Setting up a Campus / Community Station

Starting Up a New Campus or Community Radio Station

Frequently Asked Questions

Last Updated: Nov 11 2016

Why Campus or Community Radio?

The Campus and Community Radio sector plays a vital role in bringing marginalized voices to the airwaves, and highlighting Canadian artists in your locality. See the CRTC Policy Here

Mandate for community stations

15. Community radio guarantees local broadcasting service through community ownership, which means that community stations cannot be privately purchased by a for-profit organization. Community radio:
•permits and facilitates communication among members of the community by fostering diversity in the broadcasting of opinions, spoken word content and musical programming;
•participates in the stimulation of socio-economic endeavours and in the cultural enrichment of communities; and
• reflects the diversity of the communities served. Local programming is produced, in part, by volunteers.

Mandate for campus stations

16. The Commission emphasizes the importance of student involvement in campus community stations as well as the relationships that these stations should maintain with the post-secondary institutions with which they are associated.

17. Campus radio shares the entirety of the mandate of community radio. However, campus radio distinguishes itself as follows:
•local programming is produced in part by volunteers from the student body as well as the broader community;
•the board of directors includes campus representatives, including a balanced representation from the student body and representation from the administration of the post secondary institution, station volunteers and the community at large; and
•there is access to funding through student levies.

Is Campus or Community Radio the right fit for you?

What are the other options?

Type B Native Broadcast: This undertaking is characterized by its ownership, programming and target audience. It is owned and controlled by a non-profit organization whose structure provides for board membership by the native population of the region served. Its programming can be in any native Canadian language or in either or both of the two official languages, but should be specifically oriented to the native population and reflect the interests and needs specific to the native audience it is licensed to serve. It has a distinct role in fostering the development of Aboriginal cultures and, where possible, the preservation of ancestral languages. (Native Broadcasting Policy - Public Notice 1990-89 dated 20 September 1990)

Religious License: The licensee must broadcast programming consisting solely of religious services, with the exception of programs or program segments it produces for the purpose of ensuring balance on matters of public concern. Such programs or program segments must also adhere to guidelines (I) to (iv) contained in section III.B.2a) of Public Notice CRTC 1993-78. The licensee shall not broadcast advertising material.

Developmental License: If a developmental station licensee wishes to pursue its operations as a community or campus station after the end of its five-year developmental station licence term, it must apply for a new community or campus radio licence at least nine (9) months prior to the end of its licence term as a developmental station. Developmental station licensees will be required to cease operating at the end of their licence term.

Developmental community or campus radio licences will only be granted to stations having a transmitter power of 5 watts or less (AM) or an effective radiated power (ERP) of 5 watts or less (FM).

Except where the Commission has provided otherwise in a condition of licence, developmental station licensees must comply with the requirements set out in Regulator Policy 2010-499, as well as with the regulatory requirements outlined in the Radio Regulations, 1986 (the regulations), as amended from time to time.

Licensed developmental community or campus stations will be subject to fundamental requirements such as Canadian ownership as set out in the Direction to the CRTC (Ineligibility of non-Canadians, SOR/97-486 as amended by SOR/98-1268) and technical certification by the Department of Industry, and expected to conform to those portions of the community or campus radio policy governing the role of community or campus stations.

Ethnic Stations: Similar to commercial radio, following Ethnic Broadcasting Policy, Public Notice CRTC 1999-117, 16 July 1999 (Public Notice 1997-117) and Public Notice CRTC 2000-92, 30 June 2000, ethnic programming means programming provided in any language, that is specifically directed to any culturally or racially distinct group other than one that is Aboriginal Canadian or from France or the British Isles.  Ethnic programming may be in English, French, a third-language or a combination of languages.  Third-language programming means ethnic programming in languages other than French, English or those of Aboriginal Canadians.

Other types: There are also other station types including commercial (for profit) and informational.  The CRTC website has more information.

What about Francophone C/C Radio?

There are two Associations that are very similar and the NCRA works closely with. L'ARCQ which is an association of Francophone stations in Quebec, and ARC du Canada which are Francophone licensed stations outside of Quebec. 

