The CRTC has initiated its review of the policy framework governing commercial radio.
The first commercial radio policy update since 2014, it will encompass issues from whether Canadians are well-served by local programming requirements to the number of stations that a licensee can own in a given market.
The commission says the proceeding is aimed at establishing “a flexible regulatory framework that allows commercial radio to continue to respond in a relevant and effective manner to the current and future needs and interests of Canadians.” The commission will initiate the proceeding “through a conversation with Canadians addressing, among other things, the programming broadcast by this sector.”
The proceeding will include three phases:
- Phase 1 – conversation with Canadians through public opinion research
A conversation with Canadians in regard to their current and future needs and interests regarding commercial radio, and evaluation of the programming offered by the sector, to allow the commission to better assess the effectiveness and relevance of the current regulatory framework.
The commission has mandated a third party to lead discussion groups and implement an online survey to collect Canadians’ experiences and points of view.
- Phase 2 – a notice of consultation covering several steps
During Phase 2, the commission will publish a notice of consultation in which it will invite Canadians, including radio broadcasters, content creators, Canadian artists and all interested persons, to submit their observations on issues relating to the regulatory framework for commercial radio. The notice of consultation will include collecting comments (interventions/replies), and potentially asking additional questions to certain or all parties, to complete the public record.
The commission says it will examine, without limitation, issues relating to the current and future environment in which AM and FM commercial radio operates, as well as the impact of rapid changes on this sector, specifically in regard to profitability and competition.
To evaluate whether commercial radio’s offering of musical and spoken word programming (including news bulletins) most effectively serves the needs and interests of Canadians, it will consider programming already available through other aspects of the broadcasting system and on other platforms.
It will also look at whether regulatory tools governing radio are effective and relevant, including:
- the number of stations that a licensee can own in a given market (Common Ownership Policy);
- definitions relating to local programming, as well as levels, relevance and quality of such programming, including news bulletins and other spoken word programming;
- Canadian content development contributions;
- the regulatory framework for musical programming, including the following elements:
- the definition of a “musical selection,” including French-language vocal music (FVM) and Canadian selections (MAPL system);
- quotas relating to FVM and Canadian content;
- musical montages;
- peak listening hours;
- the policy regarding hits for bilingual markets;
- the policy regarding emerging artists;and
- content categories and sub-categories for radio.
- measures to retain, modify or put in place so that commercial radio continues to support, to the greatest extent possible, through funding, programming or any other appropriate method, the creation, broadcast, promotion and discovery of Canadian content (musical and spoken word content);
- the role of commercial radio in maintaining and enhancing linguistic duality in Canada;
- the issues addressed in the proceeding for the review of the FVM regulatory framework applicable to the French-language commercial radio sector, originally announced in the Review of the regulatory framework for French-language vocal music applicable to the French-language commercial radio sector, Broadcasting Notice of Consultation CRTC 2015-318, 20 July 2015
- Phase 3 – public hearing, if necessary
The commission intends to conduct the review without a public hearing. Taking into consideration the public record, the commission will determine whether the information collected in Phases 1 and 2 are sufficient to allow it to complete the proceeding without a hearing.
The CRTC says it will announce at a later date how and when Canadians will be able to participate in the online survey as part of the review’s initial phase.
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