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Canada’s Current Policies for Indigenous Broadcasting

Canada’s current broadcasting policy governing Indigenous radio and television services operating in areas where other broadcasters already operate was issued in the fall of 1990. The CRTC issued the policy without a public hearing, although it consulted with selected Indigenous organizations and individuals.

Indigenous radio stations operating in locations where no commercial radio stations were in operation were exempted from regulation in 1998.

Most recently, the CRTC modified the policy slightly in 2001, again without a public hearing, to eliminate the limits established in 1990 on advertising, and to raise the level of Canadian content required on Indigenous radio stations.


Native Broadcasting Policy, Public Notice CRTC 1990-89 (Ottawa, 20 September 1990)


Related Documents: “The 1980’s: A Decade of Diversity” (Report of the Committee on Extension of Service to Northern and Remote Communities, July 1980); “Northern Native Broadcasting” Public Notice CRTC 1985-274 dated 19 December 1985; “CRTC Action Committee on Northern Native Broadcasting” Public Notice CRTC 1986-75 dated 27 March 1986; “Review of Northern Native Broadcasting: Call for Comments” Public Notice CRTC 1989-53 dated 26 May 1989; and “Review of Native Broadcasting – A Proposed Policy” Public Notice CRTC 1990-12 dated 2 February 1990.


Following a series of public hearings in the fall of 1985, the Commission released Public Notice CRTC 1985-274 entitled “Northern Native Broadcasting”, in which it addressed a number of issues relating to the distribution of aboriginal radio and television services. This policy statement was based on the principles contained in the Report of the Committee on Extension of Service to Northern and Remote Communities (The Therrien Report) and, together, they have formed the foundation for Commission policy. In Public Notice CRTC 1989-53 entitled “Review of Northern Native Broadcasting: Call for Comments”, the Commission announced that it intended to update its regulatory approach to aboriginal broadcasting so as to reflect the evolving role of this important segment of the broadcasting system and to articulate and clarify the specific objectives related thereto.

Based on information gathered through that call for comments, the Commission released Public Notice CRTC 1990-12 dated 2 February 1990 and entitled “Review of Native Broadcasting – A Proposed Policy”. In that notice, the Commission set out its position with respect to what would constitute appropriate and workable definitions of a native undertaking, a native program and native music. It proposed classes of licence for aboriginal community radio stations, and provided a framework for advertising activity and Promises of Performance. It also addressed the development of native music and the resolution of conflicts between aboriginal and conventional broadcasters. Finally, the Commission indicated that it wished to move away from the “northern” focus present in the old policy, with a view to encouraging the continued development of native broadcasting in all regions of the country.

The deadline for public comment on the proposed policy was extended from 2 April 1990 to 1 June 1990 to allow native broadcasters sufficient time to adjust their submissions to reflect the consequential effects of the reductions in government funding to aboriginal broadcasters resulting from the February federal budget.

Regulatory Framework for Aboriginal Broadcasting

1. Role and Objectives

Although aboriginal broadcasting in Canada began in the 1960’s, its development remained slow until the federal government established the Northern Native Broadcast Access Program (NNBAP) in 1983.

Today, thirteen regional native communications societies funded by the NNBAP employ over 380 personnel and together produce an average of 315 hours per week of radio programming and 12 hours per week of television. In addition, dozens of community radio stations have been established to distribute the network programs of the regional societies while providing a complementary local service.

It is clear that the NNBAP funding program has become a significant factor in facilitating the provision of valuable broadcasting services to aboriginal audiences. These services have taken on a role akin to other publicly-mandated services, such as the CBC, in that they deliver a much-needed first level of service, often in aboriginal languages and unavailable from the private sector.

At the same time, by virtue of their dependence on public funding, native broadcasters are vulnerable to the effects of the government’s restraint program. The recent funding cuts resulted in the elimination of the Native Communications Program which supported community radio, trail radio and native press. Concurrently, the NNBAP budget was reduced by sixteen percent. The overall effect of these measures was to reduce substantially the operating budgets of the thirteen NNBAP societies, some by up to twenty-five percent. As a result, a number of aboriginal broadcasters see no alternative but to pursue advertising revenue and subsequently expand their commercial orientation.

In the Commission’s view, it is essential that aboriginal broadcasters receive sufficient funds to enable them to fulfill their responsibilities. Furthermore, native broadcasters should be mindful of the inherent pressures exerted on their programming and resources by the adoption of a commercial orientation.

The advent of satellite technology has had a dramatic effect on remote and isolated communities due to the wholesale importation of southern broadcasting services. Therefore, the primary role of aboriginal broadcasters is to address the specific cultural and linguistic needs of their audiences, while creating an environment in which aboriginal artists and musicians, writers and producers, can develop and flourish. In this way aboriginal broadcasters can provide an element of diversity to counter-balance and complement non-native programming sources. For its part, the Commission considers it essential that the regulatory framework within which aboriginal broadcasters operate remain flexible and adaptable to the varying circumstances of each region. Such a regulatory framework needs to be tailored to reflect the specific needs of native audiences, while remaining streamlined to minimize the regulatory burden.

