According to the Calgary Herald, Atlantic Canada’s Newfoundland Capital Corp. Ltd. (Newcap Radio) announced in late January it would put its 32 Western Canadian radio stations – along with six repeater licences and two television stations – on the block. Two of the radio stations, 90.3 Amp Radio and XL 103.1, are in Calgary. Several others are scattered across southern Alberta, including Drumheller and Brooks. Newcap acquired the 103.1 frequency in 2002 and the 90.3 frequency in 2006. Both stations went through several format changes before settling on what they are today, a “greatest hits” and top 40/ pop station, respectively. Between the two, they employ about 60 people.
There has been speculation that by selling its Alberta assets, Newcap is trying to generate the capital it will need to scoop up some of the Eastern Canada radio stations expected to be put on the market by Bell and Astral in the near future.
The Newcap properties aren’t the only Calgary stations that could be under new ownership soon. Both Bell and Astral are expected to sell some radio and television stations nationwide as they attempt to gain CRTC approval for a multibillion dollar merger. (There are rules regarding how many stations a company can own in one city.) Bell Media owns one Calgary station, 101.5 FM – which it had already offered to sell in its original, rejected bid to the CRTC – and Astral owns three. Details of the new Bell-Astral plan are expected in early February.
According to information detailed in CRTC licence hearings, Calgary’s radio market is the fifth largest in the country, pegged at an approximately $90 million value. And with at least two, maybe more, of the 27 signals filling Calgary’s airwaves up for sale, Deschover said the country’s broadcasters will definitely be sniffing around.
As for who the potential bidders might be, Deschover said Rogers and Corus Entertainment are out because they’ve already hit their ownership cap. That leaves Saskatchewan companies Harvard Broadcasting and Rawlco Radio, which already have one Calgary station each, and B.C.-based Jim Pattison Broadcast Group – which will make its first entry into the Calgary market when it launches its new station, The Peak 95.3, later this year – the most likely candidates.
“I know that Harvard would very much love to have another station in the city,” Deschover said. “Rawlco has been trying to expand their footprint a little bit over the years and would definitely like to have another one, and of course Pattison has been in acquisition mode for several years across British Columbia and Alberta.”
Smaller broadcasters like Vista and Fairchild are dark horses, but possibilities, he added.
Another new station that will be hitting the airwaves in Calgary this year is an ethnic station owned by Vancouver-based Multicultural Broadcasting Corp. The station will occupy the 106.7 MHz frequency, a less powerful signal that only covers three-quarters of the city. It and the 95.3 frequency now held by Jim Pattison were awarded in a CRTC decision in May.
NewCap Radio Stations in Alberta as of March 2013:
CKBA-FM 94.1 FM | Athabasca | classic hits
CJPR-FM 94.9 FM | Blairmore | country
CJEG-FM 101.3 FM| Bonnyville | CHR
CIXF-FM 101.1 FM | Brooks | adult contemporary
CIBQ-FM 105.7 FM | Brooks | country
CKMP-FM 90.3 FM | Calgary | rhythmic contemporary
CFXL-FM 103.1 FM | Calgary | classic hits/oldies
CFCW 790 AM | Camrose | country
CFCW-FM 98.1 FM | Camrose | classic hits
CJXK-FM 95.3 FM | Cold Lake | classic rock
CKDQ 910 AM | Drumheller | country
CKRA-FM 96.3 FM | Edmonton | oldies/classic hits
CIRK-FM 97.3 FM | Edmonton | classic rock
CFXE-FM 94.3 FM | Edson | classic hits
CHFT-FM 100.5 FM | Fort McMurray | classic hits
CFXG 93.3 FM | Grande Cache | classic hits
CKVH-FM 93.5 FM | High Prairie | classic hits
CFXH-FM 97.5 FM | Hinton | classic hits
CFXP-FM 95.5 FM | Jasper | classic hits
CILB-FM 103.5 FM | Lac La Biche | classic hits
CKSA-FM 95.9 FM | Lloydminster | country
CILR-FM 98.9 FM | Lloydminster | tourist information/community radio
CJPR-FM-1 92.7 FM | Pincher Creek | country
CKGY-FM 95.5 FM | Red Deer | country
CIZZ-FM 98.9 FM | Red Deer | active rock
CHSL-FM 92.7 FM | Slave Lake | classic rock
CHSP-FM 97.7 FM | St. Paul | country
CKSQ-FM 93.3 FM | Stettler | country
CKKY 830 AM 1080 AM | Wainwright | country
CKWY-FM 93.7 FM | Wainwright | adult contemporary
CKWB-FM 97.9 FM | Westlock | country
CKJR 1440 AM | Wetaskiwin | oldies
CFXW-FM 96.7 FM | Whitecourt | classic rock