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The History of Community Radio


by Michel Sénécal, Roger Fritz Rhéaume and Christian Lewis



N. B. Links in the chronology will take you to the relevant sections in the text.




The Pacifica Foundation in the United States inaugurates a number of FM radio stations, the first models of free radio on the American continent 


The National Film Board of Canada sets up the research group Groupe de recherches socials, which was to become Challenge for Change/Société Nouvelle



The Broadcasting Act is adopted and the Canadian Radio and Television Council (CRTC) is created



The federal Department of Communications (today called Canadian Heritage) and the  Quebec Ministère des Communications (today called the  Ministère de la Culture et des Communications) are created

The CRTC holds public hearings to develop a policy for broadcasting on the FM band



Pacifica stations are set up in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Houston (45,000 subscribers)

The community radio project that will become Radio Centre-Ville is launched



The Quebec government publishes its white paper on communications Vers une politique québécoise des communications



The Quebec communications ministry (MCQ) establishes a media development branch

An experimental, non-commercial licence is awarded to CKRL at Laval University in Quebec City



The MCQ sets up a program to support media development, the Programme d’aide au développement des médias (PADM), later the Programme d’aide aux médias communautaires (PAMEC)

The Secretary of State of Canada establishes the Native Communications Program.

Quebec publishes its communications policy: Le Québec maître d'oeuvre de la politique des communications sur son territoire

A non-commercial licence is awarded to Wired World (Kitchener, Ontario)

Radio Centre-Ville Saint-Louis requests a licence from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC)

First broadcast of CKRL experimental university radio in Quebec on February 15, 1973, Quebec’s first non-commercial radio station (a project developed over a two-year period by five students at Laval University)

First activities of English-language community radio in Canada: Wired World in 1973 and Vancouver Co-op Radio in 1974



A broadcasting licence is granted to Radio Centre-Ville Saint-Louis CINQ-FM  (Montreal) as a neighbourhood station within a large urban centre

A broadcasting licence is granted to CHUT-FM (Chicoutimi)

The CRTC grants a licence to Vancouver COOP Radio (first mention of the term community); the CRTC employs the same arguments in all three of the foregoing cases

The CRTC becomes the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.

The CRTC defines the notion of good will and rights (permission to mention the name of the announcer, the nature of the goods and services, but not to incite consumption)



Radio Centre-Ville Saint-Louis hits the airwaves on January 28, 1975

The CRTC adopts and publishes its FM policy recognizing community radio as complementary to the private sector and creating the category of special licence

Licence granted to CKUC, campus radio in Ottawa (student radio mandate is extended to the community)

A licence is granted to a campus radio station in Winnipeg



Radio Centre-Ville Saint-Louis is granted a new frequency on the FM band, 102.3



Start of the community radio project that is to become   CIBL (then called Radio Maisonneuve) as part of a research project on community radio at the Université du Québec à Montréal

Supreme Court of Canada decision on the cable network, which remains under federal jurisdiction



CIBL is incorporated as a non-profit organization 


CIBL is granted a broadcasting licence by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission

PAMEC, Quebec’s policy for the development of community media, focuses on community radio, whose numbers continue to grow significantly until 1985

The CRTC imposes a moratorium on FM stations

The Parti Québécois inaugurates its policy on the development of community media

The Quebec community broadcasters’ association is created, the Association des radiodiffuseurs communautaires du Québec (ARCQ)

A federal subsidy program for Native radio is established 


CIBL, community radio for Montreal East, begins broadcasting on April 26, 1980

The National Campus Radio Organization (NCRO) is founded

Despite increasing expenses for PAMEC in 1980, the economic recession and budget cuts cause the  MCQ to decide gradually to withdraw its financing of community media.



Beginning of the music program Le rock de A à Z , where the core of the famous comedy group Rock et Belles Oreilles is born



Collaboration between the Montreal International Jazz Festival and Radio Centre-Ville, which becomes  the voice of Jazz during the festival, from 1982 to 1984



The CRTC gives community and campus radio stations the right to broadcast informative publicity

Founding of the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters, AMARC



CIBL lodges a request with the CRTC for increased power

In 1985, 23 community stations, 19 student stations and some sixty Native stations are in operation.

The CRTC publishes its Policy on community radio; henceforward, community radio stations are classified as either “Type A” (first service) or “Type B”. All restrictions on the kind of advertising broadcast are removed

During the CRTC public hearings, the Quebec Department of Communications confirms its desire to see community radio become completely self-financing and its intention to stop subsidies



The CRTC grants  Radio Centre-Ville an increase in power (50 watts)

The Caplan-Sauvageau working group submits its report, which recommends recognition of community radio and television as a third sector in Canadian broadcasting, a sector that complements the private and the public

Quebec’s Treasury Board recommends abolishing subsidies to community media


The National Aboriginal Communications Society (NACS) is formed



A broadcast licence is granted to student radio CKUT, associated with McGill University

The CRTC refuses to grant CIBL an increase in power

PAMEC is replaced by PARC (Programme d’aide à la radio communautaire). The other community media (print, TV) will no longer be subsidized

The Secretary of State sets up a program of temporary assistance to community radio in official language communities in minority situations


Radio Péninsule, the first French-language community radio outside Quebec is launched in New Brunswick



CRTC policy on Balance in Programming on Community Access Media, following complaints about Vancouver COOP Radio



Mohamed Lotfi produces the show Les Souverains anonymes, broadcast on two Montreal community radio stations, giving a voice to inmates in Bordeaux jail

CIBL is granted a 225-watt increase in power

Review of Canada’s FM policy as it applies to the private sector and the announcement of a policy designed to examine campus and community radio

The new law on broadcasting in Canada is tabled



The CRTC grants Radio Centre-Ville a new increase in power (1,300 watts)

The Quebec government prize Prix des communautés culturelles is awarded to Radio Centre-Ville

A broadcast licence is granted to student radio CISM, associated with the Université de Montréal

Canadian Broadcasting Act; review of CRTC policy on campus and community radio; henceforward the Canadian broadcast system is made up of three distinct elements: public sector media, private sector media and community sector media

Announcement of an aid program in support of French-language and Native radio in Ontario

The Alliance des radios communautaires du Canada (ARCC) is founded



The CRTC asks campus radio  to take on a mandate similar to that of community radio

The program for assistance to community radio in official language communities in minority situations is not renewed



“Quinzaine de la radio” (special programming in support of CIBL)

PARC reverts to being PAMEC; media subsidies are restored (print and TV). The new support reflects a Quebec government focus on the regions



Announcement of the elimination of the program to assist community radio in Ontario



The CRTC refuses to give CIBL a new frequency, 95.1, and gives the frequency instead to Radio Canada’s  Première Chaîne

Quebec has 27 community radio stations, 10 campus stations and 50 aboriginal stations



Radio Centre-Ville’s Greek program wins the Média 1998 prize, awarded to media in the Diaspora by the Greek Ministry of the Press and the Media



The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) policy on community radio


N. B. : links within the chronology will take you to relevant sections

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Last update:, June 7, 2004
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