Canadian radio wants top 40 rule relaxed


TORONTO -- Canadian radio stations on Tuesday urged the country's broadcast regulator to ease its regulation of the AM top 40 hits radio market to stoke competition in the contemporary hit radio format.

The Canadian Association of Broadcasters, which represents major private radio stations here, asked the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission to scrap a 30-year-old rule that limits FM radio stations on the use of top 40 hits to drive listenership.

The regulation was initially designed to protect AM top 40 stations from competition with FM radio stations. But that CAB, in a submission to the CRTC ahead of upcoming hearings on private radio stations, said that the rule has become "irrelevant given increasing competition from less regulated and unregulated platforms, such as the Internet."

The broadcasters added that embattled AM radio stations also require relief from skyscrapers and other atmospheric interference common in bustling urban centers.

"Factors such as high-density structures and electric light rail systems increase interference that affects the quality of all AM signals in those markets," the broadcasters said.

Because current CRTC rules limit FM radio stations in their play of top 40 songs, the number of contemporary hit radio stations on the FM dial has remained small in major Canadian markets.

The CAB submission said that the relatively small number of AM stations operating in the top 40 format should enable the regulator to open the FM station market to greater competition.