Volume 92, Issue 1

Friday, May 15, 1998

empty pockets


Quality vs. culture

By Clare Elias
Gazette Staff

The Tragically Hip, Our Lady Peace and Sarah McLachlan are just a few of the musicians who will be enjoying an increased amount of radio play on Canadian stations due to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunication Commission's recent policy changes. Radio broadcasters have received new rules from the CRTC regarding ownership and Canadian content regulations.

The new policy will allow broadcasters to own two AM and two FM radio stations per market. It also demands better distribution of Canadian selections and higher levels of Canadian music. The CRTC's policy will increase exposure of Canadian musicians while stimulating the Canadian music scene and increasing the success of Canuck music both within the country and abroad.

"Artists and lyricists are very happy with the policy," says Anne Plouffe, manager of communications at the CRTC in Toronto. "The decision did not come out of a vacuum, but was thoroughly researched for over a year."

The winners are indeed the members of the Canadian music industry, who will benefit from a five per cent increase in Canadian content. However, skepticism is surfacing on the broadcaster's side of the equation. "It's a disappointing turn in the industry," says Rick Moss, general manager for London stations CFPL, FM 96 and 103.1 The Hawk.

Moss believes the CRTC's call for a five per cent increase is poorly researched. "It's almost impossible to fill this demand, especially for the 'oldies' radio stations, since there's a limited pre-'90s selection of good Canadian music," he said.

Moss argues for the importance of exposing Canadian talent, "but when does quality begin to suffer because of quantity?" he questions.

Tom Everett, program director of Western's own CHRW, agrees. "The nationality of a song should not be an issue. If it's good, play it."

The Western radio station allots 40 per cent of broadcast time to Canadian music and gives voice to local London bands. While Everett believes in increasing the diversity of Canadian music he thinks that the CRTC has failed to recognize the increase will force broadcasters to play mediocre bands for the simple reason they are Canadian.

The policy's implementation will not come into effect until late fall or early 1999.

To Contact The Arts and Entertainment Department: gazette.entertainment@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998