CRTC approves Alberta independent’s application for Cranbrook FM station

These are bright days for independent Alberta broadcaster Clear Sky Radio, which received CRTC approval this week to launch a new commercial FM station in Cranbrook, B.C.

The new adult contemporary station, which will be called Summit 107, will broadcast at 107.5 FM in Cranbrook, with repeater frequencies in Fernie, Sparwood and Invermere. It will be Clear Sky’s third commercial FM station.

Clear Sky president Paul Larsen said the new station could launch as early as September. It will cover the majority of B.C.’s East Kootenay region, which has a population of approximately 60,000.

Summit 107 will target audiences 18-54, with a core audience of women 30-49. It will play a range of adult pop music from the late 1970s to present.

The CRTC denied a competing bid for a modern adult contemporary station by Newcap, saying that its decision to award just one new station was consistent with its stated intention to avoid over-licensing in markets with populations under 250,000 due to the “relatively lower” profitability of stations in those markets.

Larsen also said the decision was consistent with a more consumer-friendly CRTC that has emerged under the leadership of chairman Jean-Pierre Blais. “It’s gratifying that the CRTC still sees small regional players as part of the landscape,” he said. “There’s definitely more of an open attitude in terms of the industry, and I also think there’s a stronger focus on consumers.”

Established in 2006, Clear Sky owns two other stations: CJOC 94.1 FM in its home base of Lethbridge and CJCY 102.1 FM in Medicine Hat. The stations compete against Rogers and the Jim Pattison Broadcast Group, respectively.

The company currently has another application before the CRTC for an FM station in Strathmore, AB, and is also awaiting approval of its April purchase of the Lethbridge-based Christian rock station CKVN-FM from Golden West Broadcasting.

The purchase is conditional on the CRTC granting Clear Sky relief from CKVN’s current license conditions, paving the way for Clear Sky to convert it to a modern rock station.

Cranbrook currently boasts only two English-language commercial stations, CHBZ-FM (country) and CHDR-FM (active rock), both of which are owned by the Jim Pattison Broadcast Group.

In announcing its decision, the CRTC said recent Numeris Canada tuning suggests a “considerable amount” of tuning in the region is to other platforms, such as satellite (Larsen pegged satellite tuning as high as 25%) and out-of-market stations.

In its decision, the CRTC said there is no market saturation that would preclude it from granting a new license, and suggested the new station could potentially repatriate listeners.

The federal regulator said that while advertising revenue growth in the market has been “relatively modest,” the addition of a competing station would likely stimulate growth, mitigating any impact on the incumbent stations.

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