Hank FM Shot Down in Attempt to Amend Broadcast Licence

It’s not a surprise Winnipeg country radio station Hank FM was dead last again in the latest spring ratings. Although, to their credit, they’re trying to compete and make something of themselves. That is, at least according to a recent renewal application the station filed with the CRTC to amend its licence. To sum it up — they want to become a big boy radio station.

The broadcast regulator ruled on May 28, 2010 against the proposed changes NewCap Radio set forth for CHNK-FM (Hank’s legal call letters). The station wanted to delete certain requirements under its category 2 (popular music) licence, such as having to play music composed before 1956 and having to devote a weekly average of 2% or more of its musical selections from category 2 to those periods to Canadian selections broadcast in their entirety.

If the amendments were approved, NewCap said it would permit Hank “to compete more effectively with other commercial radio stations in the Winnipeg market and make future enhancements to the quality of its programming service and would provide stability to both CHNK-FM and its ethnic station CJKS Winnipeg.”

The changes weren’t without opposition. In the filing, CJSB-FM in Swan River and Hot 103 and QX104 in Winnipeg expressed concerns about the application. Astral Media — who owns both Hot and QX — said NewCap’s request would mean Hank would enter in direct competition with other existing mainstream commercial radio stations in the market. It submitted that the amendments requested by NewCap were not appropriate for the following reasons:

  • The Winnipeg market cannot sustain another mainstream commercial radio station at this time;
  • NewCap’s request is contrary to the Commission’s rationale for the station’s licensing in 2002, namely to increase the diversity of radio programming in the market without creating direct competition with existing commercial stations; and
  • The introduction of additional direct competition with mainstream commercial stations would be inconsistent with the recent analysis of the Winnipeg market following the licensing of new radio stations in the market in August 2008.

If that wasn’t enough to discourage Hank FM, the filing also pointed out numerous non-compliance violations, such as missing programming on logger tapes from July 17-23, 2007, and an apparent category 2 violation with its musical selection during that same week. The CRTC are pretty sticky when it comes to details like that.

Based on those violations and the interventions from other media, the application was denied. In its defence, Hank pointed out several shortcomings with its station to perhaps score sympathy points. The application noted when the station was purchased, the equipment and signal were very poor, requirements for CTD (Canadian talent development) had not been met, and the station was essentially operated by volunteers whose quality of programming was poor. Don’t expect any ’employee of the month’ awards over there.

Hank’s licence was renewed until August 31, 2013 — which is considered to be very short-term in the radio industry. During that time, the CRTC will be monitoring the station closely for any slip-ups.

You may have also noticed Hank FM did not renew its lease recently in the Portage Place Skywalk. We’re told most of the on-air programming is now being voice-tracked out of the station’s small office on Corydon Avenue.