AMMSA-LOGO2Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) granted licences for the operation of five radio stations that will serve the Indigenous communities of Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Ottawa and Toronto in order to fulfill an immediate need. These five new stations’ programming must reflect the communities they serve, include a large portion of local content, such as news, and deal with the specific concerns of Indigenous people in the regions in question.

The organizations that will operate the radio stations are:

  • Aboriginal Multi-Media Society of Alberta, in Edmonton and Calgary;
  • Northern Native Broadcasting, in Vancouver; and
  • First Peoples Radio Inc., in Ottawa and Toronto.

Part of the spoken programming must also be in an Indigenous language.

In the view of the CRTC, these three organizations best demonstrated how their programming would reflect the interests and meet the needs of the Indigenous communities in their respective markets.

Quick Facts

  • The CRTC is fulfilling an urgent need for radio stations for Indigenous people in the cities of Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Ottawa and Toronto, which have not had a station entirely devoted to Indigenous people since 2015.
  • The new stations will broadcast on the following frequencies:
    • Vancouver (Northern Native Broadcasting): 106.3 FM
    • Edmonton (Aboriginal Multi-Media Society of Alberta): 89.3 FM
    • Calgary (Aboriginal Multi-Media Society of Alberta): 88.1 FM
    • Ottawa (First Peoples Radio Inc.): 95.7 FM
    • Toronto First Peoples Radio Inc.): 106.5 FM
  • Since the Canadian broadcasting system plays an important role in the reconciliation between Indigenous peoples and Canadian society, the CRTC wants to ensure that these Indigenous communities are well served.
  • The CRTC will soon initiate a review of its Indigenous radio policy to ensure that the regulatory framework is effective and reflects the realities of radio stations serving Indigenous peoples.

We are very pleased to announce this decision today and to approve the applications for radio licences for the Indigenous communities in the regions concerned. This is a highly anticipated outcome given the length of this public proceeding. I feel even more honoured since it was the last hearing I chaired. This decision comes at a crucial time, not only because it comes in the wake of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report, but also because of the many major issues that affect these communities, such as the disappearance and murder of Indigenous women, water quality on some reserves and Indigenous youth suicides. We will closely monitor the licensees to ensure that they act in keeping with their mandate of serving and promoting Indigenous communities by dealing with the issues that affect them directly, speaking their languages and promoting their cultures.”