The Commission recognizes that, subject to broad CRTC objectives and to statutory requirements, it is the aboriginal broadcasters themselves who are best qualified to determine and meet the needs of their audiences.

2. Definitions

In its proposed policy, the Commission set out tentative definitions of a native undertaking, a native program and native music.

A number of submissions suggested that the Commission clarify these definitions by providing one for the term “native”.

In its public announcements and decisions, the Commission uses the terms native and aboriginal interchangeably, with the knowledge that the native broadcasters themselves have differing preferences for these terms.

The Commission considers that a definition of “native” should coincide with the definition of “aboriginal” as contained in the Canadian Constitution; that is, “aboriginal peoples of Canada includes the Indian, Inuit and Métis peoples of Canada.”

2.1 Definition of Native Undertaking

Currently there is no specific type of licence for native broadcasters. In its proposed policy the Commission set out a definition of a native undertaking which provided for a concise reflection of the mandate of such an undertaking.

While most submissions supported the proposed definition, commercial broadcasters and the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB) recommended that it specifically address the preservation of aboriginal languages and cultures. The CAB proposed that the programming be “significantly distinct…having at least a minimum requirement of native language programming.”

The Commission considers that the definition of a native undertaking should be amended to include the maintenance and development of aboriginal cultures and, where possible, the preservation of ancestral languages, as essential aspects of the role to be performed by such stations. In this context, the Commission notes that in certain regions of the country, the use of native languages has all but disappeared among some segments of the population.

The revised definition of native undertaking is as follows:

Native undertaking: This undertaking is characterized by its ownership, programming and target audience. It is owned and controlled by a non-profit organization whose structure provides for board membership by the native population of the region served. Its programming can be in any native Canadian language or in eigher or both of the two official languages, but should be specifically oriented to the native population and reflect the interests and needs specific to the native audience it is licensed to serve. It has a distinct role in fostering the development of aboriginal cultures and, where possible, the preservation of ancestral languages.

The Commission intends to amend its licence application and renewal forms to include, as a new category, that of a native undertaking.

The Commission encourages the participation by aboriginal people in all aspects of the broadcasting system, including the commercial sector. The above definition reflects the current reality in which native broadcasting undertakings are confined, for the most part, to non-profit operations reflecting, to a large degree, the existence of government funding and the fact that most native broadcasters are situated in remote areas unable to sustain viable commercial undertakings. Where native Canadians wish to apply for licences to operate commercial undertakings, they will be required to meet the same obligations and expectations as other commercial broadcasters.

2.2 Definition of Native Program

In its proposed policy the Commission defined a native program as follows: Native Program: A program in any language directed specifically towards a distinct native audience, or a program about any aspect of the life, interests or culture of Canada’s native people.

This definition does not impose quotas with respect to the use of non-native language or music. Further, it recognizes that the broadcasting of native programs should not be restricted to native broadcasters, and that non-native individuals should not be prevented from making programs of interest to aboriginal people.

The CAB and individual representatives of the private radio sector expressed some concerns with the proposed definition. The CAB stated that, while it may no longer be reasonable to define a native program solely on the basis of language spoken or music played, it considers the definition too broad and suggested that it include the provision that each program be required to meet a single criterion, specifically that it serve as “a tool to enhance and preserve the culture of Canada’s native people”.

The Commission notes that this principle is already encompassed in the definition of native undertaking. Moreover, the Commission considers that it would be too onerous, and often inappropriate to apply it to each and every program. For example, it would be unreasonable to require or expect news programming aired by native radio stations to serve as a tool to preserve aboriginal culture.

The Commission has therefore decided to adopt, without change, the originally proposed definition of a native program set out in its proposed policy.

2.3 Definition of Native Music

The Commission had proposed to adapt the MAPL formula for the purpose of identifying those musical selections that would qualify as Canadian native music. The intended goal in identifying the quantity of Canadian native music broadcast by a licensee had been to monitor its efforts in the area of talent development and the subsequent increase in the recording and airplay of indigenous native music.

In its proposed policy the Commission noted the paucity of native musical recordings and stated that it was neither possible nor desirable to impose airplay quotas at this time.

The response of the aboriginal broadcasters to the proposed definition of native music was generally negative. They argued that a definition was unnecessary in the absence of airplay requirements. They also argued strongly that aboriginal music is not confined by political borders and that any definition would of necessity have to encompass all North American Indian music. The Inuit Broadcasting Corporation noted that, for its purposes, Inuit music is the music that emanates from the indigenous peoples of the entire Circumpolar region, including Alaska, Greenland and the USSR.

In light of these arguments, the Commission has decided not to put forward a precise definition of native music at this time. However, as noted below, the Commission is firmly of the view that aboriginal broadcasters must play an effective leading role in the development and airplay of native musical talent. This will be a major factor in assessing a licensee’s proposed Promise of Performance and at subsequent licence renewals.

