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February 21, 2021 9:20 am  #1


Call Letters Question

I received an email from an old friend recently, who asked a question about call letters. I thought it was interesting enough to post here.
 
"I’ve noticed that, despite their careful branding, radio stations in Canada appear to be required by law to properly I.D. themselves at the top of every hour. So 680 News becomes CFTR, Global News Radio morphs back to CFMJ, Newstalk1010 admits it’s really CFRB and Boom 97.3 has someone say CHBM.
 
But if that’s the case, why do we never hear the CBC follow suit? I don’t think I’ve ever heard “CBLA” (the actual call letters for CBC’s Toronto affiliate) use those on air. Instead, they simply say “This is CBC Radio 1, 99.1 in Toronto.” How is that a fully legal ID when the others have to break their branding? Does the CBC get an exemption for some reason because of what they are, as the country’s national broadcaster?
 
I’ve never been able to figure it out. Maybe you can tell me."

 
To be honest, I’m not sure. Does anyone know?

 

February 21, 2021 10:57 am  #2


Re: Call Letters Question

CBC Ottawa always ID's itself with "you're listening to CBC Radio" and then adds the various frequencies in the area where the signal is repeated.  

 

February 21, 2021 11:04 am  #3


Re: Call Letters Question

But what about their actual call letters? Do they ever mention them? I believe they're CBO-FM.

     Thread Starter
 

February 21, 2021 11:18 am  #4


Re: Call Letters Question

While we're at it. Few Canadian TV stations identify their call letters whatsoever. Meanwhile if you're watching say WGRZ, you will see it pop up at the top of the hour. 

 

February 21, 2021 11:40 am  #5


Re: Call Letters Question

torontostan wrote:

While we're at it. Few Canadian TV stations identify their call letters whatsoever. Meanwhile if you're watching say WGRZ, you will see it pop up at the top of the hour. 

Nowadays the only time I see a Canadian TV station state their call letters is if it's part of their branding, like CHCH and CityTV (Toronto).


PJ
 

 

February 21, 2021 12:04 pm  #6


Re: Call Letters Question

No they don't mention the actual call letters.  Perhaps because it is a CBC O and O.
CTV Ottawa identified itself the same way...CTV Ottawa.

 

February 21, 2021 12:43 pm  #7


Re: Call Letters Question

Ale Ont wrote:

No they don't mention the actual call letters.  Perhaps because it is a CBC O and O.
CTV Ottawa identified itself the same way...CTV Ottawa.

Yes CTV Kitchener never identifies themselves verbally or with a graphic as CKCO even though that is still their call letters.  For news or ID's it is always CTV Kitchener.  Years ago CTV Southwestern Ontario was the identification,  this was prior to A Channel London (CFPL) becoming CTV2 London. 

Do radio stations need to identify themselves by law at the top of the hour with call letters?  Is it a law or recommendation?  When did this happen?  I know more stations are doing the legal ID, especially news talk formats into news.  But for music stations, is it every hour?  Many now also state where they are located.  I believe Z103 in Orangeville got it's knuckles wrapped years ago when they would never mention Orangeville in their ID and tried to make it sound like they were a Toronto station. 

I know the FCC has had this on the books for over 40 years, but wasn't sure if in fact it was a law here now or recommendation by either CBSB or CRTC.  It does make sense if it is now a requirement. 

 

February 21, 2021 12:49 pm  #8


Re: Call Letters Question

And yet you would think if it applies to radio, it would also apply to TV. The posters here are correct that you rarely see a TV station's call letters referred to. Not even once a day. (In the old days, when they signed off at night, they'd mention them. Those days are long gone.) I think the last time I saw CFTO referred to on air came when they showed some old stock footage of a scene and the mic flash was visible. Other than that, you would never know. 



(Another great memory from Retrontario!)

     Thread Starter
 

February 21, 2021 1:35 pm  #9


Re: Call Letters Question

I think I found requirements for call sign identification.. however it's over 20 years old now. 
https://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/smt-gst.nsf/eng/sf01225.html
 

 

February 21, 2021 3:10 pm  #10


Re: Call Letters Question

What weird timing this is. I just found this letter to an "Ask Us" column in a Minnesota newspaper. It was published on Sunday morning. Seems I'm not the only one wondering about call letters. 

