In broadcasting decisions handed down today, the CRTC has announced it will restrict the use of musical montages by two Francophone commercial radio stations. The regulator has imposed a condition on Astral’s Gatineau station CKTF-FM and Cogeco’s Montreal station CKOI-FM limiting their broadcasting of montages to no more than 10% of total programming per week.

A musical montage is a compilation of excerpts from a number of songs played without interruption.

Although it may contain excerpts from several songs, a montage is considered a single piece of music for purposes of calculating the levels of Canadian content and French-language vocal music (FVM). Used properly, montages allow audiences to sample selections that would not otherwise be broadcast, or to discover new artists.

CKTF-FM and CKOI-FM were broadcasting up to 18% of long montages composed almost exclusively of popular English-language and non-Canadian music. Given that CKTF-FM’s licence was also up for renewal, the Commission imposed a four-year renewal period on the licensee.

The CRTC also imposed a shorter renewal period of five years on RNC Media’s station CFTX-FM because of its failure to comply with the regulations on the required levels of FVM.

In an information bulletin, the CRTC consolidated its goals and its expectations with regard to the use of montages and specified what would constitute an inappropriate use of montages. It also announced that it may impose conditions of licence similar to those imposed on CKTF-FM and CKOI-FM to all broadcasters who allot more than 10% of their programming to montages in their broadcast week.

“There is a widespread trend on the part of some French-language broadcasters to use montages inappropriately,” commented Tom Pentefountas, the CRTC’s Vice Chairman of Broadcasting. “Some licensees appear to be using montages to circumvent the requirements for French-language vocal music. We are finding that for some Francophone commercial stations, the current quotas represent a particular challenge given their target audience and the market they serve.”

Over the course of the next few months the regulators say they will gather data on the French-language private radio industry and on the Francophone music industry in order to more fully understand the problem.

The CRTC will hold a symposium in the winter of 2012 to discuss with key stakeholders the results of this data gathering, the evolution of the market for French-language music, and the role of radio in the broadcast and promotion of FVM. The CRTC will reconsider its regulatory requirements with respect to FVM and montages when it undertakes a more comprehensive review of policies affecting the Francophone commercial radio sector. This review should be initiated in 2012.

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