The Commission commends the CBC for its efforts in native talent development and is pleased to note the Corporation’s intention to make its native recordings available to aboriginal broadcasters.

3. Types of Native Stations

The greatest concentration of activity in aboriginal broadcasting involves community-based radio stations in small remote locales. The Commission notes that there were in excess of 100 hundred native community radio stations in operation in 1988, and that more than two-thirds of these were receiving and rebroadcasting native-language radio programming produced by the regional NNBAP-funded networks.

Native television services have been slower to develop and, in all instances to date, the programs produced by the aboriginal television networks are distributed by either the CBC or TVOntario.

The Commission has proposed that aboriginal radio and television networks be required to complete the same application form as conventional networks.

For individual native radio stations, the Commission has established two types. Type A: A native radio station is a Type A station if, at the time the licence is issued or renewed, no other commercial AM or FM radio licence to operate a station in all or any part of the same market is in force.

Type B: A native radio station is a Type B station if, at the time the licence is issued or renewed, at least one other commercial AM or FM radio licence to operate a station in all or any part of the same market is in force.

Currently, all native radio stations make use of FM frequencies. Any new aboriginal undertakings wishing to use the AM band will assume the same mandate and operate under a regime similar to that of FM stations.

Licensees are reminded that they are subject to the requirements set out in the Radio Regulations, 1986, and the Television Regulations, 1987, including the provisions respecting logs and logger tapes.

In response to suggestions, the Commission may be willing to grant Type A status to small low-power native radio stations that, although within the contour of an adjacent urban commercial station, do not compete directly in that market. Such variances would be considered on a case-by-case basis. The proposed policy was silent on a regulatory framework for individual native television stations, since there is currently none in operation. If and when such native stations are licensed, they could be accorded the status of “remote station” as defined in the Television Regulations, 1987. This would allow for individual flexibility in the areas of Canadian programs, logs and records, and advertising material.

4. Promise of Performance

The Commission has proposed that all aboriginal radio and television networks and Type B native radio stations be required to file a Promise of Performance when applying for a new licence or licence renewal. By far the vast majority of aboriginal undertakings will be in the category of Type A native radio station, and will not be subject to this requirement.

The Commission also noted that aboriginal broadcasting is still in the developmental stage, and that unstable funding and high personnel turnover can create difficulties in maintaining full compliance with the Promises of Performance. The Commission therefore proposed that adherence to Promises of Performance not be imposed as a condition of licence at this time.

Although most submissions agreed with this approach, a few raised concerns that the Commission’s policies would be unenforceable if adherence to the Promise of Performance is not made a condition of licence. On the one hand, the Commission acknowledges that, in the absence of such a condition of licence, its policies, which are designed to meet the objectives of the Broadcasting Act, could be ignored by some broadcasters. On the other hand, it believes it has arrived at a realistic policy framework with the goodwill and cooperation of all parties involved, and does not wish to impose binding requirements unless they are warranted. Accordingly, the Commission has decided not to impose a condition of licence at this time requiring substantial compliance with the Promise of Performance. However, the usual conditions of licence will continue to be imposed with respect to advertising, a thirty percent Canadian musical content requirement for radio stations, and adherence to industry codes respecting sex-role stereotyping and advertising to children.

A number of submissions requested clarification regarding those situations where a Type B native station is the main originating feed of the network. Since two separate licences would be required, one each for the station and for the network, it is apparent that both Promises of Performance would be identical, unless a split feed were installed to allow different programming to be broadcast over each undertaking.

In describing the elements of the Promise of Performance, the Commission suggested that it should include the licensee’s proposed program schedule and programming policies, as well as its commitment to the development and airplay of native talent. It should also describe how the proposed programming reflects the needs and preferences of its target audience, and the specific measures taken to ensure that such programming fosters the enhancement of aboriginal languages and culture. Licensees will be required to specify their proposed hours of operation, language(s) in which programming will be broadcast, the time to be devoted to different program types and musical formats (for radio), policies on advertising, and commitments regarding the presentation, promotion and development of native talent.

The Commission intends to devise a specific Promise of Performance for aboriginal radio broadcasters, based on the above criteria.

5. Advertising

Initially, most of the NNBAP-funded communications societies did not envisage a need to pursue advertising revenue. Funding levels were frozen in 1987, however, and then substantially reduced in 1990; as a result, most aboriginal broadcasters are now of the view that they must be permitted to diversify their sources of funding if they are to maintain an acceptable level of service to their audiences.

Conversely, private broadcasters submitted that government-funded native radio stations should not be permitted to compete for the limited advertising revenues available in the markets they serve. The CAB suggested that requests by aboriginal broadcasters for authority to engage in advertising activity be examined on a case-by-case basis.

