CBC/Radio-Canada responds to an inaccurate news story about the licensing process for the Caribbean African-Canadian Radio Network (CARN), a proposed Toronto radio station:
CBC does not oppose the introduction of a new radio station to serve a particular community out of “narrow corporate interests”; in fact, CBC offered CARN assistance, advice and even surplus equipment.
CBC’s objection, consistent with Industry Canada technical guidelines and the objections of numerous private broadcasters, has been to its "second adjacency" placement at 98.7FM. As with the others, CBC is also concerned about the precedent this special approval sets for the future licensing and regulation of Canada's public airwaves.
These concerns are outlined in a July 30, 2010 letter to Industry Canada, set out below, from the Broadcasters’ Technical Coordinating Committee, an organization representing 15 media organizations and individual broadcast companies, which together hold the vast majority of radio licenses in Canada.
30 July 2010
via E-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ms. Helen McDonald,
Assistant Deputy Minister,
Spectrum, Information Technologies and Telecommunications,
300 Slater Street
Ottawa ON K1A 0C8
Dear Ms. McDonald:
Re: FM Broadcasting Application for the use of 98.7 MHz – Toronto ON
I am writing as Chair of the Canadian Broadcasters’ Technical Co-ordinating Committee (TCC), a newlyformed broadcast industry consultative group that deals with matters of an engineering nature of concern to over-the-air private radio and TV stations. At present, we represent 15 media organizations and individual broadcast companies, which together hold the vast majority of radio and TV licences in Canada. Since this is the first occasion that the TCC has had to communicate with you on a matter of interest to the group, I am attaching a copy of our membership list. The TCC is aware that an application has been submitted to Industry Canada for a Broadcasting Certificate associated with a proposed FM transmitting undertaking that would operate on Channel 254 (98.7 MHz) in downtown Toronto. Our radio members have serious concerns about this technical proposal, as well as the manner in which normal practices and procedures may be applied by Industry Canada in the handling of this application. We realize that no companion application under the Broadcasting Act has yet been considered by the CRTC; however, we believe that technical concerns of this nature are best expressed to the Department before it sends comments to the Commission. This is why we are raising this matter with you now. Under the current version of the Department’s Broadcasting Procedures and Rules, Part 3 (BPR-3)1 a regular power FM station normally cannot be approved for use at any transmitter site located within the protected service contour of any other station operating on a frequency less than 600 kHz removed from the proposed frequency. As detailed in Section C-1.5.2 of BPR-3, exceptions to this rule can be made when the applicant and any affected incumbent stations have entered into prior agreements to mutually accept the interference zones that may result. In the present case, we have been informed that the applicant is seeking the Department’s technical approval for a local Toronto operation on 98.7 MHz, which is only 400 KHz removed (i.e. 2nd-adjacent) from the 99.1 MHz frequency occupied by the CBC’s local Radio One transmitter, CBLA-FM. The TCC understands that no mutual-acceptance agreement has been negotiated so far between the CBC and the applicant; nevertheless the applicant is asking the Department to authorize the use of this frequency, presumably as a special case.
1 BPR-3; Issue 5, Amendment 1; June 2010
Our radio members strongly believe that issuing a special-case approval in this instance case would:
(a) not be in the spirit of the co-operative, mutually-beneficial consultation processes that Industry Canada and the industry have employed over many decades with respect to the development of broadcasting rules and regulations; and,
(b) drastically change the manner in which rules relating to the FM Broadcasting Certificate application process are applied in the future.
Please allow me to elaborate on these concerns individually. With respect to our first point, the issue of whether 2nd adjacent FM frequency assignments should be authorized within the same market was discussed at great length over the past 2 years, during meetings of the Department’s Technical Advisory Committee on Broadcasting (B-TAC). After careful consideration of the pros and cons, the consensus opinion of the B-TAC’s engineering experts was that these situations have a considerable potential to cause interference to the reception of incumbent stations; moreover, significant areas of interference would almost always result for the incoming stations, which would limit their ability to attract listeners. It was the BTAC’s view that these interference situations are best managed when operators of 2nd adjacent FM stations are in agreement, both with respect to interference predictions and appropriate mitigation measures. Without such agreements, conflicts between licensees are highly likely and the Department will need to take a much more active role in dispute resolution than would otherwise be required. Furthermore, the Department will need to be involved much more extensively in resolving public complaints about interference.
Considering all of the above, it was concluded by the B-TAC that the latest BPR-3 version (June 2010), should continue to require prior mutual agreements between incumbents and applicants when same-market 2nd-adjacent assignments are being made. Given that this issue has been reviewed by the B-TAC only recently, broadcasters would deplore any action by the Department that would have the effect of ignoring the considerable effort that went into this review of the BPR-3 rules.
With respect to our second point, applicants sometimes believe that they represent unique special cases, deserving of unconventional treatment by the Department. However, approval of such proposals inevitably means that existing procedural rules are changed de facto, even if notde jure. Approving special cases always has an impact on the Department’s ability to follow its existing regulatory processes in the future because it cannot later refuse other proposals that meet the same criteria for “specialness”.
