While younger Canadians are increasingly adopting alternative listening methods, Canada’s commercial radio industry remains healthy, says a senior official with the federal broadcast regulator.
In a speech before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage last week, Scott Hutton, the CRTC’s executive director of broadcasting, said preliminary results indicate that Canada’s commercial radio industry “maintained the course” in 2013, with revenues of $1.6 billion and pre-tax profits of $331 million.
That was essentially unchanged from 2012, when the sector recorded revenues of $1.62 billion and profits of $323 million.
The fact that the federal regulator has issued almost 50 new licenses in the past two years is additional evidence of the sector’s continued vitality, said Hutton.
There are some obstacles to overcome for radio, however. Hutton cited the CRTC’s “Communications Monitoring Report 2013,” which indicated that Canadians are consuming audio across multiple platforms:
• 20% stream an AM or FM station over the internet
• 14% stream audio on a tablet
• 13% stream a personalized internet music service
• 8% stream via a smartphone
While noting that younger Canadians have been adopting these platforms in growing numbers, Hutton said that radio remains an attractive medium “for many.”
He cited a 2013 Nielsen report that found 61% of Canadians tune in to radio stations to discover music new to them, and that almost half of all music they encounter comes via radio, eclipsing all other sources, including YouTube, the iTunes store and social media.
While indicating that radio’s relatively stable situation does not warrant a comprehensive policy review, Hutton said the CRTC believes the sector would benefit from an update of certain regulatory and policy elements.
The CRTC issued a call for comments on a targeted policy review for the commercial radio sector last October, with the first phase coming to a conclusion in January. The second phase is currently underway, although Hutton said it is too early to provide updates since the record is still open.
“We are sensitive to the issues facing both the radio and music industry in this fast-changing environment,” said Hutton. “We continue to work in conjunction with the radio sector and government to further strengthen Canada’s music industry.”