Public Notice CRTC 2000-13
Ottawa, 28 January 2000
See also: 2000-13-1
Community radio policy
This document sets out the Commission’s revised policy for community radio. The policy it replaces has been in place since 1992 (Public Notice CRTC 1992-38). The revised policy set out in this document streamlines the regulatory requirements by focusing on programming requirements that are simple, effective and easily measured. The Commission also seeks to give the community broadcasting sector greater scope to broaden its potential revenue sources, and to lessen the administrative burden. In developing the revised policy, the Commission considered the comments submitted on its proposed policy for community radio set out in Public Notice CRTC 1999-75.
Section 3(1)(b) of the Broadcasting Act (the Act) provides for a Canadian broadcasting system composed of public, private and community elements. Community radio stations are an important element of the Canadian broadcasting system. The programming of community stations complements that offered by other types of radio stations operating in the same market. It thus offers listeners a wider choice in both music and spoken word. This programming also reflects the interests of the communities served and contributes to the diversity of the Canadian broadcasting system.
Community stations are owned and controlled by not-for-profit organizations. Members of the community participate in all aspects of the operations of these stations.
The revised policy addresses a number of issues, including:
- the definition, role and mandate, and types of community radio stations;
- the various means to ensure that the programming offered by community stations, in particular Type B stations, provides an alternative to that provided by other types of stations;
- requirements for Canadian music, French-language vocal music and local talent development; and
- advertising on community stations.
The Commission also announces a streamlined approach for licensing low-power "developmental" community stations that may serve as a training ground, and allow for the future establishment of higher power community stations.
In Public Notice CRTC 1999-75, the Commission raised the matter of whether there should be any distinctions drawn between French- and English-language community stations, in addition to the different programming requirements that currently apply to French- and English-language hits. The Commission notes that none of the submissions addressed this particular question. The Commission is satisfied that its revised policy fully corresponds to the circumstances of both French- and English-language community stations.
01. In Public Notice CRTC 1997-105 dated 1 August 1997 (An agenda for reviewing the Commission’s policies for radio), the Commission announced plans to review all of its policies for radio in light of the evolving communications environment. As part of this overall agenda, the Commission indicated that it would launch a consultative process regarding community radio. The consultation phase of the community radio review was completed in the fall of 1998, following which the Commission issued its proposed policy for community radio (Public Notice CRTC 1999-75).
02. The Commission received 79 written comments concerning its policy proposals. Submissions included those from individual stations (community, campus and private), associations representing Canada’s community radio stations: the Alliance des radios communautaires (ARC) du Canada, the Association des radiodiffuseurs communautaires (ARC) du Québec and the National Campus and Community Radio Association (NCRA). The Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB), the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC) and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) also submitted comments, as did representatives of such music industry organizations as the Association québécoise de l’industrie du disque, du spectacle et de la vidéo (ADISQ), the Canadian Independent Record Production Association (CIRPA) and the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN). Other comments were submitted by community groups, advocacy groups, municipalities, Members of Parliament, and members of provincial legislatures.
03. With a few exceptions, the parties were generally favourable to the Commission's policy proposals. Matters attracting particularly strong interest included the proposed new definition of a community station, the proposed requirement that at least 5% of musical selections broadcast be selections from Category 3, and the proposed elimination of the restrictions on advertising.
04. The Commission considers that the primary objective of this policy is to strengthen the important role played by community radio in the Canadian broadcasting system by establishing programming requirements that are simple, effective and easily measured, while offering the community broadcasting sector greater scope to broaden its potential sources of revenue.
05. The Commission was pleased by the interest taken by parties in the consultation process and thanks all those who submitted written comments. Their contributions have been of great assistance to the Commission in its deliberations and analysis.
06. In the following sections of this notice, the Commission discusses its objectives for community radio and the various policy measures it will employ to attain those objectives.
07. The Commission intends to ensure that licensees can benefit from application of the streamlined programming requirements contained in the revised policy on community radio with the minimum possible delay.
08. Licensees whose licences expire in August 2000 will come under the revised policy and its requirements on the effective date of their licence renewal, that is to say, on 1 September 2000. The Commission will solicit renewal applications from these licensees in the near future.
09. Licensees whose licences expire after August 2000 are invited to file applications requesting licence amendments that would bring them in line with the revised policy. The Commission will provide application forms upon request. The amendments would take effect on the date these applications are approved by the Commission.
