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November 15, 2015 1:48 pm  #1

The fight to dial down French-language radio quotas

[Via TheStar]

MONTREAL—For minority groups, even the smallest bump in the road can seem like an existential mountain. But the one facing Quebec’s francophone musicians could in fact be fairly significant.

In a world of streaming, downloading and a generally more diffuse distribution of French-language music, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission wants to decide what is more important: giving pop radio listeners what they want, or giving them what may be crucial to keeping Quebecois culture alive.
Public hearings on the matter were to have taken place this month but have been delayed. Still, the decision looms and the two options seem far apart.

There are about a hundred private francophone radio stations in Quebec and another half-dozen in Ontario and New Brunswick that are pushing for their French-language music quotas to be scaled back. The stations, owned by Bell Media, Cogeco and other companies, say they need greater flexibility to keep up with competitors who are online rather than on the AM or FM dials, and who can play the music that best connects their paying advertisers to their listening demographic, be it French or English.

The national regulator appears to agree that radio stations need a break, or at least “greater flexibility,” as it said in a letter outlining the terms for the hearings.

Current CRTC rules state that 35 per cent of all music played on private pop radio stations — both English and French — must be Canadian. But the francophone stations have an additional obligation to ensure that 65 per cent of their music is in French. The stations now see as a penalty a rule drafted in the 1970s to protect and promote French-Canadian culture at a time when the only alternatives to radio were the record and the eight-track.


Madness takes its toll.  Please have exact change.