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TUCoPS :: Radio :: micropow.htm

Micropower broadcasting in Canada - the CRTC's opinion
Canadian Micro-power broadcasting Information Here's the low-down'n'dirty on low-power broadcasting in Canada as of February 28, 1996.

Hope you like!

Also, you may want to check out the FAQ while yo're at it... Some useful little calculations and the like.

This just in: THE FREE RADIO NETWORK! seems to have a great deal of information for all.

Ottawa, 30 April 1993

Public Notice CRTC 1993-46


The Commission, pursuant to subsection 9(4) of the Broadcasting Act, by this 
order, exempts from the requirements of Part 1 of the Act and any 
regulations, those persons carrying on broadcasting undertakings of the 
class defined by the following criteria:


The purpose of these radio programming undertakings is to allow those such 
as real estate agents, store owners and local authorities to communicate to 
the public messages of an informative, sometimes commercial nature, 
regarding their activities by means of ultra low-power transmitters, e.g., 
"talking signs".


1.The undertaking operates between 525 and 1705 kHz in the AM frequency 
band, or between 88 and 107.5 MHz in the FM frequency band.

2.In the case of an undertaking using the AM broadcasting band, the maximum 
power output of the transmitter into its antenna, without modulation, does 
not produce a field strength, as measured at a distance of 30 metres, of 
more than 0.25 millivolts per metre (mV/m) and, in the case of an 
undertaking using the FM broadcasting band, the maximum power output of the 
transmitter into its antenna, without modulation, does not produce a field 
strength, as measured at a distance of 30 metres, of more than 0.1 mV/m. 
3.The Commission would not be prohibited from licensing the undertaking by 
virtue of any direction to the Commission by the Governor in Council.

4.The undertaking meets all technical requirements of the Department of 
Communications and has acquired all authorizations or certificates 
prescribed by the Department.

5.The undertaking originates all of its programming.

6.The undertaking does not rebroadcast the programming of another 

7.The undertaking does not broadcast programming that is religious or 
political in nature.

8.The undertaking, if it promotes commercial activity , e.g., "talking 
signs", or is commercially oriented, does not broadcast the same message on 
more than one transmitter.

Allan J. Darling

Secretary General

DOC. #: AVI93-46

Ottawa, 14 January 1994

Public Notice CRTC 1993-46-1


In Public Notice CRTC 1993-46,
dated 30 April 1993, the Commission published an exemption order respecting 
low-power radio: Ultra low-power announcement service (LPAS) undertakings.

The first paragraph of this exemption order incorrectly referred to "Part I" 
of the Broadcasting Act, when it should have stated "Part II". Accordingly, 
the Commission hereby corrects Public Notice CRTC 1993-46 by substituting 
the expression "Part II".

Allan J. Darling
Secretary General

DOC. #: AVI93-46-1

Ottawa, 28 June 1993

Public Notice CRTC 1993-95



In Public Notice CRTC 1992-21, the Commission issued for public
comment a series of questions related to the establishment of a priority 
system for the licensing of low-power radio stations. The questions were 
designed to elicit comment that would assist the Commission in developing a 
policy to ensure that low-power frequencies be used for purposes that best 
fulfil the objectives of the Broadcasting Act.

Nine submissions were received in response to the public notice. While most 
of the submissions addressed the general questions concerning the 
establishment of a priority system for licensing low-power radio stations, 
only the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB) and the National Campus 
and Community Radio Association (NCRA), responded to all or most of the 
questions, and suggested modifications to the Commission's proposed policy.

This notice summarizes the responses received to the various questions set 
out in the public notice, and sets out the Commission's licensing policy for 
low-power radio broadcasting.

The Commission emphasizes that this policy does not apply to those persons 
operating low-power radio operations that were specifically exempted from 
licensing in Public Notices CRTC 1993-44 (Temporary Resource Development 
Distribution Undertakings), 1993-45 (Limited Duration Special Event 
Facilitating Undertakings) 1993-46 (Ultra Low-Power Announcement Service 
Undertakings), 1993-47 (Carrier Current Undertakings Whose Services are not 
Carried on Cable Systems), or to those persons operating any other low-power 
radio undertakings that the Commission may exempt in the future.