10. At a later date, the Commission will announce proposed amendments to the Radio Regulations, 1986 (the regulations) which will give effect to the Canadian content and French-language vocal music requirements set out in the revised policy on community radio.
The revised policy
11. This section sets out the various elements of the Commission's revised policy with respect to community radio.
Objectives for the community radio sector
12. The Commission’s primary objective for the community radio sector is that it provide a local programming service that differs in style and substance from that provided by commercial stations and the CBC. The programming should be relevant to the communities served, including official language minorities. The Commission considers that community stations should add diversity to the broadcasting system by increasing program choice in both music and spoken word. They should contribute to diversity at three levels:
- Community stations should offer programming that is different from and complements the programming of other stations in their market. Their not-for-profit nature and community access policies should assist them in contributing to the achievement of this objective.
- Community stations should be different from other elements of the broadcasting system, including commercial stations and stations operated by the CBC.
- The programming broadcast by individual community stations should be varied and provide a wide diversity of music and spoken word.
13. Certain community stations and ARC du Québec expressed concern that the Commission's primary objective for community stations is essentially defined in relationship to what commercial and CBC stations broadcast. ARC du Québec argued that the term "alternative programming" suggests that community stations are expected to adapt to the programming services offered by private radio stations, rather than respond to the needs of the communities they serve.
14. The Commission agrees that community stations, particularly type B stations, are expected to offer musical programming that is different from commercial radio fare and to broadcast music not generally played by commercial stations. At the same time, the Commission does not consider that fulfilment of this expectation is at odds with the objective that community stations should respond to the needs and interests of the communities they serve.
15. The Commission emphasizes that the type of music selected by commercial stations evolves with their audience and thus changes naturally over time. This is equally true of community stations. Community stations should thus adapt their musical programming to reflect the changing needs and interests of their own listeners, who are generally seeking less commercial and less middle-of-the-road music. By adapting in this manner, they continue to differentiate themselves from private radio stations.
16. With respect to cultural diversity, section 3(1)(d)(iii) of the Act states, in part, that the broadcasting system should reflect the multicultural and multiracial nature of Canadian society and the place of Aboriginal Peoples. The mandate of community stations is to provide community access to the airwaves and to offer diversified programming that reflects the needs and interests of the communities they are licensed to serve. The cultural diversity present in many Canadian communities places community stations serving those centres in a position to make a strong contribution to the reflection of that cultural diversity, especially by providing exposure to new and developing artists from minority cultural groups. This is also consistent with the responsibility of community stations to play music not often played by commercial stations. Community stations are also well placed to provide spoken word programming that reflects the perspectives and concerns of minority cultural groups. The Commission expects community stations to maintain and strengthen their efforts in this regard, both in their programming and in their employment practices.
17. The Commission acknowledges the significant role played by community stations in providing third-language programming to the ethnocultural communities resident within their service areas. This programming contributes to the diversity of the broadcasting system and helps to address the needs of minority communities that may not otherwise have access to programming relevant to their needs. The Commission encourages all participants in the community radio sector to continue their efforts in this area.
18. Consistent with these policy objectives, the Commission has announced that it will allow Type A community radio stations to provide up to 40% third-language programming without the Commission's prior approval (see Public Notice CRTC 1999-117 entitled Ethnic Broadcasting Policy).
Definition of a community station
19. In their written comments, all the community stations, as well as their associations and the other groups supporting them, opposed the proposed introduction to the definition of a community station of the principle that programming of a community station should be provided primarily by volunteers. They argued that most of the programming currently broadcast by community stations is produced by paid staff, and that this proposal would oblige a wholesale restructuring of the way such stations operate.
20. The Commission has determined that it is appropriate to eliminate this principle from the definition. The Commission notes, however, that the participation of volunteers in the operation of the station remains an important factor, as does community access to the airwaves.
21. Accordingly, the Commission adopts the following definition of "community radio station":A community radio station is owned and controlled by a not-for-profit organization, the structure of which provides for membership, management, operation and programming primarily by members of the community at large. Programming should reflect the diversity of the market that the station is licensed to serve.
Role and mandate of community radio
22. Certain parties objected to the inclusion, within the proposed description of the role and mandate of community stations, of the principle that they should broadcast "music not generally broadcast by commercial stations". They argued that this principle would marginalize community stations, particularly in competitive markets.
23. The Commission notes that this principle is only one of many elements used to define the role and mandate of community stations, and in no way implies a requirement that all musical programming be of this type.