In its proposed policy, the Commission stated that:

there is no justification for the placing of commercial restrictions or distinctions on native broadcasters as such. The Commission concurs with the majority of submissions which favour treating native radio stations in the same manner as other community radio licensees. Therefore, the Commission is proposing that Type A native community radio stations be permitted to broadcast up to 250 minutes of advertising a day, up to a maximum of l,500 minutes per week, for stations broadcasting between 6:00 a.m. and midnight seven days a week, otherwise 20% of a station’s total broadcasting time. Type B native community radio stations will be permitted to broadcast an average of four minutes of advertising per hour per day, with a maximum of six minutes in any single hour. These advertising restrictions will be imposed as a condition of licence on each native community radio station. The Radio Regulations, 1986 do not impose commercial restrictions at the network level.

In the case of Type A native radio stations, the Commission has decided to remove all advertising restrictions due to the fact that there are no other commercial stations in these markets, and because the advertising potential is so limited that a maximum inventory of 250 minutes per day is well beyond the capacity of these markets to sustain.

Type B native radio stations will remain subject to the limitations outlined in the proposed policy, which permits an average of four minutes of advertising per hour per day, with a maximum of six minutes in any given hour.

The Commission has received an application from a Type B aboriginal radio station to affiliate with a private country music network service, and requesting authority to sell the commercial avails within that service. The Commission considers that such applications should be subject to public comment and considered on a case-by-case basis.

A number of submissions by aboriginal broadcasters raised the concern that the limitation of an average of four minutes per hour of advertising for Type B radio stations poses a serious restriction in that commercials are often translated from English or French for further broadcast in aboriginal languages or dialects. Thus, if a commercial is aired in English and three native languages, it must be counted four times. The broadcasters submitted that, in such circumstances, the allowable advertising quota would be rapidly consumed. They further argued that the translated versions may run fifty per cent longer than the original English version due to the grammatical structure of some aboriginal languages. The Commission agrees that, in this unique situation, the proposed advertising restrictions would impose unfair limitations on aboriginal radio broadcasters and could act as a deterrent to the broadcast of commercial messages in all the appropriate languages.

The Commission has thus decided that only the original versions of commercials in English, French or a native language should be counted for the purpose of meeting the average of four minutes per hour advertising restriction. Versions of commercials translated into aboriginal languages will not be counted.

Native television stations and networks will be required to adhere to the advertising restrictions set out in the Television Regulations, 1987, which allow for up to l2 minutes per hour of advertising.

At present, no native television broadcasters, and only a few native radio networks, operate their own distribution systems. For the most part, they have access agreements with either the CBC or TVOntario.

Over the past few years there have been discussions with the CBC to determine whether it would amend its access agreements with aboriginal broadcasters to allow them to engage in advertising activity.

The CBC has indicated that it is now prepared to agree to native television broadcasters’ use of the CBC’s distribution facilities to sell commercials in the native access programs, provided that the native broadcasters abide by the CBC’s commercial acceptance guidelines and that they secure the necessary indemnity insurance. The Corporation further indicated that it would be willing to assist aboriginal broadcasters in obtaining group rates for such insurance coverage.

With respect to radio, the CBC indicated that it was unwilling to change its policy of prohibiting advertising in the native access programming.

TVOntario distributes the radio and television programming of the Wawatay Native Communications Society of northern Ontario. TVOntario submitted that its current access agreements do not prohibit advertising, and that “the decision to advertise or not would be Wawatay’s. The authority to do so would lie between Wawatay and the Commission.” The Commission is pleased to note that TVOntario does not currently restrict advertising in the native access programs.

In Public Notice CRTC 1990-l2, the Commission mistakenly characterized TVOntario’s corporate underwriting activity as sponsorship revenue, and regrets this misinterpretation.

6. Conflicts with Private Broadcasters

Private radio stations in Whitehorse and Yellowknife have raised concerns that the native broadcasters in their communities have caused significant audience erosion because they broadcast mainstream country or rock music. They also submitted that native stations should not be permitted to compete for advertising revenue. Conversely, some submissions indicated that the onus should be on private broadcasters to substantiate any claim of financial harm caused by native broadcasters.

The Commission considers that limiting the advertising activity of Type B native radio stations to an average of four minutes per hour of commercials (in their original versions) provides adequate protection for the private commercial stations. Furthermore, the overall regulatory framework, including the requirement that native radio networks and Type B stations file Promises of Performance, further ensures that the programming of these undertakings is specifically oriented to the aboriginal population.

Any further complaints will be dealt with through the Commission’s normal complaints procedure, and through the intervention process at the time of licence renewal.

7. Distribution

Each of the thirteen regional networks funded by the NNBAP is mandated to serve a large geographic area, such as Arctic Quebec, the entire Yukon Territory, northern Ontario, and so on. Few of these regional services could exist without the benefit of satellite technology.

