CRTC loosens ad restrictions on CBC radio services

The CRTC has approved a request by the CBC to amend the conditions of license for its Radio 2 and Espace Musique services, giving it greater leeway on advertising elements such as sponsor announcements. Last year, the federal regulator approved the CBC’s request to include advertising on the two services on a limited basis for […]

The CRTC has approved a request by the CBC to amend the conditions of license for its Radio 2 and Espace Musique services, giving it greater leeway on advertising elements such as sponsor announcements.

Last year, the federal regulator approved the CBC’s request to include advertising on the two services on a limited basis for three years, saying it was confident it would not disrupt programming and compromise the services’ “distinct nature.” The condition of license specified that programming could not be interrupted more than twice during any clock hour for paid national advertising.

In its latest application, the CBC proposed to count any advertising accompanying an information break, such as news or weather, as a single interruption for the purpose of compliance with the limit of two interruptions for advertising per hour.

In its application, the public broadcaster provided focus group research indicating that listeners already regarded these breaks, without advertising, as interruptions to the flow of its music programming, and argued that placing several advertising elements within the existing information breaks—separate from the music flow—would be the least annoying way of presenting national advertising.

“In light of the above,” said the ruling, “the Commission is satisfied with the CBC’s plan for the placement of commercial announcements.”

The CBC also successfully argued that the mention of sponsor names or the airing of promotions with sponsor mentions during music programs not be counted as an interruption of its programming.

While the Fédération nationale des communications and the Syndicat des communications de Radio-Canada (FNC/SCRC) expressed concern in a joint intervention that amendments would open the door for the CBC to broadcast more than the four minutes of advertising per hour originally permitted by the CRTC, the regulator said the changes would not impact the limit.

“Every advertising element—commercial announcements, sponsor IDs and promotions with sponsor mentions—would be counted toward the four-minute limit, regardless of its placement within the programming of the two services,” said the CRTC.

While noting that the CBC is aware of opposition to advertising on the two services—formally expressed by “hundreds” of listeners—the Commission said it expects the broadcaster to implement its plans carefully “and limit the intrusiveness of its sponsor IDs and promotion with sponsor mentions.”

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