Canadian Content Requirements for the Radio Industry

Essay by bobwatsonUniversity, Bachelor'sB+, May 2009

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According to the Bureau of Broadcast Measurement, Canadians listen to approximately 21 Hours of Radio per week. This statistic varies across the nation with Quebecers and Albertans listening to the most radio and BC the least.

According to the CRTC: the purpose of CanCon is to foster creative talent and reflect Canadian society including its linguistic duality and diversity.

YES: However we have our limits. How many times can you listen to Barenaked Ladies “If I had a million dollars, without hating them.”According to Angus Reid study carried out in 1997, Canadians, given the opportunity would choose to listen to 20 – 25 % Canadian music on radio instead of the required 35%.

Broadcasters play 35% Cancon, but in reality there are about 15 top bands that get played in heavy rotation: Alanis the Hip, Sarah McLaughlin, Celine Dion, the Moffats, Shania, etc.

These artists are commercially popular in Canada and in the USA and so we apparently can’t get enough of them.

Commercial radio stations tend not play less known, independent bands because Canadian audiences like pop music.

Currently Station are playing more than double the percent of Canadina music being sold at music stores.

For example: 12 percent of retail sales is Canadian music.

Private broadcasters oppose the CRTC cancon rules…they want to reduce the 35% to 30, and their main complaint is that there is not enough quality commercial Canadian content music available.

Formats such as oldies and classic rock have difficulty filling their cancon requirements.

They suggest reducing cancon percentage, and using other methods to promote Canadian artists such as Canadian music radio awards and Canadian music month.

However: if the purpose of the Cancon and the MAPL system is to foster Candian talent and give Canadian musicians access to Canadian airwaves,I wonder if commercially successful artists such as Shania and Celine who are top of the Charts in the US and around the world need the support of cancon regulations…In regards to cancon and cultural diversity-In Toronto, the most culturally diverse city in the country – there are 2 multicultural programs as well as a few campus radio stations that have ethnic programming.

Under CRTC regulations: ethnic and special interest stations are required to play only 10% cancon. Considering the purpose of the cancon regulations: to promote Canadian talent and reflect cultural diversity, wouldn’t the most vulnerable and noncommercial areas of Canadian music industry: folk, ethnic and instrumental, need more support and hence higher cancon requirements.

As I mentioned before Cancon requirement apply only to music elements of radio.

Radio is local by nature, thus they have decided there isn’t a need for Canadian content regulations for non-music elements such as news and talk.

Only FM stations are regulated in that one third of their programming must be local in order to receive local advertising.

AM stations are not affected.

Non- Musical Elements:But if you examine the non- musical elements of an All News or Talk/News format such as CFRB and AM 680, when covering international news such as US Election, they use direct feeds from US Networks such as CBS and ABC.

My question is how are they offering a Canadian perspective on international issues that affect Canadian society if they are regurgitating what the US networks say. Only the Radio Canada, though extremely cutback in recent years has a few Canadian journalists and foreign correspondents that provide a ‘Canadian” view.

As always Cancon is an issue of discontent among English broadcasters and audiences, but seems to be a non-issue in culturally distinct Quebec.

As I mentioned, Quebec has the highest percentage of radio audience shares with 65% French language music programming. Due to their linguistic isolation and strong government support of cultural industries, Quebec has developed a strong indigenous music industry with Quebec pop music star system that is not recognized in English Canada.

As I finish and pass on the floor to Ian to discuss Cancon in television, one thing to think about. How are Canadian content regulations going to affect us and be regulated with the advent of Internet broadcasting. Already issues have been raised about royalty and copyright issues of music and content broadcast on the Internet where Canadian content can be enjoyed by audiences around the world.

Critical analysis of the elements present within the chosen hoursGeneral:It is worth noting that this radio station generally offers many special request shows.

The station is financed by relatively little advertising and relies heavily on the support of individual financial contributions, such as donations.

News and weather:News occurred once in the two hours at 5:00:04 during this monitor, including a weather forecast running 8 seconds in total. The forecast was announced at 5:03:01 and is placed in between 2 commercial blocks also spoken by the announcer. There were 2 instances of business news. The first one occurred at 4:15:41, lasting 2 minutes 34 seconds. The second business news segment occurred at 5:29:55, and lasted 4 minutes 56 seconds. The business news is geared especially at the major target group of the listeners.

