Three services approved for fall launch.
Canada's federal broadcast regulator, the Canadian Radio Television and Telecommunications Commission today (June 16) granted three subscription radio licenses in preparation for the fall launch of subscription radio in Canada.
Granted licenses include Canadian Satellite Radio; a Toronto-based joint venture between entrepreneur John Bitove Jr. and XM Satellite Radio Holdings; Sirius Canada; a partnership between Canadian Broadcasting, Standard Broadcasting and Sirius Satellite Radio; and a joint venture between CHUM and Astral Media that will use terrestrial transmitters instead of satellites.
Most industry figures in Canada had expected licenses to be granted to all three of the applicants, but with restrictive domestic content conditions attached. Current radio rules require Canadian music stations to broadcast 35% Canadian music content.
In their applications to the CRTC, the two satellite firms argued that they would have dedicated Canadian channels to be heard by American listeners, giving Canadian artists access to a broader market. However, Canada's Heritage Minister Liza Frulla indicated that her primary concern about satellite radio were Canadian musicians, who would gain more opportunity to reach listeners, but would also have to fend off increased competition.
The CRTC, in fact, ruled that the two satellite systems must offer at least eight Canadian-produced channels with 85% Canadian content programming. At least 25% of the musical selections on the Canadian channels must be new. A further 25% of the selections must be by emerging Canadian artists.
The CHUM-Astral application had offered 50 channels produced entirely in Canada, a larger share than its rivals. The CRTC ruled that the music broadcast by these channels must respect the minimums required by the CRTC regulations: in the case of French-language channels, a minimum of 65% of musical selections in French.
"These decisions foster the objectives of the Broadcasting Act and balance the interests of Canadian consumers, the radio industry and the music industry," says CRTC chairman, Charles Dalfen. "These licenses will harness new technologies for Canadians and give Canadian talent exposure to listeners across Canada and indeed, North America. New and emerging artists should benefit especially from the airtime that is being reserved for them."