Thursday, 4 October 2012

Moses Znaimer is a HUGE crybaby. And other reactions to the CRTC's ruling on 88.1fm in Toronto.


I have already written extensively about how the CRTC awarded the 88.1fm frequency lost by CKLN when they had their license revoked to a small group calling themselves "INDIE 88". They caught many by surprise when they beat out 21 other applicants most of which had bigger names and more money. Among those other applicants shocked by the results were PROUD FM, a gay themed radio station owned by the giant Evanov group who were the first to apply and Ryerson University who were expecting to get the license back and former City TV and Much Music Head Honcho Moses Znaimer.

First PROUD FM; Their application was to move from their current frequency at 103.9fm where they are limited to 60 watts and get a power upgrade which which they could reach the entire city. Evanov has insisted that without that increase PROUD FM can not stay in business. In the weeks before the decision was announced Evanov announced they were closing their Downtown offices and consolidating in their Mississauga office (Evanov owns a station in 905 country already; Z103fm, along with dozens more across Canada) and they were also laying off most of their staff. Some staff were willing to stay on as volunteers.

As one report in "XTRA" put it;

"In February, management decided to move administrative staff out of its Wellesley St location because of the neighbourhood’s increasingly high rents. The business side of Proud FM is now located across town, at Evanov’s headquarters at 5312 Dundas St W.

In 2010, Proud FM let go of four popular on-air hosts — Deb Pearce, Patrick Marano, Shaun Proulx and Mark Wigmore. Earlier, in November 2007, the station fired popular talent Maggie Cassella, Richard Ryder and a number of staffers. Ryder was eventually rehired."

"Willette says so much depends on the application for university radio station CKLN at 88.1 FM, which was owned by Ryerson University for almost three decades.

CKLN is bidding to get the licence back, but it has stiff competition: 27 groups applied for it last year, and 22 made the first cut in March, including Proud FM.

Since Evanov first won the licence for Proud FM in 2006, the station has been plagued by a weak frequency at 103.9 FM, says Evanov VP Carmela Laurignano.

The problem is Proud FM sits too close to Z103.5 on the dial, so they risk interfering with each other. As a result, Proud FM’s downtown transmission has been limited to 50 watts — too weak to penetrate downtown buildings. That means listeners can’t get a good signal, even in Toronto’s gay village.

“They can’t sell any ads now because of the signal strength,” Bellini says.

A move to 88.1 FM would entirely eliminate the problem, Willette says, noting that 88.1 FM is 128 watts, with a tower at First Canadian Place. “If we get 88.1 FM, then all of a sudden people who couldn’t hear us before can hear us. That means more listeners, so hopefully that equals more money.”

A lot has changed since 2006, she says. Although Evanov was well aware that Z103.5 bumped into 103.9 FM, they didn’t anticipate Toronto’s condo boom.

“We need that stronger signal to bring in more advertisers and grow,” she says.

Laurignano says the CRTC may also look favourably on the Proud FM bid because the station has fulfilled all of its application expectations, which Evanov agreed to when it bid for the licence. “We have fulfilled every single one,” she says.

But Proud FM falls short on programming — seven hours per week of newscasts and 21 hours of talk — which is a result of the staff cuts, she says. The station maintains its commitment to play 40 percent Canadian music.

Meanwhile, Toronto’s Proud FM is still alive, Willette assures, but the station is on life support and the future is uncertain. “Proud FM will always be around in one capacity or another. To what extent we can maintain live shows and a presence on the street? That is a valid question. I don’t know.”

Note; One important item left out of the report (and others) was the fact that PROUD FM recently got a power upgrade that they have yet to implement. At the hearings the CRTC took some exception to this and it alone was probably enough to deny them this upgrade. There has been little post rejection reaction as of yet from PROUD FM although I did notice some new ads in Now Magazine so I guess they aren't ready to give up the ghost yet.


Meanwhile back at Ryerson we can safely say that they are not pleased. And the NCRA are REALLY not happy;

(From a Trent University Paper);

The NCRA and Rodney Diverlus, President of the Ryerson Student Union, used the application process to emphasis the importance of community radio in general:

“We sent a clear message to the CRTC that we, as the future leaders and community members, see value in a radio station that is for our community and the broader Toronto community. Unfortunately this means less young voices and community voices will be heard on the airwaves.”

The diversity of voices requirement is based on a CRTC mandate and was interpreted by the NCRA’s Executive director Shelley Robinson as a diversity of voices participating in radio, not just represented by a radio station’s demographic or listenership:

“There is already so much commercial radio available,” she said. “This was a chance for something different. Radio Ryerson was a place where people would get to be citizens and creators, not just passive consumers of a set format.”