TrafficTwo traffic reports were dropped in the first hour at 4:05:00 and at 4:30:00. The first report lasted 15 seconds and the second one lasted 10 seconds. In the second hour two traffic reports were given at 5:03:01 and at 5:27:36. The first report lasted 12 seconds and the second one lasted 9 seconds.

Commercials:In the first hour there were 5 instances of professional commercials. They occurred at 4:01:05 lasting 15 seconds, at 4:05:41 lasting 20 seconds at 4:06:01 lasting 25 seconds at 4:18:15 lasting 19 seconds and at 4:32:14 lasting 34 seconds. In the second hour there was one professional commercial at 5:07:17 lasting 27 seconds. Over both hours there was a total of 5 non-professional commercials all dealing with the same sponsor, that were verbally inserted by the announcer. The target group can be easily made out if one considers the sponsor, a shop for cigar & pipe smokers.

Station specials:Most of the air time there was one host, who continuously asked for donations and did the weather, station call letters and traffic updates all by himself. There was a live piano player in the second hour who performed special requests by listeners who donated $100+ in supporting the show.

Songs:Fourteen songs were played during this monitor, 8 of them played live as special requests. All of these songs played were instrumental. No songs were cross-faded. All songs were announced by the host of the show. No songs were introduced as a short preview. The fact that all songs were so-called "Oldies" the target group has to be made up of listeners depending on memory music, i.e. "oldies for oldies."Announcer:Most information was presented by a male announcer. It is hard to place his age, but he may be in his mid-fifties. All songs were commented on specifically, and dealt with each respective history, leading to the conclusion the host himself is a jazz connaisseur. No jokes were made. The information given by the announcer was generally pertaining to the station itself, such as ID's. No stingers were audible. It was noteworthy that the announcer made a call for financial support for the Station via donations.

Conclusions of the critical analysisCJRT specializes in playing classical / jazz music. As a specialty station it appeals to listeners who enjoy classical and/or jazz tunes. Therefore, this is the only kind of music that is played on this station.

During the monitor, there were two traffic updates, due to the rush-hour time having started. It was significant that the traffic update occurred around the start of the hour and at the half hour. No sports were broadcast. The news information broadcast covered general news issues. There were two instances of business news, one in every hour. These facts lead to the conclusion that the target listeners during this time of day are interested in this kind of information.

The nature of the commercials was generally geared to a target group of 40 years and older, since the products advertised, ranged from financial investment, private banking services to pipe & tobacco products. This means the target group here consists of people, who are well established in a job, have a family and also have significant buying power.

Since the informed listener knows that CJRT only has classical/jazz music, she/he may not likely switch to another station during the show, since she/he tunes in especially to listen to this kind of music. It is significant that the program places traffic at consistent intervals, namely at the top and half of the hour, in order to keep the listener hooked. The station has to do this, since the listener needs this information. Due to the relatively limited amount of commercials and the jazz music being played in full length the station needs other sources of funding. This makes it necessary for the station to ask for donations: Call Us, donate 100$ or more and be our secret weapon." The station makes no secret of its dependency on financial donations, and comes up with an interesting way to do this: Every person can request a song and she/he will be named on air for the contribution. In the second hour a more creative scheme derives from this method. Here a live pianist plays the requested jazz tunes, which makes everything all the more immediate and appealing. In effect, the necessity of this type of money raising are a requirement for the station to survive.

Due to the announcements that are generally geared at keeping the station ID, time and financial need of the station in the listeners mind, the entire show does not have any really significant features, in terms of complex stingers or high-tech sound design. In fact, it appears that the station, short for money, has to rely on one single announcer, who does the job of many. Essentially the first hour was used as a set up, to get listeners interested in the upcoming live performance with requested songs. Overall, the station appears to have difficulty in getting money in the above mentioned way, but nevertheless, enough money seems to be generated in order to keep the station running.

To sum up one can say that CJRT is a good example of a specialty format, running on an extremely tight budget.

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# ^ "What is a Radio Station?". Radio World: pp. 6.

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