B.Questions and Responses
In its public notice, the Commission asked three general questions:
Should a system of priorities be devised as part of a licensing policy for 
low-power radio?
What should be its elements?
In what order of importance should those elements be ranked?

The public notice then called for comments on five elements that might be 
included in a priority system. These elements are:

a)availability of frequencies, b)content of programming, c)correlation 
between power and potential audience, d)duration of service, and 
e)availability of alternate means of delivery.

Finally, the Commission posed subsidiary questions relating to the 
implementation of a priority system, in particular, when to apply such a 
priority system, whether to issue calls for competing applications, the need 
for market studies, the use of rebroadcasters, and the need for a Promise of 
Performance. 1. The Need For a Priority System

Seven of the nine briefs received by the Commission addressed the general 
issue of whether the Commission should establish a priority system for the 
licensing of low-power radio stations. All considered that a priority system 
should form part of the policy for low-power radio, with priority given to 
conventional stations, including not-for-profit stations, over 
non-conventional or one-dimensional services, such as tourist information 

2. The Five Elements:

a)Availability of Frequencies
In the public notice, the Commission asked:  What should be the relative 
importance in a priority hierarchy of the availability of low-power 
frequencies in any area?
Six submissions addressed this question. All considered that the 
availability of frequencies should be the primary consideration in such a 
system. Two of those argued that the availability of frequencies must be 
considered to ensure that sufficient spectrum is available for the 
establishment of not-for-profit campus, community or native stations.

With respect to content, the Commission posed the following questions:
What should be the relative importance of content among the elements in a 
Should the various types of services (conventional, safety, traffic 
information, etc.) be
ranked in order of public necessity and, if so, how? Which of the various 
types of
undertakings should be allowed to provide commercial content? What types of 
commercial activity (conventional or sponsorship) should be permitted, and 
how much? Should there be a provision with respect to certain undertakings 
to ensure equitable opportunity for advertisers to have their messages 

Six parties expressed the view, in general, that conventional stations 
should have priority over one-dimensional services.  The NCRA stated that 
not-for-profit stations should be accorded top priority and that commercial 
broadcasters should be excluded from using low-power frequencies. The NCRA 
added that, even if the Commission were to decide to continue to license 
low-power conventional commercial stations, it should not licence 
for-profit, one-dimensional services.
The CBC considered that originating and rebroadcasting stations with 
programming aimed at a general audience should be given priority over 
one-dimensional services.
According to the CAB, the best way of resolving the question of priorities 
would be to establish two broad categories of undertakings. Priority A would 
encompass all
conventional stations, while one-dimensional services would fall into 
Priority B. Priority B stations could be divided further into two 
sub-categories, one for not-for-profit public services and the other for 
profit-oriented services. With respect to the permitted levels of 
advertising, the CAB argued that the status quo should be
maintained for not-for-profit stations and that private, profit-oriented 
services be the only ones in the Priority B category permitted to broadcast 
advertising. The CAB also considered that government-sponsored services 
should be financed entirely from public funds, and special events stations 
should be funded entirely by the sponsoring organization. For its part, the 
NCRA recommended that only conventional stations be permitted to have 
commercial content in their programming.

c)Correlation Between Power and Coverage
The Commission sought answers to the following questions:  What should be 
the relative importance among the elements in a priority hierarchy of 
transmitter power or coverage area?  What should be the appropriate power 
and coverage combination for each type of low-power undertaking?

Four briefs addressed these questions. There was a consensus among them for 
giving priority status to conventional stations and for limiting commercial 
one-dimensional services to very low- power operation.  One submission 
considered that, in remote areas, conventional commercial broadcasters 
be allowed to use Low-Power AM (LPAM) or Low-Power FM (LPFM) frequencies 
because there would be no need to use more power to reach the potential 

d)Duration of Service
The Commission asked:  What should be the relative importance among the 
elements in a priority hierarchy of duration of service?