Ask Us: Radio deejays do station IDs so often for two reasons

     Thread Starter
 

February 21, 2021 3:21 pm  #11


Re: Call Letters Question

It was October 2005 that the call letters disappeared from all CTV affilliates. CFTO News at Six became CTV News at Six. The Dave Devall voiced ID "You're watching CFTO TV channel nine, in Toronto cable 8" also vanished around the same time.

 

February 21, 2021 5:57 pm  #12


Re: Call Letters Question

Ale Ont wrote:

No they don't mention the actual call letters.  Perhaps because it is a CBC O and O.
CTV Ottawa identified itself the same way...CTV Ottawa.

This may be correct since the station, in the case of CBC radio and CTV are all owned and operated by the one company.  CTV affiliates like CITL in Lloydminster Sask. and CKPR Thunder Bay have their own websites and probably still use the local call letters on local station breaks and for news. In fact CKPR identifies their local news as the Thunder Bay News Hour. with no CTV logo. 
 

Last edited by paterson1 (February 21, 2021 5:58 pm)

 

February 21, 2021 8:56 pm  #13


Re: Call Letters Question

Do call letters really serve any end purpose now? They are not used in most parts of the world. Maybe keep them around for governmental administrative purposes but to the average listener they are superfluous. 

 

February 21, 2021 9:19 pm  #14


Re: Call Letters Question

You may be right, but the question is what is legally what they have to do - and why do all the others but the CBC seem to have to do it?

     Thread Starter
 

February 21, 2021 9:50 pm  #15


Re: Call Letters Question

Back in the day there was CKDS-Stereo 95 in Hamilton. Everyday at 3:30 Richard Gale would do the full ID. “CKDS-Stereo 95 is 95.3, CKDS-FM, Hamilton, with antenna atop the CHCH-TV tower in Stoney Creek.” And then back to Invitation to Music...

 

February 21, 2021 11:38 pm  #16


Re: Call Letters Question

Most of these TV stations broadcast their call letters in digital format, but this is only visible to OTA viewers as a label on the channel. When I lived in Toronto not that long ago, CBLT IDed in this way as CBLT-DT, as did CFTO and CIII. CFPL in London also IDs as such OTA, and where I now live all the Vancouver stations use their call letters on digital OTA.

TVO, however IDed as TVO and not CICA, so the use of call letters for digital TV is not uniform in Canada.

I had heard that in the analog days, the vertical blanking interval was sometimes used to broadcast identification information, though this wouldn’t have been visible to most viewers.

Last edited by MJ Vancouver (February 21, 2021 11:44 pm)

 

February 22, 2021 11:32 am  #17


Re: Call Letters Question

I'm amazed at how often this has come up in the last 24 hours. Here's a similar question from Australia, which also delves into the U.S. and the U.K., but not, unfortunately, Canada. The rules seem to be different depending on the country. 

Callsigns for radio, what is the requirement?

 

     Thread Starter
 

February 22, 2021 11:36 am  #18


Re: Call Letters Question

Why is rule being followed accordingly by radio stations in Canada, but not on TV? I don't think a voiceover saying the callsign/city of license is necessary, even small text supered overtop regular programming would suffice- that's what some US TV stations do already.

 

February 22, 2021 3:24 pm  #19


Re: Call Letters Question

I have been listening to Hot 89.9 in Ottawa and made a point of listening for the top of the hour and within 10 minutes of 2 and 3pm and no official station break with call letters!  Never heard any call letters in over two hours.   Tsk, tsk...they do know that the CRTC offices are only a few blocks away?? In fact some of the younger CRTC staffers may be listening to them even now!!  However they did say that they were a Stingray station and that they were The New Hot 89.9 and were Ottawa's #1 Hit Music Station.  Update, been cleaning the house since the weather is crappy today and still listening to 89.9.  Again, another hour with no call letters for this station. The calls are CIHT by the way.  So listening for over 3 hours and nothin'...https://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons3/cwy.png
     The call letter saga continues.....

Last edited by paterson1 (February 22, 2021 4:15 pm)

 

February 22, 2021 8:47 pm  #20


Re: Call Letters Question

I have only ever heard the call letters once on TSN 1050 since they went all sports several years ago, and I have yet to hear the call letters on CKOC since they stopped playing music, either as TSN or BNN.


