Canada: RTC radio review hears opposing views on French-language requirements

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Thu May 18 13:46:08 UTC 2006

CRTC radio review hears opposing views on French-language requirements

Last Updated Wed, 17 May 2006 16:07:25 EDT

Canada's French-language radio stations can't compete in some bilingual
markets unless their French-content quotas are cut, the federal broadcast
regulator heard Tuesday. Astral Media told a Canadian Radio-television and
Telecommunications Commission hearing in Gatineau that it is doubly
hampered by current broadcast rules, which require French stations to play
minimum amounts of both Canadian and French-language music.

As a result, said Astral vice-president Pierre Rodrigue, French stations
have a harder time attracting younger listeners than their
English-language competitors, who only have to satisfy a 35-per-cent
Canadian-content quota. French-language stations must also abide by a
second CRTC-imposed quota:  65 per cent of all music they play must be in
French. Rodrigue said Astral, which owns more than 20 stations in Quebec,
would like to see the second quota dropped to 40 per cent in bilingual
markets such as Montreal.

"We think with that kind of elbow room, we'll succeed in keeping the young
people with us," he told CBC News. Rodrigue likened the situation to that
of Windsor, Ont., which has lower Cancon requirements than other Canadian
markets due to its proximity to Detroit and competition from U.S. radio.
Stations should play more emerging artists: indie label group However, a
group representing Quebec independent record labels opposes the change,
saying that the French stations are doing fine.

Instead, the Association quebecoise de l'industrie du disque, du spectacle
et de la video (ADISQ) is calling for increased regulations, including a
requirement for half of all music played on French stations to be by
emerging French artists. "I do not believe that there is a significant
disadvantage," said ADISQ president Yves-Francois Blanchet. "Actually,
what numbers and observations show is that all of these stations are
globally in pretty good shape." Another concern raised was the practice of
playing montages of many different songs. For instance, if a station plays
one musical work featuring portions from eight different tunes, it gets
airplay credit for playing eight French songs, even though it did not play
the entire songs.

The CRTC began a series of hearings Monday as part of its review of the
country's commercial radio policy. The last review took place in 1998. The
hearings will continue through Friday, with a report, including any
regulation changes, expected in late 2006 or early in 2007.

Copyright 2006 Canadian Broadcasting Corporation - All Rights Reserved

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