Who are the NCRA?

(Mission Statement: Approved at NCRC 2003 in Winnipeg, Manitoba)

The National Campus and Community Radio Association / l’Association nationale des radios étudiantes et communautaires (NCRA/ANREC) is dedicated to advancing the role and increasing the effectiveness of campus and community radio in Canada. The NCRA/ANREC facilitates communication among Members and provides developmental materials and networking services. It also represents the interests of the sector to governments, industry, and other agencies, and promotes public awareness and appreciation for community-oriented radio in Canada.

Objectives of the NCRA

The objectives of the Corporation are as follows:

a. To hold a national conference at least once a year, set the annual program, and review past activities of the Corporation.

b. To co-ordinate and provide the necessary facilities for a national network of exchange of information and programming.

c. To support the practice of Canadian media arts, music and other relevant artistic disciplines.

d. To support public access to the airwaves, particularly for under-represented voices and alternative programming.

e. To collect, store, and make available a database of information about the history and operation of community radio in Canada and to make this information available to Members, interested organizations, and the general public, via printed or electronic means.

f. To offer consulting services for any group wishing to establish a new radio station under the government definition of "campus and community" radio.

g. To collect fees and Membership dues.

h. To acquire, rent or otherwise obtain property.

i. To raise or borrow funds in order to carry out the objectives of the Corporation.

j. To undertake any other activities consistent with the objectives of the Corporation which aim to expand and improve community radio in Canada.

k. To work with similar organizations and to represent Members in any and all international community radio oriented matters.

How do you become a member of the NCRA?

In order to become a Campus or Community radio station, and in order to become a member of the NCRA you will need to be a registered not for profit organization, either registered with your province, or at the federal level. The Canadian Revenue Agency does not issue charity status for Campus and Community Radio. Have you seen what the NCRA can do for you document? 

What does the CRTC say about Developmental License?

In Regulatory Policy 2010-499, the Commission announced that it would issue five-year licences for developmental campus or community radio stations.

If a developmental station licensee wishes to pursue its operations as a community or campus station after the end of its five-year developmental station licence term, it must apply for a new community or campus radio licence at least nine (9) months prior to the end of its licence term as a developmental station. Developmental station licensees will be required to cease operating at the end of their licence term.

Developmental community or campus radio licences will only be granted to stations having a transmitter power of 5 watts or less (AM) or an effective radiated power (ERP) of 5 watts or less (FM).

The exception to getting a developmental license may be in areas where there is little competition for frequency, and the group  is highly prepared with a more detailed application. Our Regulatory Director may be able to assist regarding the decision between applying for a Development License, or a full Community/Campus License.

A Technical Brief: Where do you put a transmitter?

It will be necessary for the application for a developmental license to also include a technical brief to be submitted to Industry Canada. Have you looked into this and prepared this documentation prior to filing for your application?

In order to complete the Technical Brief an engineer will be required to ensure that all of the necessary details are included. The NCRA, may be able to assist in locating a qualified engineer for this purpose. Do you need someone for your technical Brief? You can reach out to the Canadian Association of Broadcast Consultants

In order to be fully licensed as a radio station, you need a license for the content from the CRTC, and a license for the spectrum space from Industry Canada. For more information about their spectrum licensing See Here

You can get information on the Spectrum space available at Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada Here

Also, Here are the list of frequencis that are available, See Here

From there, you would look to apply for a CRTC License, specifically a C/C CRTC license.

Programming: Languages, hours, volunteers

Do you know how many hours you are broadcasting for? Are you aware of the regulatory requirements for that broadcast, for example, your Canadian Content, or the spoken word requirement? Do you include the broadcast of local and regional news and information; the broadcast and promotion of local cultural and artistic expression; the promotion of Canadian emerging talent with an emphasis on local musical and spoken word talent; and the broadcast of local and regional content related to social, economic and community issues?

How engaged are you with your community? Permits and facilitates communication among members of the community by fostering diversity in the broadcasting of opinions, spoken word content and musical programming; participates in the stimulation of socio-economic endeavours and in the cultural enrichment of communities; and reflects the diversity of the communities served. Local programming is produced, in part, by volunteers. The NCRA also has the Program Exchange which can help fill out Canadian programming requirements, but is unlikely to contribute towards the minimum spoken word requirement. 