PJ


 

 

February 22, 2021 9:45 pm  #21


Re: Call Letters Question

I can't recall anyone ever referring to Sauga 960 as CKNT

 

February 22, 2021 10:01 pm  #22


Re: Call Letters Question

Paul Jeffries wrote:

I have only ever heard the call letters once on TSN 1050 since they went all sports several years ago, and I have yet to hear the call letters on CKOC since they stopped playing music, either as TSN or BNN.


PJ


 

Paul I have been meaning to tell you how much I enjoy listening to your ClassicHitsOnline.com station.  Well done!  Great music choices and a huge variety.  Love your tag line Toronto's ORIGINAL Classic Hits.  And you just played Ritchie Knight and the Midnights and Charlena, the first locally produced song to reach #1 on CHUM back in 1963. 
You play it all, and then some, good job!  You and Dale Patterson both have great stations.

 

February 22, 2021 10:09 pm  #23


Re: Call Letters Question

Just before the top of the hour TSN 1050 has a legal ID and I too have heard no IDs on CKOC.

 

February 22, 2021 10:21 pm  #24


Re: Call Letters Question

paterson1 wrote:

Paul I have been meaning to tell you how much I enjoy listening to your ClassicHitsOnline.com station.  Well done!  Great music choices and a huge variety.  Love your tag line Toronto's ORIGINAL Classic Hits.  And you just played Ritchie Knight and the Midnights and Charlena, the first locally produced song to reach #1 on CHUM back in 1963. 
You play it all, and then some, good job!  You and Dale Patterson both have great stations.

Thanks a bunch! I really appreciate that. I started doing it in 2008 just for the fun of it, and if anybody actually listened to it I considered that gravy. I'm glad you enjoy the music variety. Oddly enough, I don't feel like I'm doing anything particularly innovative in that regard; I'm just playing the hits from the past several decades. The fact that a lot of terrestrial stations don't play many of these songs because they "don't test well" makes my playlist seem much broader and well-rounded in comparison. Even though I don't make any money off of it, I like to think that I take a "business-like" approach to my station in the sense that I don't just upload a bunch of my favourite tunes and hope for the best. (If I did, my playlist would REALLY be broad and all over the place!) 

Again, thanks for the compliment. And yes, Dale Patterson has a great station too. Hopefully we can both keep things sounding interesting for many years to come. 


PJ

 

February 23, 2021 10:45 am  #25


Re: Call Letters Question

ISED's Broadcast Procedures and Rules Part 1 states:"7.2 Identification of broadcasting undertakingsPursuant to section 18 of the Radiocommunication Regulations, a broadcasting station for which a call sign has been issued must identify itself in accordance with the provisions of BETS-11."

BETS-11 in turn states:
2. Technical Requirements 2.1 Using the call sign issued to the broadcasting station, the holder of a Broadcasting Certificate shall, during any time that the broadcasting station for which that certificate was issued transmits a radio signal, identify the broadcasting station at least once every hour on the hour or within 10 minutes thereof, or at the beginning and end of a program where the program lasts longer than one hour, by a voice announcement in English or in French that: (a) articulates each letter and states any accompanying designator of the call sign of the station; and (b) names the principal city or community that is served by the station. 2.2 In the case of a television broadcasting station, the voice announcement may be replaced by a visual announcement of not less than three seconds in duration that identifies the call sign assigned to that station and the principal city or community that is served by that station. 2.3 The holder of a Broadcasting Certificate for a broadcasting station or network that originates programming shall identify at least once every day, in the manner set out in 2.1 or 2.2, as the case may be, a station that is licensed to rebroadcast the programming. 2.4 Paragraph 2.3 does not apply in respect of a rebroadcasting station where the Broadcasting Certificate issued in respect of that rebroadcasting station specifies that the rebroadcasting station: (a) has been assigned a radio frequency without protection from interference caused by a broadcasting undertaking; (b) shall not cause interference to any broadcasting undertaking; and (c) is not within any zone that, by virtue of an agreement between Canada and any other country, requires Canada to obtain the concurrence of that other country to the establishment of that rebroadcasting station."

