A review of radio in Canada has recommended that the national radio broadcasting and music industries develop a framework to encourage airplay for new talent.
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, which regulates radio in Canada, approves the licensing of radio stations in the country and enforces Canadian content levels. As such all radio stations must ensure that 35% of their popular musical selections are Canadian each week.
But the review of the regulatory framework for broadcasting services in Canada, which was released to the public on Wednesday and was conducted by Laurence Dunbar and Christian Leblanc, concluded that the CRTC pursue a "workable definition" of "emerging artists" and "emerging music" that could be used for regulatory purposes.
"It is imperative that workable definitions of 'emerging music' and 'emerging artist' be developed," the report said. "The best way to establish such a definition, we believe, is to have representatives of the Canadian radio broadcasting industry and of the Canadian music industry mutually agree on those definitions."
Canadian music publishers and recording companies have been concerned that content regulations have promoted established homegrown artists, but have not led to airtime for new, local acts. At the same time, Canadian radio recorded record revenue of C$1.4 billion in 2006, and profits of C$284.5 million, according to the CRTC.
Many hot new Canadian acts, like Arcade Fire, Feist, Broken Social Scene, are popular live acts but receive little commercial radio play, according to Canadian record companies. The industry hopes that by defining "emerging artists," and making it part of Canadian content regulations, new acts would garner more attention.
Graham Henderson, president of the Canadian Recording Industry Association, a lobby group for Canada's major recording companies, said the problem is that radio stations have no definition for what constitutes an "emerging artist."
"Even the best intentioned radio stations don't know whether what they are playing would fit into this category," Henderson said.
Henderson's group has a definition for "emerging artists," and says it accounts for only 6% of commercial radio play in English speaking Canada. French radio in the province of Quebec plays between 16% and 17% of the category, Henderson says.
Despite the recommendation, there is no guarantee the CRTC will move forward in establishing a definition for "emerging artist." A CRTC spokesman did not return calls by deadline.