The CBC plays a primary role by providing access to its distribution facilities to aboriginal networks in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec and the Northwest Territories. TVOntario provides satellite distribution for the radio and television services of the Wawatay Native Communications Society in Ontario. Canadian Satellite Communications Inc. (Cancom) currently provides free audio subcarriers to native radio networks in the Yukon and MacKenzie Delta areas, and will provide two additional subcarriers pursuant to its latest licence renewal decision (Decision CRTC 90-92). In British Columbia, a number of private commercial stations have assisted in the distribution of aboriginal radio by providing free access time.

The Commission recognizes the significant contributions made by the various parties involved in providing native broadcasters with access to their distribution facilities over the past few years. In particular, the CBC’s involvement in promoting and assisting native broadcasters dates back to the Corporation’s earliest days in the Arctic, and to a large degree provided the impetus that sparked the imagination of aboriginal people to establish their own broadcasting services.

In its submission, the CBC suggested that it and other broadcasters involved in distributing aboriginal programming should continue to provide access time, and recommended that the Commission maintain its Access Committee to resolve conflicts respecting access and scheduling.

Finally, the Commission is pleased to note the Minister of Communications’ announcement on 9 May 1990 of the government’s commitment to the establishment of a dedicated northern satellite transponder, known as TVNC. This will alleviate the pressures currently imposed on the CBC’s overloaded Northern Television Service, and will fulfill a longstanding dream of aboriginal television broadcasters to control the distribution of their services.

8. Conclusion

This review of aboriginal broadcasting began in 1988 with the awarding of a research study to Greg Smith and Associates, and this was followed by two separate calls for comments. The Commission extends its appreciation to all those who contributed to this review, and is gratified by the constructive and cooperative spirit in which this policy was developed.


Exemption order respecting certain native radio undertakings, Public Notice CRTC 1998-62 (Ottawa, 9 July 1998)


1. In Public Notice CRTC 1998-4 dated 28 January 1998, and pursuant to section 9(4) of the Broadcasting Act (the Act), the Commission proposed to exempt from licensing requirements persons carrying on certain native radio undertakings. The Commission received submissions from four interested parties in response to its proposal: the Association for Indigenous Radio (AIR), a native broadcasting society; Television Northern Canada (TVNC), a native broadcaster; the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC); and one individual.

2. The Commission acknowledges the comments and suggestions contained in these submissions, and has taken these into account in developing various modifications to the exemption criteria proposed in its January 1998 public notice. These modifications are reflected in the Exemption Order Respecting Certain Native Radio Undertakings (the Order), which is attached as Appendix A to this notice.

3. This Order exempts native radio stations in remote areas from licensing and from most sections of the Radio Regulations, 1986 (the regulations). The Commission is satisfied that this exemption is the most efficient way to ensure that the broadcasting undertakings falling within the exempted class are able to devote the maximum amount of their limited resources to the provision of service, rather than to the fulfilment of administrative requirements.

4. At the same time, given the important role played by this sector within the Canadian broadcasting system, the Commission will wish to maintain a record of the number and location of native radio stations operating in Canada. It is satisfied that a simple registration process will enable it to do so. Accordingly, the Commission expects new native radio stations that meet the exemption criteria and wish to take advantage of the exemption order to fill in the registration form included as Appendix B to this notice and submit it to the Commission.

5. This registration is for information purposes only, and completion of the registration form does not constitute a Commission determination that the undertaking in question meets the exemption criteria. The registration process need only be completed once, when a new station in the exempted class begins operation. Native radio stations that have been licensed in the past need not register with the Commission.

6. In its submission, the CBC raised certain concerns about the proposed exemption order. These concerns relate primarily to the degree of recourse available to members of a community in situations where they believe an exempted station is not adequately fulfilling its mandate. The Commission acknowledges these concerns, but is confident that the criteria set out in the purpose and description sections of the final Order provide a clear outline of the mandate and function of these services. Members of a community who believe that their local station does not meet the criteria set out in the exemption order may bring their concerns to the Commission.

7. In Public Notice CRTC 1998-4, the Commission specifically asked for comments on whether persons operating exempted stations should be required to adhere to regulations relating to Canadian content and the retention of logger tapes.

8. TVNC, in its comment, noted that native radio stations “usually feature local, Canadian talent and have no desire to diminish the number of hours devoted to Canadian programming.” At the same time, however, it indicated that the limited resources available to these services make it “difficult to comply with the current requirements of providing broadcast logs and monitoring [Canadian content] levels.”

9. The Commission agrees with TVNC that native radio stations can continue to contribute to the Canadian broadcasting system without being required to adhere to specific regulations regarding Canadian content in music programming. The Commission further agrees that a simpler requirement would allow exempted stations, in TVNC’s words, to “comply without allocating valuable resources to the necessary paperwork which could be better utilized producing and broadcasting aboriginal programs.”

10. Accordingly, persons carrying on native radio undertakings that meet the exemption criteria are exempted from the Canadian and musical content requirements contained in section 2.2 of the regulations, as amended from time to time. The text of the purpose section of the Order has been changed from that contained in the Commission’s original proposal to note that “[t]hese undertakings…make the greatest practicable use of Canadian creative and other resources in the creation and presentation of programming.”

