Do you listen to Radio Circulation 730? Maybe you should, because you’re still paying for it.
Last month, the Quebec government renewed its no-bid contract with Cogeco Media to subsidize the Montreal traffic information station, agreeing to pay it up to $7,738,965 for five years, or $1,547,793 per year.
Cogeco Media doesn’t break down budgets for individual radio stations, but we know from CRTC filings that the average cost to run its radio stations is about $3 million a year, and when Cogeco first applied to the CRTC for a new licence to run a new all-traffic radio station in 2010 (and an anglophone equivalent on another AM frequency), it budgeted about $2 million, rising with inflation.
So I think it would be fair to say that taxpayers are footing about half the cost of running this station that consistently performs at the bottom of Numeris radio ratings (which is not unexpected since no one is going to tune in for more than a few minutes at a time).
The last contract between the government and Cogeco, which has been posted online because of an access-to-information request, was signed in 2018 for three years and renewable for two more, at a cost of $1.37 million a year. Besides agreeing to run the all-traffic station, Cogeco also provides some advertising time and a weekly interview.
Whether this is a good investment is up for debate. But a 2014 survey showed 40% of drivers had tuned into the station at least once, so the government seems to think there’s at least some use to it.
And it’s not like the traffic situation is going to get much better soon.