In the present case, approving an assignment that is contrary to the usual provisions of BPR-3, and unacceptable to a frequency-related incumbent, will open the door to a plethora of similar requests. Given that these will all need to be supported by special technical studies that will require careful individual assessment by the Department’s staff, the FM broadcasting technical clearance process will inevitably slow down as a result.
The TCC is also concerned about the Department accepting, in the absence of any public input, special technical studies that purport to show that a non-compliant operation in fact will produce no harm to the public. The principal difficulty with applying such assessments to broadcasting situations is that broadcasters have no control over the type of equipment used by the public, or where and when it is used. Testing can only assess a representative sample of receivers, operated under typical conditions over a limited period of time. Statistically, there will always be a considerable portion of the receiver universe that was not sampled during testing, as well as localized receiving conditions that were not encountered during the tests. Other spectrum administrators, especially the FCC, solicit public comments when technical rule waivers are proposed by individual applicants.
At present, there is no process whereby this can occur in Canada, since the CRTC will usually have already received Industry Canada’s conditional technical approvals prior to conducting its own public hearings on broadcasting applications. Moreover, the CRTC has no jurisdiction to rule on technical issues in any event.
While the TCC members do not believe that 98.7 MHz should be assigned in Toronto in the absence of an agreement with the frequency-related incumbent, we suggest that this alone may not prevent a new applicant from obtaining a suitable FM frequency in the GTA. In this regard, we draw the Department’s attention to Broadcasting Notice of Consultation CRTC 2010-146. We note that the Commission is currently conducting a public process with respect to continuance of the Toronto FM broadcasting licences currently issued to CKLN Radio Incorporated (CKLN-FM) and Aboriginal Voices Radio Inc (CKAV-FM). Both of these licensees occupy FM frequencies in Toronto that may well serve the coverage needs of any new applicant, should the incumbent(s) be found ineligible to continue their current operations.
To conclude, and for the reasons detailed in this letter, the TCC members strongly recommend that the Department not approve the special-case use of 98.7 MHz in Toronto unless and until any new applicant has entered into the agreements with incumbent stations that are normally required under Section C-1.5.2 of BPR-3.
We also consider that no extraordinary measures should be taken to add new Toronto drop-in frequencies to the FM Allotment Plan, until such time as the CRTC has clarified the status of the two licensees mentioned above.
Chair, Broadcasters’ Technical Co-ordinating Committee
Phone: 204-789 0577
cc: Marc Dupuis, Director General; Engineering, Planning and Standards Branch; Industry Canada;
John Lee, Executive Director; Media Technology Services; CBC Technology;
TCC Radio Members
Canadian Broadcasters’ Technical Co-ordinating Committee (TCC)
c/o 105.7 Rythme FM
2830, boul. St-Martin Est, Bureau 100
Laval QC H7E 5A1
Phone: 450-664-1500 ext 2126
Thunder Bay Television Inc.
87 Hill St North
Thunder Bay ON P7A 5V6
Director of Engineering
Corus Entertainment Inc.
25 Dockside Drive
Toronto ON M5A 0B5
Senior V-P, Engineering and Technical Services
Canwest Media Inc.
81 Barber Green Road
Scarborough ON M3C 2A2
Harvard Broadcasting Inc.
1A-1455 Waverley St.
Winnipeg MB R3T 0P7
Vice President Engineering
745 Windmill Road
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, B3B 1C2
Phone: 902 - 442 - 4687
Cell: 780 - 984 - 8485
Jack Hoeppner, TCC Chair
National Director of Engineering, Corus Corporate
c/o Winnipeg Radio
930 Portage Ave
Winnipeg MB R3G 0P8
Phone: 204-789 0577
General Manager Engineering
Astral Media Radio Inc.
Bureau 120, 1717 boul René-Lévesque Est
Montréal QC H2L 4T9
Director- Transmission Systems (TV)
9 Channel 9 Court
Scarborough ON M1S 4B5
Astral Media Radio Inc.
2 St. Clair Ave W.
Toronto ON M4V 1L6
V-P, Corporate & Radio Engineering
Rogers Media Inc.
777 Jarvis St, 6th Floor
Toronto ON M4Y 3B7
Director of Engineering (Regina/Saskatoon)
Rawlco Radio Inc.
715 Saskatchewan Cr. W.
Saskatoon SK S7M 5V7
Director of Engineering
Golden West Broadcasting Ltd.
Altona MB R0G 0B0
Jim Pattison Broadcast Group
10 Boundary Road SE
Redcliff AB T0J 2P0
Director of Radio Engineering
9 Channel 9 Court
Scarborough ON M1S 4B5
Wayne Stacey, TCC Secretary
Wayne A. Stacey & Associates Ltd.
2145 Hubbard Cr.
Ottawa ON K1J 6L3
Special Delegate – Emergency Alerting Issues
Senior V-P, Regulatory and Strategic Affairs
Pelmorex Communications Inc.
2655 Bristol Circle
Oakville ON L6H 7W1
Tel: 905-829-1388 ext. 1271
Engineer, Spectrum Engineering
Bureau A2-17; 1400, boul. René-Lévesque Est
Montréal QC H2L 2M2