24. Accordingly, the Commission adopts the following as its description of the role and mandate of community radio stations:
The primary focus of a community radio station is to provide community access to the airwaves and to offer diverse programming that reflects the needs and interests of the community that the station is licensed to serve, including:
- music by new and local talent;
- music not generally broadcast by commercial stations;
- spoken word programming; and
- local information.
25. All community radio licensees are expected to facilitate community access to their programming by clearly informing the public of opportunities for community participation. The Commission further expects community radio applicants to describe, in their applications for new licences or for licence renewal, their current and/or proposed measures to:
- facilitate community access to programming;
- promote the availability of training throughout the community; and
- provide for the ongoing training and supervision of those within the community wishing to participate in programming.
Types of stations
26. The Commission continues to distinguish between Type A and Type B community radio stations. The definitions of each type are as follows:
A community radio station is a Type A station if, at the time of licensing, no other radio station, other than one owned by the CBC, is operating in the same language in all or part of its market.
If one or more stations are licensed to operate in the same language in all or any part of the same market at the time of licence renewal, the station will retain its Type A status. In all other cases, including applications to increase power, the Commission will assess the continuation of Type A status on a case-by-case basis.
A community radio station is a Type B station if, when the licence is issued, at least one other station, other than a station owned by the CBC, is licensed to operate in the same language in all or any part of the same market.
27. The programming requirements contained in the Commission's revised policy and discussed in this section will generally be imposed by condition of licence.
28. The Commission maintains the existing approach to spoken word programming for community stations. Accordingly:
- For Type A stations, the Commission generally expects at least 15% of programming aired in each broadcast week to be spoken word, with an emphasis on community-oriented spoken word. Specific commitments by individual stations will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
- For Type B stations, the Commission requires at least 25% of the programming aired in each broadcast week to be spoken word, with an emphasis on community-oriented spoken word.
29. The Commission adopts the following requirements with respect to music programming broadcast by community stations:
- Both Type A and Type B community stations are required to ensure that at least 20% of all musical selections played in each broadcast week be in subcategories other than the Pop, rock and dance subcategory.
- Both Type A and Type B community stations are required to ensure that at least 5% of all musical selections played in each broadcast week are from Category 3 (Special Interest Music).
30. The Commission reminds community radio licensees that, contrary to the former policy, both of these requirements apply to the number of selections rather than to the total duration of the music programming broadcast.
31. The Commission notes that its proposal to introduce a 5% minimum requirement for musical selections from Category 3 music was strongly opposed by community stations and the groups representing or supporting them. Although the Commission understands the concerns of stations serving small or remote communities, it is satisfied that community stations will generally be able to meet this requirement, given the relatively small number of selections that it represents and the revised musical categories adopted by the Commission today in Public Notice CRTC 2000-14. Consistent with the Commission's objectives, this requirement will provide diversity and choice to listeners.
Maximum repeat factor and level of hits
32. The Commission will no longer place restrictions on the use of hits, or on the number of times individual musical selections may be repeated, during a broadcast week.
Canadian content level for Category 2 music
33. The Commission intends to propose amendments to the regulations that would increase, from 30% to 35%, the minimum level of Canadian content for Category 2 musical selections that community stations are required to broadcast over the broadcast week.
34. The Commission has considered the suggestions from parties that the required Canadian content level be raised beyond the 35% level proposed for Category 2. In the Commission's view, any higher level would be difficult to achieve for many community stations operating in small communities where Canadian content is not as easily accessible as it is in larger centres. The Commission is satisfied that the level of 35% is appropriate in the circumstances, and notes that it is the same as that required of commercial stations.
35. Nevertheless, the Commission reminds the Canadian music recording industry that the onus rests with its participants to ensure that recordings of Canadian artists are put into the hands of community stations, not just those in the larger centres, but in the smaller communities as well.
Canadian music in low-availability genres
36. The Commission will generally require community stations to broadcast a minimum weekly level of 35% Canadian content for Category 2 music. The Commission, however, is prepared to consider applications for conditions of licence for lower Canadian content requirements to account for periods devoted to genres in which the availability of Canadian selections is low.
37. The Commission, in assessing applications for exceptions to the regulatory requirements for Canadian content, will consider such factors as:
- the size of the station and the size of the market in which it operates;
- the number of Canadian recordings currently available to the station that fall within the identified genres;
- the existing level of musical activity in the identified genres on the part of local performers and artists, and the number of recordings in those genres that have been released or distributed locally, and;
- the extent to which the availability of Canadian recordings in the identified genres can be expected to improve over time.