11. Both AIR and TVNC indicated that exempting native radio stations from the requirement to retain program logs and logger tapes would free significant amounts of financial and other resources that could be devoted to improving the service provided to communities. The Commission agrees that placing such a focus on improved service would be a productive use of the limited amount of resources available to these stations. Accordingly, stations that meet the exemption criteria are exempted from the logs and records requirements contained in section 8 of the regulations.

12. In their submissions, TVNC and the CBC commented on the broadcasting of religious programming by native radio stations. The Commission considers that it would not be appropriate to include within the scope of this Order undertakings that offer a service that is primarily religious in nature. Accordingly, the Commission has added a new criterion to the exemption order to address this concern. This criterion states: “The primary purpose of the undertaking is not to provide a religious programming service.” The Commission considers that this criterion will ensure that an exempted station is not used primarily as a vehicle to promote the views of one religious group or denomination in a community.

13. The Commission emphasizes that the Canadian content, logger tape, program log and balance in programming requirements remain important components of its regulatory and policy framework for the Canadian broadcasting system. The Commission’s decision to exempt certain native radio stations from those requirements is based on the fact that, although culturally important, these stations have limited resources, provide radio services in unique circumstances and, by definition, operate in areas where no commercial stations are operating.

14. The Commission notes that AIR, although generally supportive of the proposed exemption order, raised two concerns in its submission. AIR noted that “digital radio will be the radio mechanism of the future” and questioned whether exemption would reduce the entitlement of native radio stations to digital radio frequencies. AIR also commented on the definition of a “low power” radio station and the use of low power frequencies by native radio stations.

15. The Commission considers that the exemption of native radio undertakings should not be permitted to have any negative impact on their ability to make use of digital technology. It notes in this regard that all Type A native radio stations currently in operation have been included in the Department of Industry’s allotment plan for digital radio. Although broadcasting certificates from the Department of Industry will still be required for native radio broadcasting undertakings that are exempted from CRTC licensing, the Commission expects that future requests for certificates from exempted native radio stations will not be given lower priority for digital radio frequencies than those from licensed services. Nevertheless, all stations using unprotected low-power frequencies may continue to be treated differently from stations using protected frequencies.

16. With respect to AIR’s comments about the use of low power frequencies by native radio undertakings, the Commission notes that neither the definition of a native radio undertaking nor the exemption criteria includes any reference to the level of power used by such an undertaking. Thus, a station’s eligibility for exemption is not affected by this technical parameter. In the Commission’s view, any other issue or concern about the definition of low-power radio stations should be raised in the context of the Commission’s policy on low-power radio frequencies (as set out in Public Notice CRTC 1992-21 dated 21 March 1992).

17. The exemption order applies to native radio undertakings whose service contours do not enclose any area in which a commercial radio programming undertaking is licensed to operate. The Commission wishes to clarify that this restriction includes areas served by the retransmission facilities of commercial stations, as well as the service areas of terrestrial radiocommunication distribution undertakings that rebroadcast the programming of a commercial radio station. In other words, native radio undertakings are exempted only where there is no commercial radio station, no rebroadcaster of a commercial radio station, and no terrestrial radiocommunication distribution undertaking of a commercial radio station operating in all or any part of the area served by the native radio undertaking or its rebroadcasters.

18. The Commission notes that a station must meet the exemption criteria at all times. Thus, in situations where a commercial radio service, including that provided by a rebroadcaster or a terrestrial radiocommunication distribution undertaking, begins operating in all or any part of the area served by a previously-exempted native radio station, or where the previously-exempted station ceases to comply with any of the other exemption criteria, the native radio station will no longer fall within the scope of the Exemption Order and will thus be subject to licensing requirements and all applicable regulations under the Act.

19. Finally, the Commission notes that certain native radio undertakings that do not meet the strict definition of a Type A native radio station may have been given “Type A” status on a case-by-case basis in the past. Any such station that does not meet the exemption criteria set out in the exemption order attached to this notice will not, of course, be exempted and will continue to require a broadcasting licence from the Commission.

20. In addition to the modifications noted above, other minor changes are reflected in the final Order in the interests of increased clarity and precision.

Laura M. Talbot-Allan

Secretary General

This document is available in alternative format upon request.

Appendix A to Public Notice 1998-62


The Commission, by this order made pursuant to section 9(4) of the Broadcasting Act (the Act), exempts those persons carrying on radio programming undertakings of the class defined below from the requirements of Part II of the Act, with the exception of the requirements set out in sections 32 and 34. Such persons shall also be subject to the requirements of sections 3, 3.1, 4 and 5 (broadcasting content) of the Radio Regulations, 1986, with the necessary modifications

I. Purpose

The purpose of these radio programming undertakings is to provide radio programming that reflects the interests and needs of, and is specifically oriented to, the native communities they serve. These undertakings have a distinct role in fostering the development of aboriginal cultures and, where possible, the preservation of ancestral languages. These undertakings broadcast programming in any native Canadian language or in either or both of the two official languages, and make the greatest practicable use of Canadian creative and other resources in the creation and presentation of programming.