Trent Alumni and BCIT radio broadcasting student Philip Benmore noted a larger trend at the CRTC “away from grassroots, not-for-profit media, towards corporate controlled and heavily formatted commercial radio.”

Wait! Then there's my personal favorite part;

"Local NCRA member Trent Radio weighed in on the consultation process to lend support to campus/community radio in general. At an April 1st, 2012 meeting of the board, Trent Radio decided to support Radio Ryerson’s application, not with “cogent and winning arguments,” (since the application was deemed to be sufficient in such endeavours) but with a short statement of approval that included the quip: “Toronto needs all the community it can get.”


Umm...Yeah, Right. Good Call. Who needs "cogent and winning arguments" anyway when you have endorsements like that? And speaking of useless know-it-alls; what does the NCRA have to say about this?

From Vanmusic;

Radio Ryerson did not get their license back

15 September 2012 Despite public access option, CRTC decides to licence yet another commercial radio station.

Toronto is less indie now as they lost a campus-community radio. The CRTC has decided not to award 88.1FM to a campus-community radio licensee. The slot was given to commercial radio station Rock 95 . Its a great loss not only to Toronto but to the indie radio community.

“We sent a clear message to the CRTC that we, as the future leaders and community members, see value in a radio station that is for our community and the broader Toronto community. Unfortunately this means less young voices and community voices will be heard on the airwaves.” said Ryerson Student Union President Rodney Diverlus who also praised student efforts to win 88.1. “Students voted overwhelmingly in favour of funding a campus-community radio station through a referendum. We sent a clear message to the CRTC that we, as the future leaders and community members, see value in a radio station that is for our community and the broader Toronto community.”

"The National Campus and Community Radio Association also appeared in support of a campus-community radio license for 88.1FM over a commercial license. “I am very disappointed in this decision,” said NCRA’s Executive Director Shelley Robinson. “There is already so much commercial radio available and now there is one less opportunity for people in Toronto to directly access their local airwaves and represent their communities. Radio Ryerson was a place where people would get to be citizens and creators, not just consumers.”

"Press release from NCRA;

Today the CRTC licenced a commercial radio station for the last viable frequency in Toronto and denied the application of Radio Ryerson, making one less space available for community access to public airwaves.

Competing with dozens of prospective commercial radio stations, a group of Ryerson University students, faculty and community supporters proposed a station where the city and its many communities could speak for themselves and to their neighbours, sharing stories and music under-represented in other media.

Rodney Diverlus, President of the Ryerson Student Union, says the loss stretches beyond the campus.

“We sent a clear message to the CRTC that we, as the future leaders and community members, see value in a radio station that is for our community and the broader Toronto community. Unfortunately this means less young voices and community voices will be heard on the airwaves.” Shelley Robinson, Executive Director of the National Campus and Community Radio Association (NCRA) agrees.

“There is already so much commercial radio available,” she said. “This was a chance for something different. Radio Ryerson was a place where people would get to be citizens and creators, not just passive consumers of a set format.”

Jacky Tuinstra-Harrison was acting Station Manager and led Ryerson Radio’s application. She says she’s not sure next for the station, given the loss.

“There was such momentum. I had new students, up-and-coming musicians, senior citizens and my own neighbours asking how they could be involved,” she said, noting that the Broadcasting Act recognizes three pillars of Canadian broadcasting: commercial radio, public radio and community radio. “88.1FM ought to have been the place where we could live up to that ideal.”

Ah yes; all this misty eyed eulogizing of the Golden Age of CKLN when it was an open and accessible place rather than a hothouse of extremist politics and vicious turf wars is almost enough to make you forget the last several years of scorched earth warfare. Not to mention the roles that the Ryerson Student Union and the NRCA played in encouraging that strife in the furtherance of their own power hungry agendas that eventually led to the RSU's forcible seizure of the station. But not quite.


The various rejected other applicants which included the likes of The CBC, CHOQ, CARN CHIN and various heavyweights have been pretty quiet. Although one applicant; LIFE 100.3, a Christian Radio station based in Barrie who applied for a religious station, did send out a more gracious concession on their website;

September 11, 2012 The CRTC has denied our application for Christian radio at 88.1FM. The commission approved the application by Rock 95 Broadcasting Ltd.
Thank you to all who prayed and supported Trust Communications Ministry through this process."

But then again Trust Communications were always more realistic about their long shot status.

An applicant from Larche Communications inc. for an Easy Listening station to be called "Metro 88" has completely pulled their website without explanation although oddly their Twitter page is still up for now. Albeit there hasn't been a posting since spring.