Two briefs addressed the issue. The NCRA considered that not-for-profit 
broadcasters should not be penalized if they offered less than full-time 
service. The CAB, however, maintained that duration of service should be 
considered on a case-by-case basis in areas where channels are scarce.

e)Availability of Alternate Means of Delivery:
The Commission asked:  What should be the relative importance in a priority 
hierarchy of the availability of alternative means of delivery?

The briefs that addressed this issue argued that one-dimensional, 
profit-oriented services should be required to demonstrate that low-power AM 
and FM radio frequencies are the only possible means of providing the type 
of service they propose.

C.The Commission's Policy -- Introduction of a Priority System for Licensing 
Power Radio

The submissions revealed a consensus on the need to establish a priority 
system as part of a licensing policy. Such a system would give priority to 
conventional broadcasting services over one-dimensional services, such as 
those providing tourist information services, and would apply in areas where 
there is a scarcity of frequencies. The Commission also considers that 
not-for-profit stations should reasonably be accorded precedence.

The Commission therefore establishes the following priority system for the 
licensing of low-power radio undertakings. The priority system will 
generally be applied in areas that the Commission has previously identified 
as those where available frequencies are scarce on the basis of the 
projected FM frequency requirements of the CBC, private commercial, 
educational, community and campus broadcasters. These areas are 
Vancouver/Victoria, Montreal and surrounding area and Southern Ontario. When 
considering competing applications for the use of low-power frequencies in 
these areas where such frequencies are scarce, the Commission will generally 
give priority to conventional broadcasting services (Priority A) over one-
dimensional services (Priority B). Moreover, the Commission will generally 
attach to the various types of services falling within the two priority 
groupings a priority that corresponds to their relative ranking within each, 
as set out below:

Priority A Services:
1)Originating conventional not-for-profit radio services (e.g. community, 
campus and native);
2)Originating conventional for-profit radio services (private commercial
broadcasters, including ethnic);
3)Rebroadcasting transmitters of local stations rebroadcasting within the
station's contour;
4)Rebroadcasting transmitters of distant signals (the CBC will have priority
within this sub-group of Priority A services).
Priority B Services:
1)Not-for-profit public information services (e.g. traffic or weather 
2)Commercial announcement services.

The following three factors may also be considered by the Commission in its 
evaluation of competing applications of the same type for the same low-power 
frequency. The Commission realizes, however, that the relative importance of 
each of these factors may vary depending on the type of service proposed. 
Such importance will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. The correlation 
between power and potential audience: Generally speaking the Commission will 
consider that the larger the audience served by the undertaking, the higher 
the priority it should be accorded.
The duration of service: the longer a proposed service is to be on the air 
(whether on a daily, weekly, monthly or yearly basis), the more valuable it 
generally will be deemed to be.

The availability of alternate means of delivery: non-conventional services 
that can be
delivered effectively only through use of a broadcasting frequency will 
generally be considered to have a higher priority than those that can be 
provided by alternate means, such as through the use of roadside signs or 

Subsidiary Issues

1. Application of the Priority System

In its public notice, the Commission asked:  Should a priority system be 
applied at the time of the licensing decision, at the time of renewal, or at 
the time the undertaking with the higher priority goes on air?

Only the CAB responded to this question. It considered that it would be 
neither practicable nor desirable for the Commission to alter the priority 
status of operations that have already been licensed. It therefore 
recommended that, once licensed, a station should not have to change 
frequency or be obliged to cease operation because of the licensing of 
another undertaking that, under Commission policy, might have had a higher 

The Commission agrees. It will therefore apply the priority system only in 
assessing new applications competing for use of the same frequency.

2.Calls and Market Criteria

The Commission asked the following questions:
Should the Commission issue a call for competing applications in the case of
applications for low-power undertakings, and, if not generally, under what 
circumstances? Should [the] process and criteria [in Public Notice CRTC 
1991-74] be applied to low-power undertakings?

The CAB and the NCRA addressed these issues and expressed differing views.
On the question of whether there should be calls for competing applications, 
the NCRA considered that there is no need to issue a call for a drop-in 
frequency unless two or more applications proposing not-for-profit services, 
and seeking use of the same frequency, are filed with the Commission. 
Further, it recommended that commercial broadcasters and non-conventional 
services should be excluded from competing for an identified drop-in 
frequency with applicants proposing not-for-profit operations.