~ Jean-Pierre Blais, CRTC Chairman and CEO

CRTC’s Assessment of the Edmonton Radio Market

Market capacity

  1. In 2011, the Indigenous population of the Edmonton CMA was 61,765. From 2001 to 2011, that CMA’s Indigenous population increased by nearly twice the rate of its overall population. Currently, Edmonton has the second largest Indigenous population of all cities in Canada (second only to Winnipeg), and is on track to having the largest Indigenous population in Canada.
  2. The Edmonton radio market is served by 19 commercial stations (14 FM and 5 AM), including the ethnic radio station CKER-FM Edmonton, which is owned by Rogers Broadcasting Limited. As noted above, it is also served by AMMSA’s Indigenous radio station CFWE-FM-4. In addition, in Broadcasting Decision 2017-3, the Commission approved an application by 1811258 Alberta Ltd. (1811258 Alberta) for a broadcasting licence to operate an ethnic commercial AM radio station in Edmonton, which has yet to launch.
  3. From 2011 to 2015, total radio revenues in Edmonton remained relatively stable with a CAGR of 1.3%. In 2013, total revenues reached a peak of $94.1 million. The PBIT and PBIT margin also remained relatively stable over that period. The PBIT margin peaked at 25.6% in 2013, well above the Canadian average of 18.9%.
  4. In regard to Edmonton’s economic outlook, that city’s economy has been affected by decreases in the energy sector. However, Edmonton still benefits from positive economic indicators, including higher household incomes and lower unemployment levels overall when compared to the national average.
  5. In light of the above, the Commission finds that the Edmonton radio market can sustain the addition of one new radio station serving its urban Indigenous community. However, the Commission also finds that with the pending launch of 1811258 Alberta’s ethnic radio station, the Edmonton radio market cannot sustain the addition of another new ethnic radio station at this time.
Assessment of applications
  1. The application by VMS for Edmonton is innovative in terms of its proposed mix of Indigenous, ethnic and cross-cultural programming offering. However, the applicant proposed to broadcast programming in South Asian languages that are similar to those offered by the incumbent radio station CKER-FM. Further, the ethnic programming to be broadcast by VMS’s proposed station would overlap programming targeting the South Asian community that is currently broadcast by CKER-FM and that will be broadcast by 1811258 Alberta’s new ethnic radio station. As a result, VMS’s proposal would not add to the diversity of South Asian programming in the market. Finally, VMS’s projected revenues that are tied to ethnic programming represent over 70% of Edmonton’s 2015 ethnic radio revenues. Consequently, approval of VMS’s application could have an undue negative financial impact on the Edmonton ethnic radio market, in particular on 1811258 Alberta’s yet to launch ethnic radio station.
  2. The Commission finds that while the applications by both AMMSA and FPR are quality applications that meet the criteria set out in Broadcasting Notice of Consultation 2015-399, the application by AMMSA better meets the needs of the urban Indigenous community in the Edmonton radio market. In addition to proposing a higher level of local programming, AMMSA has a presence in the Edmonton market with its station CFWE-FM-4, and has proposed a more modest business plan, which would have less of an impact on incumbent stations.
  3. AMMSA’s new station would serve the urban Indigenous community in Edmonton by offering a mix of spoken word and musical programming targeting that community. Specifically, the station would operate under a mixed contemporary (Pop, Rock and Dance) music format. AMMSA committed to broadcast 126 hours of programming each broadcast week, of which at least 120 hours would be local programming. Further, it committed to broadcast at least 7 hours of Indigenous-language spoken word programming (Cree, Dene, Nakoda/Sioux). Conditions of licence in regard to those commitments are set out in Appendix 2 to this decision.
  4. AMMSA committed to broadcast each broadcast week 9 hours of spoken word programming, including 4 hours and 25 minutes of news, and 117 hours of musical programming. At least 20% of all musical selections broadcast would be devoted to Indigenous music, and 5% would be in Indigenous languages. Conditions of licence relating to the broadcast of musical selections are set out in Appendix 2.
  5. The Commission considers the business plan proposed by AMMSA for its station to be reasonable, sustainable and self-sufficient, based on the sale of advertising. In this regard, AMMSA projected advertising revenues of $325,000 in Year 2, growing to $523,000 in Year 7, and that the station would achieve profitability by Year 5. AMMSA’s projections are more modest than those set out by FPR (i.e., advertising revenues of $1.6 million in Year 2, growing to $2.3 million in Year 7, and profitability by Year 3) and as such would have a more limited impact on existing commercial stations in the Edmonton radio market, as well as on AMMSA’s existing Indigenous radio station CFWE-FM-4. AMMSA added that its proposed station would benefit from synergies with CFWE-FM-4, and would be able to share risks and costs with that station, which targets an audience that is different from that targeted by its proposed station.
  6. AMMSA’s commitment to serve Indigenous communities in Edmonton was reflected in letters of support submitted by, among others, representatives from the Piikani Nation of Blackfoot Confederacy, the Assembly of First Nations, the Mayor of Edmonton, educational institutions, and numerous individuals from or representing independent production companies, artists, publicity agencies, and companies that promote artists. These letters cited, among other things, AMMSA’s experience as an Indigenous broadcasting leader that consistently gives a voice to Indigenous communities through news and entertainment programming and serves as a point of connection for listeners.