The bottom line is that the officially assigned call letters are to be identified at least once every hour on the hour +/- 10 minutes. So most stations are in flagrant violation of the rules.  Stations such as CFTR and CFMZ are compliant at the top of the hour.
Some years ago, the programming and marketing types got all wound up with cute monikers and many abandoned call signs entirely. 
CBC's use of the prefex "CB" is by agreement with Chile, because that prefix is not assigned to Canada. They too are also non-compliant.
Now if the Federal Government wants to make a dent in the huge Covid deficit, ISED could issue Administrative Monetary penalties for a violation of the Broadcasting General Rules, which requires compliance with BRP-1
"The certificate holder must comply with the requirements of the Broadcasting Procedures and Rules BPR-1, General Rules, as amended from time to time, and to the Broadcasting Procedures and Rules corresponding to the authorized type of broadcasting undertaking, as amended from time to time. The Broadcasting Procedures and Rules can be viewed at: http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/smt-gst.nsf/eng/h_sf06134.html."
The Administrative Monetary Penalty for a Type 1 Violation such as:
"Installation, operation, or possession of any radio apparatus in contravention of any term or condition of a radio licence." is $1000 for the first occurrence and $3000 per subsequent occurrence. That amounts to $7200 per day or $26,280,000 annually, per station....

 

February 23, 2021 11:04 am  #26


Re: Call Letters Question

That's fascinating and appears to answer my friend's original question. So thanks.

It also shows almost no TV stations follow the rules, either. As noted, only City and CHCH really give their call signs on a regular basis. I've haven't seen "CFTO" referred to in years and I'm pretty sure I've never seen Global's CIII used on air. 

I suppose the government doesn't think it's a real issue because this has been going on a long time, and nothing has ever been done about it. 

     Thread Starter
 

February 23, 2021 11:36 am  #27


Re: Call Letters Question

RadioActive wrote:

That's fascinating and appears to answer my friend's original question. So thanks.

It also shows almost no TV stations follow the rules, either. As noted, only City and CHCH really give their call signs on a regular basis. I've haven't seen "CFTO" referred to in years and I'm pretty sure I've never seen Global's CIII used on air. 

I suppose the government doesn't think it's a real issue because this has been going on a long time, and nothing has ever been done about it. 

I saw the CIII call letters once, about eight years ago when there was a technical issue during Global News at 5:30. Colour bars came up and sure enough, "CIII" appeared at the bottom. It was only there for a few seconds, but I did manage to get a photo of it. I'd have to do a search for it.

I believe Retrontario has posted a couple videos from around 1984 or 85 where "C-3", spelled out as C-III was used as an alternate branding for Global for a period of time, probably owing to its Cable 3 position in most cities. Some other IDs from back then spelled out "C-I-I-I" verbally.

The one station that has basically never used its call letters is TVO. The one exception I'm aware of is from when they signed on in 1970, they showed a video of that during one of their anniversaries that verbally stated CICA-TV. I've never seen it at any other time on TVO.

Last edited by MJ Vancouver (February 23, 2021 11:43 am)

 

February 23, 2021 12:44 pm  #28


Re: Call Letters Question

I neglected to mention that the FCC is very strict about proper station identification. If you're listening to an NFL game on a US radio station like WGR, there is a Westwood One sports network identification followed by a pause for the local station to identify.

 

February 23, 2021 1:08 pm  #29


Re: Call Letters Question

Global never air call letters as part of the station ID during the regular programming day...    Never did from sign on in 1974. Just the red racing stripes that formed a G on screen, and then ran off again.

Global originally had six regional transmitters all linked across the southern portion of the province via CN Microwave (Cottam, Oil Springs, Paris, Uxbridge, Bancroft and Hull (serving Ottawa). The original call letters were CKGN, with GN referring to Global Network. The CKGN calls were originally used for a FM or TV station in Sudbury or North Bay, but had been retired for some time.

The CKGN calls were only mentioned during the sign on / sign off.

With the transmitter expansion of the mid 80s, the CKGN calls were retired, and Global started using CIII-TV to reflect the cable channel position that the majority of cable BDUs assigned Global to on their system(s).

The iconic Global "G" was replaced around 1996 or 1997 with the much loathed "toe nail". The Chevron/Delta replaced the toe nail around 2006.

Should never have replaced the original "G"...  (just my opinion)....

 

 

February 23, 2021 1:11 pm  #30


Re: Call Letters Question

MJ Vancouver wrote:

The one station that has basically never used its call letters is TVO. The one exception I'm aware of is from when they signed on in 1970, they showed a video of that during one of their anniversaries that verbally stated CICA-TV. I've never seen it at any other time on TVO.

That's probably because at the very beginning there WAS no TVO per se. There was only CICA, Channel 19, and I remember John Delazzer used to be the voice on the IDs. Once it became an Ontario network, the CICA call letters disappeared, seemingly forever.   

     Thread Starter