can decide if a market can support a new radio or TV station. It of course consults with the incumbents, which means generally the answer is always “no”.

        This “red tape” perpetuates business models that are almost entirely bottom line focused, and not product focused. You get large companies controlling the vast majority of the airwaves because they can do things just a little cheaper than smaller companies, and they can in turn sell advertising and such at lower rates. It’s a race to the bottom!

        “Basically, local radio stations have to up their game,”

        This isn’t going to happen. Radio (and TV) has been going through mass consolidation. Radio is a purely bottom line affair now. Declining revenues and disappearing listeners are not truly huge concerns when there are still ways to cut costs to make the bottom line. Ad revenue down 10%? Get rid of expensive on air personalities and replace them with cheaper ones. Merge departments, eliminate inter-station overlap on traffic, sports, news, administration, office rent, and anything else you can think of. Then when that doesn’t make it work out, transfer jobs to Toronto and eliminate as much local as you can.

        There isn’t much meat left on that bone to be fair, but companies like Bell seem to have no problem shaving a little bone too.

        You also have to remember that companies like Bell are also deep in the markets that are taking consumers away from radio. Bell mobility and Bell Internet make tons of money connecting people, and when they use too much bandwidth replacing radio with streaming, they make even more money. When they lose on one side, they win on the other. It’s why Bell Inc (whatever name they are this year) makes billions of profit.

        They don’t operate radio stations to entertain you or anything of that nature. They operate them to keep making income and to stop actual competition (see red tape, above). It’s how the game is played!

        Reply
        1. Fagstein Post author

          The CRTC has decided that it, and it alone, can decide if a market can support a new radio or TV station. It of course consults with the incumbents, which means generally the answer is always “no”.

          I’m not sure how something can “generally” be “always” something, but in any case the CRTC has approved new commercial radio stations in markets including Toronto, Calgary and Montreal, so clearly those incumbents don’t have a veto.

          Reply
          1. Dilbert

            There is little or no reason for an in market station to say “yes, please, send competition!”, so the answer is always no. There are exceptions, such as when a community station, or low power station comes into play. At that point, many won’t argue too hard.

            In incumbents don’t have an absolute veto.

            As for the Calgary station, it was actually approved for Cochrane, Alberta, with Calgary being in it’s secondary contour. It was also effectively replacing an existing re-transmitter for an existing Calgary station. It was contoured specifically to keep it from being a primary station in the Calgary marketplace, and the station is oriented towards it’s market (it’s called Cochrane.Now). It’s quite likely that if they had asked to be in the Calgary market directly, they would have been refused – and they were even refused a few years earlier because the CRTC didn’t feel there was a marketplace for them.

            New commercial stations for Montreal have been limited to the AM band, and those stations so far have not produced any notable programming or competition in the marketplace.

            The only other new stations I could find were Indigenous stations, which appeared mostly to replace the failed Indigenous network that existed before.

            Reply
            1. Fagstein Post author

              As for the Calgary station, it was actually approved for Cochrane, Alberta, with Calgary being in it’s secondary contour.

              I’m actually referring to the 2011 process that resulted in the awarding of two new stations in Calgary, including a commercial one for the Pattison group (Wild 95.3).

              New commercial stations for Montreal have been limited to the AM band

              That’s simply because there’s no more space left on the FM band. Some attempts have been made to get around that, either with low-power stations (generally community or ethnic stations) or stations just outside the city (like The Jewel in Hudson).

              Reply
  3. mediaman15

    OK, so do they have a studio location yet? I heard from a very very reliable source that it was downtown somewhere..

    And if they’re saying February, staff has gotten somewhat selected or talked to, and some poaching has to also somewhat attempted by now.

    Reply
  4. Eamon Hoey

    In 2012 – 7 years ago -TTP was awarded 3 AM stations to serve the Montreal area. AM 600, 850 and 940. TTP sought and obtained several extensions to its initial licenses. It appears to have reliquishs the 850 license.AM 600 and 940 did finally technically come on air. It has over the last several years produced no live programming. To put it simply it has been operating a Muzak like operation over scarce radio frequency resources.

    TTP has utterly failed to meet the promises it made at the 2012 public hearings. It has failed to provide an English talk and sports radio stations.. That the CRTC has permitted this shameful charade to persist is remarkable. It shows how lax the CRTC rules can be for family and friends of the CRTC. Incredibly the CRTC most recently renewed these licenses.

    TTP recently announced a new financial strategy. It intends to raise foreign investment capital necessary to launch its programming. It now claims that it is impossible to raise operating capital on the Canadian capital markets. All of which suggest, where did TTP expect back in 2012 to raise the operating capital to meet its licensing requirements? Was it not aware back then that the CDN capital markets would not fund its market entry? Did it simply knowingly obstificate the truth?

    It is time the CRTC requires TTP within 120 days begin to provide live programming, as per its promise of performance, or relinquish its licenses. It is a weak CRTC that coninues to permit the TTP charade. It is the same CRTC that has permitted First Nations to operate pirate radio stations.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      It shows how lax the CRTC rules can be for family and friends of the CRTC. Incredibly the CRTC most recently renewed these licenses.

      TTP Media are hardly family or friends of the CRTC. They applied for radio stations in Toronto and Calgary and lost both. They originally applied for 940 and 690 in Montreal, bluffing that their plan would not work without both frequencies. They were given only one of them.

      The problem is that, rather than establish specific conditions of licence for the AM stations based on the promises the group made at the 2011 hearings, the CRTC simply gave them standard commercial AM licenses, which have very few requirements related to programming. Even though they haven’t produced a single talk show or news broadcast themselves, the licences were deemed in compliance on that front.

      Reply
  5. Eamon

    Because they lost in Toronto and Calgary says nothing. Maybe it was learning how to put together an application that was competitive. Moreover, many other applicants including Bel media have not been awarded a license for which they applied. We forget that they also applied for a third frequency 850 which they were awarded. They then proceeded to abandon 850!

    Yes both were clear channels. Why would the CRTC award to TTP both of these choice frequencies. In congested markets such as Toronto many applicants do not get that for which they apply. The same applies to Montreal. To go a bit further try obtaining an FM frequency in the Eastern Townships.

    I do not hesitate o say, in the eyes of the CRTC, where there is competition for frequencies there is always a more needy applicant, such as CBC. If you look at the choice frequencies CBC has obtained you have to wonder if in the “Public Interest” the CRTC does not bend to favor CBC.

    Yup, the CRTC set few programming requirements. By contrast it demands more of Community Radio. The Commission has well established expectations of Community radio that require significant regulatory knowledge to unravel..

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      690 and 940 are Class A clear channels in Montreal (along with 730, used by CKAC Radio Circulation). 600 and 850 are Class B channels and not clear channel.

      I do not hesitate o say, in the eyes of the CRTC, where there is competition for frequencies there is always a more needy applicant, such as CBC.

      Despite the unusually competitive 2011 hearing for AM frequencies, there is virtually no competition for AM channels in Canada. Of the five applicants at that 2011 hearing, four were eventually given frequencies, and the fifth, a Cogeco plan for an English traffic station, was abandoned. There remain open frequencies, including 650 and 850, if someone wants to try launching a new AM station.

      Reply

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