Tag Archives: St. Lazare

CRTC approves Hudson/St. Lazare radio station

Coverage area of proposed FM station in Hudson/St. Lazare provided by Dufferin Communications

The Montreal area is getting another radio station. On Friday, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission approved an application from Dufferin Communications Inc. for an English-language radio station in Hudson/St. Lazare.

The station would be a local one, with 500 watts of effective power, operating on 106.7 MHz and playing easy-listening music, similar to that of its other stations that are part of the Jewel network. (Dufferin says the station’s branding hasn’t been decided yet, but “Jewel” is an option.) The application called for 110 hours a week of local programming, including four hours and 22 minutes a week of “pure news”, of which half would be local to the area.

I summarize the decision in this story for The Gazette’s new Off Island section, which targets this community.

This will certainly mean jobs for journalists and radio workers in the region. Dufferin vice-president Carmela Laurignano tells me they plan to hire 15-20 people in total to work at the station. The proposed station’s financial projections show revenue gradually growing from $480,000 the first year to $1 million in the seventh year of its license. Expenses would start at $700,000 (including a $90,000 startup cost) and reach $850,000 in the seventh year.

About 95% of its advertising revenue is expected to be local, with 20-30,000 minutes sold a year at an average rate of between $22 and $34 a minute.  Under these projections, the station would start making money in Year 4 and pay for itself in the seventh year.

The application was not without opposition:

  • Cogeco objected that there wasn’t an open call for applications for what can be considered Montreal’s last available FM frequency. (The frequency was used by Aboriginal Voices Radio until it shut down here, then on an unlicensed basis by Kahnawake Keeps It Country until it got a formal licence for 89.9FM.)
  • Groupe CHCR, which owns ethnic stations CKDG-FM and CKIN-FM in Montreal, objected that the station would negatively affect its station and others
  • CJVD-FM, which is a French-language commercial station in Vaudreuil, objected that the region could not accomodate two local stations that would have to compete with the larger stations in Montreal.
  • Groupe Radio Enfant told the CRTC it planned its own application for a station at 106.7 (the group had a temporary permit to operate a transmitter on that frequency in late 2009). The CRTC says it has received no such application.

In the end, the CRTC dismissed the objections. The commission found that the station’s pattern would not significantly compete with large Montreal radio stations because the signal does not reach far into Montreal. It did not compete with CJVD-FM because they’re in different languages, and most importantly 106.7 FM is not a viable frequency to use in Montreal itself because it is too close to CHCR’s CKIN-FM 106.3 and would cause too much interference. (Though CHCR itself applied to move CKDG-FM to that frequency from 105.1, thinking it would get a better signal. It later withdrew that application.)

Dufferin Communications is also the company behind Radio Fierté, a French-language music and talk station aimed at Montreal’s LGBT community that got CRTC approval to broadcast at 990 AM after CKGM vacates that frequency. Laurignano said they expect to get moving on that station in the new year.

Though Radio Fierté has already been approved, the Hudson/St. Lazare station’s application predates it. It was first filed in February 2010.

Dufferin Communications has two years to get the station running unless it asks for an extension from the CRTC. That means it must be up by Oct. 19, 2014. The licence expires on Aug. 31, 2019. Laurignano said they expect to have it on the air by the fall of 2013.

And by the way, fans of National Public Radio can breathe. Dufferin had listed as an alternative frequency in its application 107.9FM, which is the frequency used by the Vermont Public Radio transmitter that covers northern Vermont and much of Montreal. Unless someone else applies for that frequency (which isn’t protected from interference here), VPR can still be heard on it.

An English commercial radio station in Hudson/St. Lazare?

UPDATE (Oct. 19): The station has been approved by the CRTC.

Coverage area of proposed FM station in Hudson/St. Lazare provided by Dufferin Communications

Is Hudson part of Montreal?

I’m not asking on a technical level, but more on a psychological one. Do people in that triangle between Montreal and the Ontario border consider themselves part of the metropolitan area, or part of their own region? There’s a train that comes once a day to bring commuters into the city, and plenty of people who work on the island live in this region. But is it enough to say that these towns are mere suburbs of greater Montreal?

One Toronto-based company is arguing that it doesn’t, and that forms part of the basis for an application they have submitted to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission for a commercial FM radio station to serve the Hudson/St. Lazare area.

The company is Dufferin Communications. You might recognize them as the company that recently got CRTC approval to setup an AM radio station in Montreal with programming targeted at the region’s LGBT community. That station will be running on 990 AM after CKGM vacates the frequency to move to 690 – hopefully to be up and running by the fall.

I spoke to Dufferin VP Carmela Laurignano for an article that appears in the West Island section of Wednesday’s Gazette about the Hudson application.

This application, for an FM music station, actually predates the AM one, even though the CRTC heard the other one first. Much of the application dates from as far back as 2009. Laurignano said she didn’t know why the CRTC waited so long to hear this application, but that she understands they have a lot on their plate and such long waits are not unusual for matters that aren’t pressing.

Laurignano said the big reason behind this application is the sense that this is an underserved market. The region has a French-language commercial music station, CJVD-FM 100.1 in Vaudreuil, but no corresponding English station yet, even though its English-speaking population is large and getting larger.

The frequency

The application, which can be downloaded from the CRTC’s website here, is for an FM station at 106.7 MHz, with a 500 watt transmitter at a Bell tower on Route Harwood in Hudson. As you can see from the coverage map above, it would cover Hudson, St. Lazare, Rigaud, Vaudreuil-Dorion and the area around Oka, but wouldn’t reach much beyond that before it started seeing interference from WIZN 106.7 FM in Burlington, Vt., and to a lesser extent the adjacent-channel station CKQB 106.9 FM (The Bear) in Ottawa. There’s also a reserved but unused channel of 106.5 for a CBC station in Cornwall.

The frequency is important, because it’s considered the last really desirable one in the Montreal area. It was the former frequency of Aboriginal Voices Radio and was subsequently used by the pirate KKIC radio in Kahnawake before it got CRTC approval for a licensed station at 89.9.

And there’s another application pending for this frequency, too. Canadian Hellenic Cable Radio Ltd., the company behind CKDG (Mike) 105.1 FM and CKIN-FM 106.3, has applied to move the former to 106.7, keeping its transmitter location on Mount Royal but increasing its power. Because the coverage areas of CKDG and the proposed Hudson station would overlap, it’s unlikely the CRTC would allow both on the same frequency. UPDATE: CHCR withdrew its application to change CKDG’s frequency this week. Thanks to ATSC for spotting that through an update to the station’s Wikipedia page.

Dufferin’s application includes a backup frequency should the CRTC judge 106.7 improper. It’s 107.9FM. Assigning that frequency might anger National Public Radio fans in Montreal, as that’s the frequency used by the closest transmitter, in Burlington, Vt. Its reception here is quite good for a border station, but it would be hard to see it overcoming a much closer transmitter on the same frequency in Hudson.

The frequency is also less desirable for Dufferin because it’s adjacent to its own Jewel station at 107.7FM in Hawkesbury.

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