The CAB, for its part, however, considered that whenever any application is 
received for a LPFM in a geographic area where frequencies are scarce, the 
Commission should issue a call for competing applications.

With respect to the Radio Market Criteria, the NCRA considered the criteria 
should not
be applied in assessing applications by those proposing new low-power 
undertakings because the criteria are not relevant to not-for-profit 
broadcasters. The NCRA added, however, that if the Commission wished to 
establish criteria for low-power community radio undertakings, a limit based 
on population should be considered (e.g. no more than one such undertaking 
should be licensed for each 100,000 residents of an area). The CAB argued 
that those seeking licences for
ethnic undertakings, or for undertakings that would be not-for-profit, 
should be subject to the Radio Market Criteria because they are allowed to 
broadcast advertising.
In light of its policy determination to apply a priority system in assessing 
competing applications proposing new, low-power radio services, and only in 
relationship to each other, it will be necessary for the Commission to issue 
a call upon receipt of any completed application. It further considers that 
its decision to grant the highest priority to not-for-profit undertakings 
should alleviate concerns expressed by the NCRA that those seeking licences 
to operate such  undertakings would otherwise face a disadvantage in 
competing with commercial broadcasters for low-power frequencies.
The Commission will therefore issue calls for competing applications upon 
receipt of any and all complete applications for licences to carry on 
low-power undertakings in areas where frequencies are scarce (as identified 
above). The receipt of applications proposing a service in areas where 
frequencies are not scarce will not trigger such a call.

The Commission recognizes the concerns expressed by the CAB about the impact 
of new low-power stations on the revenues of commercial radio stations. It 
notes, however, that the radio market criteria have not been applied to 
not-for-profit stations in the past, and it does not wish to implement a 
policy that would unnecessarily inhibit the development of this sector of 
radio broadcasting. The Commission is also satisfied that the impact of any 
new not-for-profit, low-power stations on the revenues of commercial radio 
stations would be limited. The Commission will therefore apply the radio 
market criteria only to new commercial (for-profit) low-power radio 
undertakings; non-conventional services will be excluded from application of 
market criteria.


The Commission asked:  Should the Commission continue to consider 
applications for the use of low-power transmitters to rebroadcast the 
programming of existing undertakings? Under what circumstances should it do 
so, for instance, in cases where technical problems limit coverage within an 
undertaking's licensed service area?

Three submissions addressed the issue.
Both the CBC and the CAB considered that the Commission should continue to 
authorize the licensees of existing stations to establish rebroadcasting 
transmitters, and that a lower priority should be given to rebroadcasters of 
distant signals than to rebroadcasters of local stations proposed for the 
purpose of solving coverage problems
The NCRA considered that, as a rule, new rebroadcaster transmitters of 
existing commercial services should not be permitted, other than in 
mountainous areas where the applicant is licensed to serve a region or a 
number of small communities. In such cases, the applicant should have to 
demonstrate that there is no alternative but to install a rebroadcasting 
transmitter to provide its service and that there are other frequencies 
available for use in the area to allow the establishment of future 
not-for-profit stations.

The Commission supports the view that rebroadcasters of local services 
designed to alleviate coverage difficulties should have a higher priority 
than rebroadcasting transmitters for non-local services, and this has been 
incorporated into the priority system set out earlier in this document.

4.Applications for Multiple Low-Power Frequencies for Non-Conventional Use

In its policy proposal, the Commission described a situation where one or 
more applicants might propose to employ several low-power frequencies for 
non-conventional use, thereby exhausting the frequencies available in a 
particular area. It then posed the following question:  How could the 
relative merits of the types of proposals described above be assessed in a 
priority system?

The CAB addressed this matter and suggested that there should not be a 
separate process developed for such a situation.

The Commission agrees, and will deal with such applications using the 
priority system set out earlier. To the extent that the applications have 
features not contemplated in this notice, the Commission will proceed on a 
case-by-case basis.

5.Competitive Non-Conventional Services

In its public notice, the Commission asked:  Should the Commission's 
licensing policy for low-power radio preclude the licensing of competitive, 
non-conventional services?

Three submissions addressed the issue.