CRTC’s Assessment of the Calgary Radio Market

Market capacity

  1. In 2011, the Indigenous population of the Calgary CMA was 33,375. From 2001 to 2011, that CMA’s Indigenous population increased by nearly twice the rate of its overall population.
  2. The Calgary radio market is served by 20 commercial stations (15 FM and 5 AM). These include the ethnic radio stations CHKF-FM Calgary and CKYR-FM Calgary, which are owned by Fairchild Radio (Calgary FM) Ltd. and Multicultural Broadcasting Corporation Inc., respectively.
  3. From 2011 to 2015, total radio revenues in Calgary remained relatively stable with a CAGR of 1.4%. In 2015, total revenues reached a peak of $98.7 million. The PBIT and the PBIT margin also remained relatively stable over that period. The PBIT margin peaked at 27.3% in 2013, and in 2015, at 24.6%, was well above the Canadian average of 18.9%.
  4. In regard to Calgary’s economic outlook, that city’s economy has been affected hard by decreases in the energy sector. However, Calgary still benefits from positive economic indicators, including higher household incomes and historically lower unemployment levels when compared to the national average.
  5. In light of the above, the Commission finds that the Calgary radio market can sustain the addition of one new radio station serving its urban Indigenous community. However, the Commission also finds that with the presence of CHKF-FM and CKYR-FM, the Calgary radio market cannot sustain the addition of a new ethnic radio station at this time.

Assessment of applications

  1. The application by VMS for Calgary is innovative in terms of its proposed mix of Indigenous, ethnic and cross-cultural programming offering. However, the ethnic programming to be broadcast by VMS’s proposed station would overlap programming targeting the South Asian community that is currently broadcast by the incumbent radio stations CHKF-FM and CKYR-FM. As a result, VMS’s proposal would not add to the diversity of South Asian programming currently available in the market. Finally, VMS’s projected revenues that are tied to ethnic programming represent over 30% of Calgary’s 2015 ethnic radio revenues. In light of the above, approval of VMS’s application could have an undue negative financial impact on the Calgary ethnic radio market and its incumbent ethnic radio stations.
  2. The Commission finds that while the applications by both AMMSA and FPR are quality applications that meet the criteria set out in Broadcasting Notice of Consultation 2015-399, the application by AMMSA better meets the needs of the urban Indigenous community in the Calgary radio market. In addition to proposing a higher level of local programming, AMMSA has proposed a more modest business plan, which would have less of an impact on incumbent stations.
  3. AMMSA’s new station would serve the urban Indigenous community in Calgary by offering a mix of spoken word and musical programming targeting that community. Specifically, the station would operate under a Country/mixed contemporary (Pop, Rock, Gospel and Blues) music format. AMMSA committed to broadcast 126 hours of programming each broadcast week, of which at least 117 hours and 30 minutes would be local programming. Further, it committed to broadcast at least 7 hours of Indigenous-language spoken word programming (Cree, Blackfoot, Dene, Nakoda/Sioux).
  4. AMMSA committed to broadcast each broadcast week 9 hours of spoken word programming, including 4 hours and 25 minutes of news, and 117 hours of musical programming. At least 20% of all musical selections broadcast would be devoted to Indigenous music, and 5% would be in Indigenous languages.
  5. The Commission considers the business plan proposed by AMMSA for its station to be reasonable, sustainable and self-sufficient, based on the sale of advertising. In this regard, AMMSA projected advertising revenues of $193,000 in Year 2, growing to $387,000 in Year 7, and that the station would achieve profitability by Year 7. These projections are more modest than those set out by FPR (i.e., advertising revenues of $1.8 million in Year 2, growing to $2.33 million in Year 7, and profitability by Year 5) and as such would have a more limited impact on existing services in the Calgary radio market. AMMSA added that the finances are in place to proceed in Calgary, and that it has identified its sales/station manager and on-air people.
  6. Finally, AMMSA committed to maintaining current relationships with Indigenous communities in Alberta, and to developing new such relationships.
  7. AMMSA’s commitment to serve Indigenous communities in Calgary was reflected in letters of support submitted by, among others, representatives from the Piikani Nation of Blackfoot Confederacy, the Assembly of First Nations, the Mayor of Calgary, educational institutions, and numerous individuals from or representing independent production companies, artists, publicity agencies, and companies that promote artists. These letters cited, among other things, AMMSA’s experience as an Indigenous broadcasting leader that consistently gives a voice to Indigenous communities through news and entertainment programming and serves as a point of connection for listeners.

Associated Links

About the Aboriginal Multi-Media Society

Aboriginal Multi-Media Society of Alberta (AMMSA) is a not-for-profit corporation controlled by its board of directors. It currently operates the English- and Indigenous-language Type B Native radio station CFWE-FM-4 Edmonton. AMMSA indicated that its board for the two new stations in Alberta would be comprised of 12 members of the Indigenous communities to be served.
www.ammsa.com