Four in 10 Canadians listening to commercial radio daily

Four in 10 Canadians are listening to commercial radio daily – the most of any broadcast platform, while seven in 10 (68%) say they’re listening weekly, according to newly-released CRTC report, Attitudes and Opinions Towards Commercial Radio in Canada.

Conducted by Ipsos on behalf of the CRTC, the public opinion research report draws its results from a series of focus groups and an online survey. Executed in two phases, the first phase was conducted with 88 participants across 13 focus groups (nine in English, four in French) in March 2020, while the second phase included 1,735 Canadians, 18+, in mid- to late November. Nearly 3,000 people also completed the CRTC’s online public survey.

In addition to gaining a better understanding of Canadians’ listening habits, the research also measured support for CanCon and French-language music requirements, and views toward regulation and ownership.

Frequency of Listening to Programming on Broadcast Platforms

Key findings included that Canadians consider commercial radio to be the most important broadcast platform to have access to (45% 8-10 on 10 pt scale), specifically for music (64%) and local news content (57%). Only 28% put the same importance on having access to CBC Radio/ICI Radio-Canada, while 28% placed more import on music streaming services and 19% on podcasts.

Among the radio programming respondents rated highly were having access to weather (51%), national news (48%), international news (40%), talk radio (22%), and contesting (10%).

The research found that 80% of those listening are still tuning in the car, followed by traditional radio listeners at 38%. 47% of listeners said they are generally satisfied with their commercial radio experience, while just 35% are happy with the variety of programming and 32% with diversity of songs and artists, with 51% finding its too focused on popular music.

Perceived Importance of Various Broadcasting Platforms

The fact commercial radio is free is by far its most appealing feature for Canadians (60%), followed by convenience (30%), connection to community (30%), music variety (27%) and reliable source of information (26%). The most common suggested areas for improvement were fewer commercials (43%), more diversity in musical content (32%), more local content (20%), and more timely news coverage (18%).

CanCon requirements

While 62% of those surveyed strongly or somewhat agreed that it’s essential to promote Canadian artists, sentiment towards promoting French-language music was stronger among Francophones at 72%. 60% of Canadians feel it’s important to continue to promote Canadian artists through content rules, with 51% saying more should be done to promote emerging Canadian artists on commercial radio.

Canadian and French Content Percentage Requirements

Support for current Canadian content and French-language music rules for commercial radio is strong and highest for popular music (60% strongly/somewhat support) and French-language music (60% among Francophones), followed by special interest music rules (53%). Attitudes are more mixed on whether the percentage of required content should increase in the future.

General Attitudes and Opinions

Most agree streaming music services should be required to support the Canadian broadcast sector (53% strongly/somewhat agree), but feel that any future regulations should not interfere with consumers’ ability to choose the content they want (68%). 54% also support requiring streaming services to ensure a minimum amount of Canadian content in their playlists.

Ownership concerns

Ipsos found that some concern exists about concentration of ownership and limited access to different sources of information. While nearly half of Canadians are unaware of which companies operate the radio stations they listen to, 42% expressed concern about the concentration of ownership.

Find the full report, here.

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