And then there Moses Znaimer. He also put in an application to add 88.1 to their existing AM station. He is not a happy camper;


Znaimer calls CRTC Toronto radio licence decision "appalling"
September 13, 2012
By Greg O’Brien

MONTREAL – Zoomer Media president and CEO Moses Znaimer was in Montreal Wednesday to watch the CRTC in action as it considers the proposed purchase of Astral Media by Bell Canada, but he was still shaken by Tuesday’s Commission decision on the 88.1 FM frequency in Toronto.
To say he’s not happy is an understatement. Znaimer told in an interview the decision to grant the license to Rock 95 so it can launch a station with an independent music format was “appalling. It was stunningly insensitive and entirely inappropriate – and it’s galling to hear them talk about diversity in there (during the ongoing hearing here) as if they are protectors of it in the light of that decision.”
Znaimer says the rock genre – even if this one is aimed at indie acts and emerging Canadian artists – is very well represented in and around Toronto and another station hitting the same demographic is a mistake. “There are a handful or rock radio stations in Toronto today and if you add the ones on the periphery, there must be well over a dozen,” he added.
Zoomer media was one of 22 applicants to appear at the CRTC hearing in May hoping to gain the licence to operate at 88.1 FM, the license the CRTC revoked from Ryerson University in 2010 due to various infractions over a number of years. Some applicants wanted to launch new stations while others, like Znaimer, wanted to take an existing AM station to FM.
Znaimer wanted to move The New AM740 Zoomer Radio, his station aimed at the 45 and older demographic that suffers from, well, being an AM station and all the sound quality and interference challenges of that brings, to FM. Zoomer also owns another Toronto FM station, The New Classical 96.3 FM as well as Vision TV, JoyTV, One: Body Mind and Spirit, Zoomer Magazine and other assets.
The long-time broadcasting executive whose whole business is aimed at the 45-and-up set is very angry that with this new station a demographic which he and many others say just don’t listen to radio any more will still get another station.
“We brought forward evidence that was overwhelming to demonstrate that the largest percentage of the population throughout Canada today is what we identify as Zoomer – 45-plus – and we brought forward overwhelming evidence that all the radio stations currently are piled up in the demos that lie just younger than that,” said Znaimer.
“Even though there are one or two other stations that acquire an older audience, they don’t do that with a view of serving the older audience with information to make their life better, to give them advice on health and wellness, financial security and so on,” he added.
But why can’t that be done on the AM dial? “Every other station over the last 20 years has made the transition because AM is a medium in decline and in downtown Toronto it’s impossible to get (740) with any clarity because of the wiring and the high-rise buildings,” he noted. It was a main point the company made during the hearing in May in Toronto.
“It is galling to hear the Commission posture as some kind of defender of diversity in the face of a decision which is doubly stunning, doubly insensible because it was discussed at the hearing that the younger generation, the 18-34 demo referenced in the decision, no longer listens to radio,” he added. “This Commission went out of its way to deny a life raft to a station that is the sole provider to a considerable audience.”
Znaimer insists it’s not sour grapes that is driving his ire because he would have accepted a decision which didn’t go his way if the license hadn’t gone to a rock station. “If they had brought forward a decision that favored an ethnic station, or if they had gone with the business news one, I would have been disappointed but I would have understood. But to hand it to another rock station, to a demo that’s already wildly over-served, just seems to be preposterous. The economy is not great and every story you read in the business press says it’s not going to get better any time soon so we came along and we said this is the goldilocks solution. We’re not really bringing in any new financial pressure on the market, we’re simply securing distribution to a large audience that’s got nowhere else to go,” said Znaimer.
“I can only conclude that it is a stunning case of age discrimination. There is no other word for it because they had the evidence… They turned their backs on themselves,” he added, alluding to the ages of the CRTC commission panel members. “They are all in the demo, every one of them.”
The CEO added his executive team will be meeting within the next week to decide whether or not to appeal the decision to federal cabinet."

WOW! And I thought the NCRA were crybabies. He even manged to pull the "ageist' card. And I didn't even know there was one in this deck. Remember when Znaimer brought you "MUCH MUSIC" and "The New Music"? Well now he wants you all to; "GET OFF MY LAWN YOU DAMN KIDS!"
Oh and by the way that threat to appeal to the Federal Cabinet? It's total bullshit. The Federal Cabinet is barred by law from interfering in the licensing process. Even CKLN had their lawyers explain that to them (probably very slowly) when they made the same empty threat. Given his years of experience you would have though he would have known about that already but never having people so no to you must get a little addictive. It's never a good sign when you are dumber than CKLN.


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