/ #media #music 

Did you know: The government has a top 40 song quota for Ottawa radio stations

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Photo by Glen Gower

I’ve been talking to several local radio insiders about Ottawa’s commercial radio formats, playlists, etc.  One interesting regulation that I learned about is called the “hit/no hit” rule.  This is related to, but completely separate from the CANCON rules regulating the amount of Canadian content played on the airwaves.  Here’s a description from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), the government body that regulates radio broadcasting in Canada. (Emphasis is mine.)
In the Commission's 1975 policy "FM Radio in Canada - A Policy to Ensure a Varied and Comprehensive Radio Service"312 the concept of monitoring and regulating the ratio of hits to non-hits that are broadcast on each commercial FM radio station was introduced.
** The basic concept was to increase diversity on the air waves, and to encourage the air-play of new and emerging Canadian artists. ** The hits/non-hits policy applied to all FM stations that broadcast popular music. They were required to m ** aintain the level of hits below 50% of popular music selections broadcast during a broadcast week. ** The policy was enforced through incorporation of this commitment into a licensee's Promise of Performance, which became a condition of licence.
Over time the Commission has reduced, by stages, the application of this policy. In 1990 the CRTC exempted French-language stations from the hits policy. ** In 1997 the Commission reduced the impact of the rule for most commercial radio stations, but continued to apply it to English-language commercial radio stations in Montreal and Ottawa. ** ** This was done in an attempt to level the playing field between French-language and English-language broadcasters who were competing for listeners and advertisers in those bilingual markets. ** The concern was that if the French-language FM broadcasters in those two markets were also required to play 65% French-language vocal selections they would be at a competitive disadvantage with their English-language counterparts, if they were no longer restricted to a level of "hits" below 50%.

What qualifies as a hit?

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"Hits" include any song that's appeared on the mainstream Top 40 list in Canada or the U.S. at any time in the past few decades.

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There's a big exception: Canadian songs that are can-con eligible and have been a top 40 hit the last year can be played without counting against the "hit" quota.  (But if they're older than one year old, they count as a hit.)  This is to encourage more new Canadian content on the air.

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The quota applies between 6am-midnight.

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 Radio stations can program their 50% "non-hits" during overnight or evening hours when fewer people are listening.  As long as they don't go over 50% hit song limit during a seven day period.
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Any local radio / industry people who can add some context or insight to this rule?  Send me a note at feedback@ottawastart.com

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** ** See also: ** Ottawa Radio Guide

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