We would like to also point you to a great resource out of the UK called the Community Radio ToolKit. It is very specific to the UK, however a number of the tools can be very useful : http://www.communityradiotoolkit.net/

Community Support

Do you have letters of support from your community? Organization who represent the diverse communities which you hope to provide programming for? Or if you are an internet, or online station do you have listeners who can speak to the need to having your station on FM? Do you have the support of your local council or other civil society organizations? The NCRA in some cases may also be able to write a letter of support for stations seeking a license. 

Good Governance & Board of Directors

Do you have a board of directors already in place? Does your board comply with the Canadian citizenship requirements? Do you work well as a team? Most new radio stations have an administrative board which does a lot of work themselves. Other boards are governance boards which focus on strategy and are less involved with the direct management of the station. 

Are you planning on hiring someone to run the station? Do you have policies, and procedures in place, and have you created a clear division of authority, and appeals process? The NCRA does have a Policy Exchange which may be a good starting point. 

What Timeline are you expecting?

The licensing process within the CRTC can take anywhere between 8 month to 18 months depending on if they open up a competitive process. This does not include the time it takes to gather the information required for the form submission. The timeline for creating a physical station and installing a tower etc, can be over several years. There is another consideration of applying to Industry Canada for a frequency and broadcast certification. Available frequencies are scarce in some major urban areas. Becoming a not-for Profit organization can take anywhere between 4 to 8 weeks. 

What technical components go into a radio station?

The TAC (Technical Advisory Committee) mind-mapped the technical requirements to run a station (this is a standard idea, some may be missing, others may be skipped based on individual station needs).  Check out the map here

What else can the NCRA do for you?

Here are just a few ideas from what we did at the NCRA in 2016.

We supported more than 25 individual stations with license applications, renewals, amendments and regulatory issues in 2016. 

We ran a fifth annual successful Annual Returns campaign with 100% compliance. 

We released a Copyright Handbook in relation to broadcasting and music.  

We successfully eased restrictions around CRTC and SOCAN member requirements.  

Presented at the CRTC hearings around community TV and local news, the Official Language Minority meetings at CRTC and Heritage Canada levels and submitted to the Canadian Content Consultations through Minister Joly.

Saved our members 1.9 per cent of their annual expenses by rolling SOCAN Tariff 22G into already paid broadcasting tariffs. 

We funded 50 member stations $75,000 to produce 1400 minutes of original programming about bilingualism in their communities through the "Rendez-vous de le Francophonie" program offered by our partner Fondation Dialogue & Canadian Heritage.

Helped stations successfully apply for over $500,000 in grants in 2016.

Created a partnership with F-Media for print advertising on campus.

Completed a 65 page detailed handbook on Copyright and Tariffs around broadcasting.

Completed a "voting" system to help stations conduct accessible AGMs. (AGMeeting)

Secured partnerships for stations to access iHeartRadio and RadioPlayer at no-cost ($30,000 start-up value and $5,000 annually per system saved).

Brought 35 people to attend NCRC, focusing on small, rural and underrepresented peoples (Happening again in 2017 to Abbotsford BC with more funding available). 

Some of the things we're working on for the coming year:

Developing a nation-wide online digital distribution system for new music right to the hands of station music coordinators/administrators and programmers to give access to thousands of new songs instantly.

Some past successes:

Saved stations thousands of dollars annually in copyright tariffs annually, particularly the recent Re:Sound decision and SOCAN negotiations.

Co-Founded the Community Radio Fund of Canada, which to date has distributed more than $10 million to NCRA member stations.

Created equity-based projects and resources like Resonating Reconciliation, Regulatory Handbook 2.0 and the disAbilities Handbook. 

For more information about setting up a Cooperative Radio station, please see the documents below. For information regarding setting up a station in general, refer to Chapter 4.

Get in touch with us!  info@ncra.ca for more or call us at the office! See the contact page.