The NCRA and the licensee of a campus radio station considered that the 
Commission should not grant licences to competitive, non-conventional 
services, while the CAB indicated that such licensing should be permitted if 
the applicant can demonstrate both a need and commercial viability.

The Commission appreciates that over-licensing of competitive 
non-conventional services in areas where frequencies are scarce could lead 
to congestion of the radio band and hinder the future development of 
conventional low-power radio services. However, in areas where there is a 
relative abundance of frequencies, there would seem to be little reason to 
exclude, out of hand, the possibility of competitive non-conventional 
services. The Commission further notes that non-conventional services will 
be given a lower priority than conventional services under the system
outlined earlier in this document.

The Commission will therefore consider the licensing of competitive non-
conventional commercial services on a case-by-case basis. In areas where 
there is a scarcity of frequencies, the priority system outlined earlier in 
this document will be applied.

6.Use of the Extended AM band

The Commission asked:  To what extent might some of the services currently 
being contemplated for low-power undertakings be accommodated on the newly 
extended upper portion of the AM band?

The NCRA, the CBC and the CAB agreed that some non-conventional public 
announcement services, such as those that provide information to tourists 
and motorists, should be accommodated on the extended AM band.

While noting the position expressed in these submissions, the Commission 
considers that it is too early to gauge the eventual demand for use of the 
extended portion of the AM band. It is possible that the extended AM band 
will represent a better alternative for a conventional broadcaster than use 
of LPAM or LPFM facilities. The Commission therefore considers it premature 
to support the move of some non-conventional services to the extended AM 
band. It will delay announcement of any determination on this question until 
an evaluation of the potential impact of
such a move is completed.

7. Application of the Radio Regulations, 1986 (the regulations) and/or 
Promises of Performance

The Commission asked the following questions:  To what extent should the 
provisions of the regulations be applicable to the various types of 
low-power programming undertakings?  To what extent should such low-power 
undertakings be required to comply with a Promise of Performance?

Five submissions addressed these questions.

The NCRA considered that basic licensing requirements create legitimacy for 
not-for-profit operations and should thus be maintained, but with enough 
flexibility for programming to develop. The NCRA also stated that, should 
the Commission decide to licence commercial broadcasting undertakings in the 
LPFM band, they should be subject to all regulations and requirements 
governing full-power commercial broadcasting.

The CBC recommended that low-power stations broadcasting travel and traffic 
information announcements as a public service should be relieved of the 
requirement to maintain logs and recordings of material that is broadcast.
The CAB considered there to be no need to change the requirements for 
campus/community instructional and ethnic stations, but that the Commission 
should allow more flexibility in the case of non-conventional programming 
One campus radio station licensee urged the Commission to maintain the 
Promise of
Performance and other requirements in the case of competing low-power 
undertakings.  The Canadian Independent Record Production Association 
considered that the regulations, especially their requirements for Canadian 
content, should also apply to low-power undertakings that provide 
conventional programming services.

The Commission considers that the regulations should apply to the licensees 
of conventional low-power undertakings since they offer programming that is 
similar to that of higher-power conventional stations. It further considers 
that it is appropriate to require licensees of conventional low-power FM 
stations to submit Promises of Performance. In the case of non-conventional 
services, it might not be appropriate to apply all of the regulations or 
require Promises of Performance. However, the Commission considers that a 
condition of licence should be attached to the licences of non-conventional 
stations to ensure that they do not change their programming
and begin to offer services identical or similar to those of conventional 
licensees, without prior Commission approval. The Commission will therefore 
generally require licensees of conventional low-power radio stations to 
adhere to the regulations, unless otherwise specified by condition of 
licence, and will require the licensees of conventional low-power FM 
stations to file Promises of Performance. The question of whether to require 
adherence to the regulations by the licensees of non-conventional
services will be considered on a case-by-case basis. In addition, licensees 
of non-conventional low-power undertakings will be subject to a condition of 
licence that defines their programming in such a way as to ensure that they 
do not change their programming and begin to offer the same services as 
conventional licensees without Commission approval.

Allan J. Darling
Secretary General

DOC. #: AVI93-95

...And there you have it.


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