After more than a decade of the station failing to meet its licence obligations, the CRTC decided Friday it has had enough, and refused to renew the licence of St-Constant country music station CJMS 1040 AM. As a result, it will no longer legally be allowed on the air after Aug. 31.
In light of the severity and recurrence of the current instances of non-compliance; of the station’s history of non-compliance and the licensee’s actions, which demonstrate a poor understanding of its conditions of licence and regulatory obligations, or a lack of willingness to respect them; of its inability to implement the necessary measures to ensure compliance; and of its disregard for the Commission’s authority and for its responsibilities as a broadcaster, the Commission is convinced that the imposition of conditions of licence or of mandatory orders, a suspension, or a short-term licence renewal would not be effective measures. Consequently, the Commission finds that not renewing the licence is the only appropriate measure in the circumstances.
In a separate decision also released Friday, the commission also refused to renew the licence of troublesome station CFOR-FM Maniwaki.
CJMS, which launched in 1999, has a long history of licence compliance issues, and might have had the licence revoked in 2013 had its owner of the time, Alexandre Azoulay, not agreed to sell it to Jean Ernest Pierre, owner of Haitian station CJWI (CPAM 1410). When CJMS was last asked to appear before the commission, Azoulay surprised the commissioners by blaming his father’s dementia for the compliance issues.
There’s also the fact that Michel Mathieu, a broadcast consultant who was the original licensee of CJMS, filed a strongly-worded intervention demanding the CRTC pull the license.
The decision should worry Pierre about the future of CJWI, which like CJMS has a long list of compliance issues and was the subject of mandatory orders that appeared to be insufficient to keep it in line. But CJWI has more original programming and is more vital to its community than CJMS, and the fact that the CRTC didn’t issue a decision Friday, giving the stations exactly one month before they were to shut down, suggests it might be given one last chance.
CJMS could appeal the decision, by asking the federal government to intervene or by asking the federal court to overturn the decision if it can find some error in law. Pierre told the Journal de Montréal he’s looking at options. But neither are likely to succeed. Instead, if someone wants to start a new commercial radio station serving St-Constant, there’s a transmitter that can probably be bought for pretty cheap.
Other country options
So if you’re a fan of country music in Montreal, where can you go for your fix? There aren’t any big commercial country stations here like in other Canadian markets, but you have options besides going online:
- CKKI-FM 89.9 (KIC Country) Kahnawake, which can be heard through most of the island
- CKRK-FM 103.7 (K103) Kahnawake, which airs country music on weekends
- CHAA-FM-HD-2 103.3 Longueuil — the HD Radio channel just launched and carries a country music format
- CKYQ-FM (Hit Country) 95.7 Plessisville — part of Arsenal Media’s new country brand, though you’ll have to be far enough east to hear the station over Virgin 95.9.
- WVNV (Wild Country) 96.5 Malone, N.Y. — gets a better signal on the west side of Montreal and southwest of the city
UPDATE (Aug. 29): It looks like for the time being the plan is to keep CJMS running as an online-only radio station once its licence expires. Program director Jocelyn Benoit posted on Facebook that it would continue streaming as of Sept. 1, and he renamed the station’s Facebook group and page from “CJMS 1040” to “CJMS 2.0”.
UPDATE (Sept. 1): CJMS went off the air at 38 seconds after midnight on Sept. 1. I recorded its final minute on air, which ended with announcer Jocelyn Benoit being cut off mid-sentence.
A new website is being worked on at cjms.ca.