August 29, 2014 – Ottawa-Gatineau – Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC)
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) today acted to ensure that, in the event of an emergency situation, Canadians receive timely warnings over the radio and through their televisions. The CRTC is requiring the broadcasting industry to participate and relay emergency alert messages to Canadians.
Cable and satellite companies, radio stations, over-the-air television stations and video-on-demand services must begin issuing such messages by March 31, 2015. Campus, community-based and Native broadcasters have until March 31, 2016 to comply with this new requirement.
Emergency alert messages are issued by emergency management officials such as fire marshals, police officers and public health personnel to warn the public of dangers to life and property. For example, alerts could be issued to warn Canadians of Amber Alerts, tornadoes, forest fires, floods, meteors, water contamination and industrial disasters.
Currently, participation in the National Public Alerting System is voluntary.
More information here
Last week I wrote a story called “Will playing edited songs work?” This was about the Calgary radio station CKMP better known as AMP Radio, who changed format on 1 August to play edited versions of songs. AMP was rating poorly (11th out of 17 stations) in the Calgary market that is already crowded with 2 other top 40 stations, so AMP needed a shot in the arm.
I originally wrote a story with the title “Why playing edited songs won’t work” and logically set a number of well thought out points as to why this was a bad idea. But before I got too far into the story I heard from Steve Jones the VP of Programming for Newcap. I put a number of questions to Steve and suggested to him that this was a clever publicity stunt. Steve assured me that it was not and that they were in this for the long term. So after talking to Steve, I decided to modify the story and give him and AMP radio the benefit of the doubt. I concluded that story by stating that “only time will tell if this is a short term tactic or a successful idea that grows in audience and then could be expanded to other stations.”
Well, the edited songs tactic lasted just 18 days in Calgary and AMP has now reverted back to the original Top 40 format, so perhaps this was a publicity stunt after all. But I am now hearing the reason Newcap dropped the format was because of the threat of some serious legal action by the music industry who were not at all amused about a radio station editing their artists’ work and playing shortened versions of songs. It also seems that the Vancouver company who came up with the idea and sold it to Newcap and some other stations in the USA may not have done their homework and did not have the required agreements in place.
However, as they say, there is no such thing as bad publicity, and I have to think that a few thousand people in Calgary and beyond would have tuned into this station to check it out. But did they stay and did they like what they heard? We may know the answer to the first question when the August PPM data for Calgary is released. It will be interesting to see if there was any bump in tuning, and how many of those listeners they managed to hang onto.
Calgary radio station CKMP better known as AMP Radio made some changes to their music going into August. AMP Radio ranks 11th out of the 17 stations, and are the lowest rated of the 3 Top 40 stations in the Calgary market based on the June PPM ratings, so something had to be done.
However, they did not change format, as you might expect. What they did was move to playing edited versions of Top 40 songs. The average song on AMP now runs somewhere from 1:45 to 2:30. The new format, which was unveiled Friday (1 August), is called QuickHitz and allows the station to broadcast professionally edited down versions of songs that have been provided by Vancouver-based SparkNet Communications.
The one thing Newcap does well, thanks to the brilliant marketing mind of their VP of Programming, Steve Jones, is to find ways to generate lots of publicity about a change like this. This story was covered by all the mainstream media including CBC, Global and CTV news. The story was also covered by many newspapers across Canada and in online publications and blogs. Not all of it was positive, and artists like Calgary’s Jann Arden have been very vocal about her disapproval.
I asked Steve Jones why they made the move to shorter songs and he told me “When you think about why songs are the length they are it goes back to the ’50s and ’60s when radio stations demanded three-minute songs and artists provided them. In order to be on a 45 RPM record with any sound quality your song had to be around three, three-and-a-half minutes. If you wanted to be on the radio or you wanted to be in a jukebox, which is how people heard their music back then, you had to be on a 45 RPM record. So that was the way it was done.” He goes on to say “Radio is using archaic logic to decide its programming.”
While this is a way to create a point of difference between one Top 40 station and the others in the market, I wondered if this was a clever publicity stunt, designed to get a station that is lagging in the ratings some much needed attention. Jones says it’s not and tells me that Newcap is eager to explore new ways to grow ratings. Here are some of the other things we discussed:
Full marks to a station and company that managed to generate some national publicity, and bring some attention to a station that was not doing well in the ratings. Only time will tell if this is a short term tactic or a successful idea that grows and audience and then could be expanded to other stations.