II. Description

1. The undertaking is owned and controlled by a not-for-profit organization whose structure provides for board membership by the native population of the region served.

2. The primary purpose of the undertaking is not to provide a religious programming service.

3. No commercial AM, FM or digital radio programming undertaking or terrestrial radiocommunication distribution undertaking that distributes the programming of a commercial radio undertaking is licensed to operate in all or in any part of the undertaking’s geographical area enclosed within: (a) in the case of a native AM station, the 5 millivolt-per-metre daytime official contour; or (b) in the case of a native FM station, the 500 microvolt-per-metre official contour. For greater clarity, the official contour includes the service contour marked for each transmitter on the map that pertains to that station and that is most recently published under the Department of Industry Act by the Minister of Industry.

4. The Commission would not be prohibited from licensing the undertaking by virtue of any Act of Parliament, of the Direction to the CRTC (Ineligibility of Non-Canadians), the Direction to the CRTC (Ineligibility to Hold Broadcasting Licences) or of any other direction to the Commission by the Governor in Council.

5. The undertaking’s programming complies with the guidelines on gender portrayal set out in the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ (CAB) Sex-Role Portrayal Code for Television and Radio Programming and the provisions of the CAB’s Broadcast Code for Advertising to Children as may be amended from time to time and approved by the Commission.

6. The undertaking meets all technical requirements of the Department of Industry and has acquired all authorizations or certificates prescribed by the Department.

Appendix B to Public Notice CRTC 1998-62

Registration for Exempted Native Radio Stations

New native radio stations that meet the exemption criteria set out in the Exemption Order Respecting Certain Native Radio Undertakings and that have never held a licence from the Commission should complete and submit this form. This form is also available on the Commission’s web site, at http://www.crtc.gc.ca .

Name of station or Call sign
Band O AM O FM
Transmitter power (watts)
Name of person or group responsible for the station
Mailing address of station
Name, address and/or email address of person who completed form (if different from above)

This registration form is for information purposes only. Completion of this form does not constitute a Commission determination that the undertaking identified herein meets the exemption criteria set out in the Commission’s Exemption Order Respecting Certain Native Radio Undertakings.

Please complete and submit to: CRTC, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0N2, FAX: (819) 994-0218.

Forms may also be submitted to one of the following CRTC Regional Offices:

Bank of Commerce Bldg.
1809 Barrington Street
Suite 1007
Halifax, Nova Scotia
B3J 3K8
FAX: (902) 426-2721

Place Montreal Trust
1800 McGill College Avenue
Suite 1920
Montreal, Quebec
H3A 3J6
FAX (514) 283-3689

275 Portage Ave.
Winnipeg, Manitoba
R3B 2B3
FAX: (204) 983-6317

530-580 Hornby St.
Vancouver, B.C.
V6C 3B6
FAX: (604) 666-8322


Changes to conditions of licence for certain native radio undertakings, Public Notice CRTC 2001-70 (Ottawa, 15 June 2001)


1. In Public Notice CRTC 2000-105 dated 17 July 2000, the Commission called for comments on proposals to amend certain conditions of licence for 20 native radio stations and three native radio networks whose current terms of licence expire in 2001. The proposals relate to Canadian content in music, advertising content, and programming acquired from other radio stations. All of the undertakings concerned also operate in markets where commercial radio stations operate. Decisions dealing with the renewal of each licence have been issued separately today (Decisions CRTC 2001-329 to 351).

2. To allow for the review of all comments received, the Commission administratively renewed all of the affected licences, from 1 September 2000 to 31 August 2001.

Canadian Content

3. In PN 2000-105, the Commission sought public input on a proposal to increase the required level of Canadian content in popular (Category 2) music, from 30% to 35%, for the affected native radio undertakings.

4. Most of the licensees stated that they would be willing to accept a condition of licence requiring the broadcast of a minimum of 35% Canadian content in popular music. Some stated that they already devoted a percentage higher than that to Canadian music.

5. The majority of public comments received on this matter supported an increase in Canadian content for native radio stations. Commercial radio licences argued that non-exempt native radio stations could and should be expected to meet the same Canadian content requirements as other broadcasters. Following recent policy reviews, the Commission increased from 30% to 35% the minimum percentage of all popular music that commercial, community and campus radio stations are required to devote to Canadian selections.

6. After reviewing all comments and input, the Commission is satisfied that a 35% level of Canadian content in Category 2 music is feasible for non-exempt native radio stations. A condition of licence will be applied to the licences of each of the affected undertakings, requiring that a minimum of 35% of the musical selections from content category 2 during each broadcast week be devoted to Canadian selections.

7. “Canadian selection” and “broadcast week” are defined in the Radio Regulations 1986.


