CRTC radio review revives Cancon debate
The rules that govern the amount of Canadian content played on the radio are being debated again, more than three decades after they were first introduced.
On Monday, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) began a series of hearings as part of its review of the country’s commercial radio policy.
The broadcast regulator’s hearings ñ which are being held all week in Gatineau, Que. ñ are expected to broach a range of topics, including increasing diversity on radio, the industry’s move to digital transmission and the amount of local news and information.
However, the issue of Cancon ñ the percentage of Canadian-made musical content that stations are required to play ñ has emerged as the dominant subject.
Currently, most commercial radio stations are required to play 35 per cent Canadian content.
Stations urge less Cancon, more ‘points’ for emerging artists
The Canadian Association of Broadcasting (CAB), which represents commercial radio stations, presented its views to the CRTC on Monday.
The group has pitched a revised Cancon judging system whereby stations would receive more credit for playing emerging Canadian acts than they would for playing established artists.
The Canadian Recording Industry Association supports similar changes.
The CAB is also pushing to ease the Cancon requirement for some stations, such as reducing it to 25 per cent for oldies stations.
The broadcasting association has argued that despite recent successes, traditional radio now faces stiff competition from newer technologies ñ including satellite radio, the internet and digital music players.
“Next door you have this new emerging universe of unregulated services ñ by way of internet, by way of broadband, by way of wireless ñ that access consumers without any regulations,” Glenn O’Farrell, the president and chief executive officer of the Canadian Association of Broadcasting, told CBC News.
“And we need to compete with that new environment.”
Voices raised for higher Cancon requirements
On the other side of the spectrum, the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN) wants the Cancon requirement raised.
According to SOCAN vice-president Paul Spurgeon, the Canadian Broadcasting Act calls for the “predominant use of Canadian resources.”
His group interprets the act as saying more than half of all music played should be homegrown.
“Some people might think it to be somewhat aggressive but we’ve looked at the law on this,” he told CBC News.
“After considering this, we can’t argue with the notion that ‘predominant’ means ‘predominant’ ñ which means more than 50 per cent.”
SOCAN is also urging the CRTC to raise the Cancon requirements for specialty radio stations, including jazz and classical stations, from the current 10 per cent to 35 per cent.
The Canadian Independent Record Production Association has similarly asked for the general Cancon quota to be raised to 45 per cent.
Since January, more than 150 individual and groups have submitted comments and topics for consideration to the CRTC in relation to the Commercial Radio Review.
The last review took place in 1998. Another was scheduled for 2003 but the commission decided to postpone the review while it dealt with applications to introduce satellite radio to Canada.
A report, including any regulation changes, is expected later in 2006 or early in 2007.