Pierre Trudeau’s nationalist vision for the broadcast and telecommunications sector needed a regulator to handle the details. The CRTC’s policies have since made it a target of scorn, sometimes by those it tried to help the most.
Bryan Adams: not Canadian In 1991, the Kingston-born rocker’s hit (Everything I Do) I Do It for You scored a failing 1 out of 4 on the CRTC’s CanCon scale, because it was co-written by a Brit and recorded outside of Canada.
More hits, more aggravation In the 1970s and ’80s, the CRTC’s “hits policy” aimed to protect AM licencees by limiting the number of hit songs an FM station could play to 50%. Standard Broadcasting exec Garry Slaight thought the policy was stupid and, in 1987, cranked up the hits at Toronto’s 99.9 FM to 70%. When the CRTC cried foul, Slaight humbled himself before the commission and walked away with a minor penalty: three days without paid advertising. Slaight billed it as a special “commercial-free” event. It was a hit.
What’s French for montage? Francophone stations are required to play 65% pop music en français. The problem? That’s almost twice as much as listeners want to hear, according to government surveys. Fortunately, the CRTC allows several uninterrupted English song snippets to be counted as a single selection. Last year, Montreal’s CKOI-FM and CKTF-FM in Gatineau pumped the use of montages to nearly 18% of all music played. That was too much for the CRTC, who responded by limiting montages to 10%.