8. Currently, non-exempt native radio undertakings may broadcast no more than an average of 4 minutes of advertising per hour, with no more than 6 minutes of such material in any given hour. As part of this process, the Commission also sought comment on whether the current restriction of advertising on such undertakings was still appropriate.

9. Some native licensees stated that the current restrictions are not problematic, since they either do not broadcast advertising at all, or they are not able to sell enough advertising to fill the time currently allowed.

10. Other licensees disagreed, and were of the opinion that the restrictions should be lifted. These native licensees argued that, given diminishing resources for funding, advertising is of utmost importance, representing their best hope for growth. These licensees were of the opinion that the ability to access more revenues from advertising would allow for greater self-sufficiency and less reliance upon financial support from governments and band councils.

11. The Commission notes that the broadcast of advertising material is no longer limited for commercial and community radio licensees, and the removal of such restrictions on native licensees would put them on the same footing as most other Canadian radio broadcasters. The Commission has, therefore, decided not to impose conditions of licence limiting the level of advertising material broadcast on native radio stations.

Non Station-Originated Programming

12. The public notice also asked parties to comment on the appropriateness of “wrap-around” programming. This term describes blocks of programming that originate from other radio stations. The source is often a distant commercial station, and the practice eliminates the need for the native station to sign off at the end of limited daily programming.

13. Many native radio stations broadcast only station-produced programming. For the most part, the ones that broadcast non station-originated programming do so in very limited amounts. A small number of native radio stations do, however, carry large amounts of wrap-around programming, especially in the evening hours. For example, some native licensees complete their local programming at 6:00 p.m. and then rebroadcast a popular urban commercial station until local broadcasting resumes the following day.

14. This practice can have a negative impact on a commercial broadcaster operating in the same market as the native licensee, especially if the wrap-around programming is in the same format as that used by the commercial station.

15. The Commission sought comments from interested parties on what remedies might be appropriate in cases where wrap-around programming has a negative impact on other broadcasters in their market.

16. The Commission received four submissions that discussed wrap-around programming. None of the submissions entirely opposed its use, although CJCD Radio Ltd., licensee of CJCD, a commercial radio station in Yellowknife, suggested that the broadcast of wrap-around programming be permitted only under specific conditions.

17. The Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB) was of the view that wrap-around programming can have an impact and is particularly harmful in areas where there is more than one commercial radio station in the market. The CAB recommended that native radio undertakings wishing to carry wrap-around programming should be required to use programs that originate either from another native radio station or an aboriginal network located in the same province or region.

18. The Commission is of the opinion that the scenario suggested above would be compatible with the definition of a native undertaking as outlined in the Native Broadcasting Policy. That policy stipulates that the programming available on a native undertaking “should be specifically oriented to the native population and reflect the interests and needs specific to the native audience it is licensed to serve”.

19. The Commission is aware that the acquisition of wrap-around programming from native radio stations may not always be possible or practical, given the small number of such undertakings across Canada that broadcast around the clock. At the same time, the Commission notes that it has recently issued a licence for a new, national native radio network to be known as Aboriginal Voices Radio Network (AVRN) (Decision CRTC 2001-39). While AVRN is not yet in operation, it proposes to offer programming on its native radio network 24 hours per day. AVRN will be available to all regions across the country. The Commission considers that wrap-around programming acquired from AVRN would better meet the intent of the Native Broadcasting Policy than would non-native programming.

20. For the reasons set out above, at the time of licence renewal, native stations wishing to carry wrap-around programming will be either encouraged or required to use programming from another native station or network. The approach taken may depend upon whether complaints or interventions related to wrap-around programming are received.

Native Licences That Do Not Expire in 2001

21. This new approach applies at this time only to the native radio undertakings renewed in Decisions CRTC 2001-329 to 2001-351. There remain several native radio licensees whose licences do not expire in 2001 and are therefore not immediately affected by these changes.

22. Any native radio undertaking not affected by these changes may apply to the Commission at any time, for authority to amend conditions of licence, consistent with the changes discussed above. In general, the Commission will be inclined to amend both the Canadian music and advertising conditions at the same time for each station.

Conditions of Licence Regarding Gender Portrayal and Advertising to Children

23. The Commission reminds the licensees that any radio undertaking that broadcasts 42 or more hours of local programming during a broadcast week is subject to the following conditions of licence:

It is a condition of licence that the licensee adhere to the guidelines on gender portrayal set out in the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ (CAB) Sex-role portrayal code for television and radio programming, as amended from time to time and approved by the Commission.

It is a condition of licence that the licensee adhere to the provisions of the CAB’s Broadcast code for advertising to children, as amended from time to time and approved by the Commission.

Related CRTC Documents

. Public Notice 2000-14 – Revised content categories and subcategories for radio

. Public Notice 1990-89 – Native broadcasting policy

Secretary General

This document is available in alternate format upon request and may also be examined at the following Internet site: http://www.crtc.gc.ca