Just when it looked like there was no more room left on the FM dial, comes news that the Canadian Radio and Television Commission CRTC has asked for the public’s comments on a proposed low powered station in Scarborough. British Columbia based International Harvesters for Christ Evangelistic Association (IHCEA) has made the licence application and says it wants the new station to play Christian music.
Last year, Scarborough based Black radio station G-98.7 was ordered by the CRTC to find new owners because of mounting debts and a diminishing advertising and listenership base. The station was sold and continues to operate in Scarborough.
“The Commission finds that the Scarborough radio market cannot support an additional commercial radio station at present,” reads an announcement on the Canadian Radio and Television Commission’s website. “However, given that Christian music stations generally do not raise concerns pertaining to commercial impact, the Commission will publish the application by International Harvesters of Christ Evangelistic Association Inc. for a broadcasting licence to operate a new Specialty (Christian music) FM radio station to serve the Scarborough market.
IHCEA already operates 3 radio stations in the Maritimes. CITA-FM (Christ Is The Answer), is their low powered radio station in Moncton, New Brunswick and is the model that the broadcasters want to adapt for the Scarborough station if and when it gets permission from the Government commission to proceed. In December 2019 IHCEA was granted a licence to launch a Christian station in Kelowna and Kamloops, British Columbia. It does not appear that station has gone on air yet .
The CRTC has already received three notices from other Toronto broadcasters opposing the proposed start-up of IHCEA. Corus Entertainment ( CFMJ, CFNY-FM and CILQ-) warned the government agency that the owners “may use a licence to serve Scarborough as a means of obtaining a backdoor entry into the Toronto market.”
Bell Media, Rogers Media Inc. and Stingray Radio Inc. agree with Corus and have submitted their concerns to the CRTC. They also worry that a new station “could be a risk for technical interference” with other radio stations’ transmission signals.
Trafalgar Broadcasting Limited operates CJYE, a Christian radio station in Oakville. Trafalgar has opposed the licence proposal new Christian music station in Scarborough and expressed concern that any new Christian service would challenge their presence in the Toronto.
The CRTC is currently studying the year-old application by International Harvesters for Christ Evangelistic Association and reviewing the concerns of the established Toronto stations. If the CRTC feels the proposal still has merit, there will be in all likelihood a hearing and the public will have an opportunity to express both their concerns and their support for IHCEA.