38. The Commission will also expect applicants to propose definitions for the genres of music for which they consider lower levels of Canadian content are appropriate. Licensees are encouraged to propose levels that they would increase over time, based on the anticipated increase in the availability of Canadian recordings in the genres concerned.
New forms of expression
39. Turntablism and radio art are new forms of expression heard on community and other radio stations. Turntablism refers to the use of turntables as musical instruments, essentially to alter and manipulate the sound of recorded music. Radio art generally refers to the arrangement of excerpts of musical selections, fragments of recorded speech and "found sounds" in unusual or original ways.
40. The Commission received a number of comments in support of and in opposition to the recognition of turntablists or performers of radio art as "artists" for the purpose of the "MAPL" definition for Canadian selections under section 2.2(2) of the regulations. None of the parties offered any proposals or suggestions as to how these new forms of expression could be clearly defined for the purpose of the Canadian content requirements. Accordingly, the Commission has decided not to recognize turntablists or performers of radio art as artists for the purpose of the MAPL definition. However, the Commission recognizes that some of these performances do contain distinct excerpts of musical selections, and may qualify as montages under the regulations for the purpose of receiving recognition as Canadian selections.
41. Pursuant to section 2 of the regulations, a montage is defined as:a compilation of one minute or more in duration containing excerpts from several musical selections but does not include a medley.
42. Under section 2.2 (11) of the regulations, a montage is deemed to be a Canadian musical selection broadcast in its entirety if:the total duration of the excerpts of Canadian musical selections from content Category 2 is greater than 50% of the total duration of the montage; [and] the total duration of the montage is four minutes or more.
43. Since turntablism and radio art are new forms of expression that have the potential of becoming more popular in the future, the Commission will follow developments in this area and will review its approach as necessary.
Distribution of Canadian Category 2 selections
44. The Commission notes that it has no complaints on file regarding community stations and their scheduling of Canadian musical selections. Accordingly, the Commission no longer considers that a formal distribution requirement with respect to Canadian musical selections for community radio is necessary. It therefore proposes to amend the regulations to remove the requirement that community stations must distribute Canadian selections "in a reasonable manner throughout each broadcast day." The Commission, however, will expect such stations to maintain a reasonable distribution of Category 2 Canadian musical selections throughout the broadcast day.
Canadian content level for Category 3 music
45. The Commission intends to propose amendments to the regulations increasing the minimum level of Canadian content for Category 3 musical selections from 10% to 12% over the broadcast week.
46. The Commission has considered the views of parties recommending that the required level of Canadian Category 3 music be raised beyond the 12% figure contained in the Commission's proposed policy. As with the determination set out earlier in this notice regarding requirements for Canadian content in Category 2 music, the Commission has concluded that the higher levels suggested in the comments would be too difficult for community stations to achieve, particularly by those stations operating in small communities where Canadian content is not as accessible as it is in larger centres. The Commission is satisfied that the level of 12% is appropriate in the circumstances, and notes that it is, in fact, somewhat higher than that required of commercial stations.
47. Nevertheless, the Commission reminds the Canadian music recording industry that it is incumbent upon that industry to ensure that recordings of Canadian music are made available to all community stations - not just to those serving large urban centres.
French-language vocal music
Level of Category 2 French-language musical selections
48. The Commission maintains the regulatory requirement imposed on French-language community stations, that they devote at least 65% of all vocal musical selections that are aired from Category 2 in each broadcast week to musical selections in the French-language.
Distribution of Category 2 French-language musical selections
49. The Commission does not consider that a formal distribution requirement with respect to French-language vocal musical selections on French-language community radio stations is necessary. Accordingly, it intends to propose a regulatory amendment that would remove the requirement that such stations distribute French-language vocal musical selections "in a reasonable manner throughout each broadcast day." The Commission, however, will expect such stations to maintain a reasonable distribution of French-language vocal musical selections throughout the broadcast day.
50. The Commission eliminates all restrictions on the amount of advertising that may be broadcast by Type B stations. This brings the policy respecting advertising on Type B stations in line with that applicable to Type A stations.
51. The CAB opposed the elimination of the limits on advertising for Type B community stations. The Commission, however, continues to believe that if Type B community stations are to fulfil their intended role and mandate, they must have adequate, more secure and consistent revenue streams to enable better planning. The Commission also believes that placing limits on advertising is not the most effective way to guarantee that community stations offer programming that differs in style and substance from that provided by other types of stations. The Commission considers that simple and effective programming requirements will achieve this objective.
