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Forum intervenes in January 2020 Part 1 proceeding on private radio licence renewals

In January 2020 the Forum submitted interventions in the licence renewal applications submitted by Rogers and by Corus with respect to 34 private radio stations. The Forum’s main concerns are that the CRTC’s licence renewal application forms require too little information from applicants to determine how (or whether) their programming plans meet and advance Parliament’s broadcasting policy for Canada (being set out in section 3 of the 1991 Broadcasting Act. The Forum also noted that in the case of Corus, the minimum commitments for local programming being made by the applicant are substantially lower than the level of local programming that its radio stations currently offer.

The Forum asked each applicant for information offered in the applications about their employment levels.

Section 27(1) of the CRTC Rules of Practice and Procedure gives applicants the discretion to reply to interveners, but if a reply is made it must be made within 10 days after the intervention deadline.

Corus replied to the Forum’s intervention on Thursday 30 January 2020, and did not provide the requested information offered in its applications.

In the absence (at that time) of a reply from Rogers and as Corus did not address the Forum’s request for the employment information offered by each applicant, the Forum wrote the CRTC’s Secretary General on Monday 3 February 2020, to note that section 29(3) of the CRTC Rules states that applicants that do not provide copies of documents mentioned in their applications and requested by interveners, may not then rely on those documents:

A party that fails to produce a copy of the document within 10 days after the day on which the request is filed must not rely on the document.

Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission Rules of Practice and Procedure (SOR/2010-277), s. 29(3)

Rogers replied to the Forum’s intervention later on February 3, 2020; similar to Corus, it did not submit the information requested by the Forum. The Forum subsequently amended its letter to the Secretary General to reflect the fact that Rogers had replied to the Forum.

In replying to the Forum, both Corus and Rogers argued that they answered all the questions set out in the CRTC’s application forms. Neither applicant explained what prevented them from filing additional information (as permitted by section 22(g) of the CRTC Rules) to show how their radio programming undertakings meet the needs of the communities they were licensed to serve.