“The Commission has concerns regarding the licensee’s ability and commitment to operate the station in a compliant manner.”
With that standard phrasing, the CRTC is once again threatening Montreal radio station CJWI 1410 AM (CPAM Radio Union) with revoking its licence over repeated failure to meet licence conditions.
The owners of the station, and two others in a similar situation (CICR-FM Parrsboro, N.S., and CKVM-FM Ville-Marie, Que.) have been called to appear at a hearing on April 5 to explain why their licences should be renewed despite their repeated failures, including in their current licence terms.
The station’s last licence renewal came in 2020, along with several mandatory orders requiring it to comply with its conditions of licence, and just after the commission refused to renew the licence of sister station CJMS 1040.
The latest apparent failures (CJWI is still being given the chance to explain how they are still in compliance) relate to a regulation requiring they provide a “complete and accurate” list of all musical pieces played on the air, and a requirement that at least 35% of non-pop music played be Canadian.
In correspondence with the commission, CJWI blamed the former on software it was using that did not count musical selections played for less than 12 seconds, and blamed the latter on the difficulty of finding Canadian specialty music of interest to the Haitian community.
If CJWI is found to be in non-compliance again, it would be the fifth consecutive licence term in which the station is not complying with its licence conditions. And it would be the second consecutive licence term in which it has failed to comply with a mandatory order requiring it to respect the regulation about having a complete and accurate music list. These are very serious matters and the CRTC can’t just let them go and maintain credibility as a regulator.
But revoking CJWI’s licence, or refusing to renew it, might not be the best thing for the broadcasting system. There isn’t much demand for AM frequencies these days (1040 AM remains vacant) and this is the only station specifically serving the Haitian community.
In a separate but related application also being heard in this proceeding, CJWI is asking the CRTC for amendments to its conditions of licence regarding music quotas. Since the CRTC is saying it failed to meet those quotas, it is unlikely to grant such changes.
Other stations are also in front of the commission to have their licences renewed, but with less ominous stakes. They include Radio Ville-Marie (CIRA-FM 91.3) in Montreal, which the CRTC says failed to meet Canadian and French-language music quotas.
The CRTC is accepting comments on these files until Feb. 9. Note that all information submitted, including contact information, becomes part of the public record.