Local talent development
52. The Commission considers that community stations have an important role to play in the development, support and exposure of local talent. The Commission expects community stations to continue to undertake initiatives to promote and feature music by new Canadian artists, local artists and artists whose music is seldom heard on other stations. These initiatives should be described in applications for new licences and for licence renewal.
Network and acquired programming
53. The Commission maintains its policy relating to the use of network and acquired programming for Type A and Type B stations.
54. Accordingly, Type A stations may affiliate with networks or acquire programming from other radio stations to avoid having to sign off at the end of their local programming.
55. In the case of Type B stations, the Commission will require applicants proposing new stations or seeking licence renewal to demonstrate that the network or acquired programs they wish to broadcast will complement, but not replace, their local programs.
Hours of broadcast
56. The Commission will continue to permit community radio stations to increase or decrease their weekly broadcast time by up to 20% without application to the Commission.
57. The Commission will introduce a streamlined regulatory framework for low-power developmental community stations. The objective of this approach is to allow new stations to commence operating quickly, primarily for training purposes.
58. The regulatory framework for developmental community stations will apply only to stations having a transmitter power of 5 watts or less (AM) or an effective radiated power (ERP) of 5 watts or less (FM).
59. The Commission has developed a streamlined application form designed specifically for applicants proposing new developmental community radio stations. Applicants will generally have their proposals considered as part of an expedited public process. Applicants will not be required to show evidence of the availability of financing, nor will the presence of paid staff be a criterion used in the assessment of applications for developmental community radio licences.
60. Licensed developmental community stations will be subject to fundamental requirements such as those concerning Canadian ownership, technical certification by the Department of Industry, and adherence to standard industry self-regulatory codes. They will also be expected to conform to those portions of the community radio policy governing the role of community stations. Futher, they will be subject to the regulatory requirements with respect to Canadian content and, for French-language stations, French-language vocal music. Developmental community stations will not generally be expected to comply with the policy's requirements dealing with other programming elements. In addition, the Commission would be prepared to consider applications for conditions of licence that would establish lower Canadian content requirements to account for periods devoted to genres in which the availability of Canadian selections is low.
61. Developmental community stations will generally be licensed for three years. At the end of this term, licensees will be expected to have filed an application with the Commission for a regular community radio licence or to cease operations.
62. As a separate matter, the Commission notes that, under the Broadcasting Distribution Regulations, local FM, AM and digital radio signals are audio services that must be distributed. In some circumstances, however, particularly where distribution capacity is limited, the Commission considers that the obligatory distribution of the signals of developmental stations by broadcasting distribution undertakings (BDUs) may not be appropriate. Accordingly, in such circumstances, the Commission would be disposed to give favourable consideration to applications by BDUs for exceptions from this regulatory requirement by condition of licence.
Streamlined regulatory approach
63. The Commission intends to implement a streamlined regulatory approach to community radio. This approach will encompass the following measures.
64. In preparing their applications for new licences or for licence renewal, applicants will no longer be required to complete a Promise of Performance.
65. As part of an application for a new community radio licence or for licence renewal, applicants will be asked to submit their proposed program schedule as a sample of the type of programming they would provide.
66. Conditions of licence reflecting this policy will be listed on the licence of each community radio station. Any other conditions of licence, or exceptions to the generally applicable conditions of licence, will be noted in the decision issuing or renewing the licence.
67. Adherence to other programming commitments that an applicant may include with its application for a new or renewed licence will not generally be required by condition of licence unless the Commission determines that such conditions are warranted in the circumstances.
68. The Commission is confident that its revised policy will contribute to the diversity of the broadcasting system by ensuring that community stations continue to distinguish themselves from the services of commercial stations and the CBC through their provision of distinctive local programming services of interest to the communities they serve. This policy will further promote varied musical and spoken word programming that reflects the diversity and richness of the many groups that make up any given community.
69. In the near future, the Commission intends to publish a booklet setting out all elements of this revised community radio policy, along with a glossary of relevant terms, clarifications of certain issues and a bibliography of other documents relevant to community stations. It will continue to identify and implement new measures such as this, designed to assist licensees and the public in their dealings with the Commission.
This notice is available in alternative format upon request, and may also be viewed at the following Internet site: http://www.crtc.gc.ca