City to ask CRTC to make space on airwaves for CBC radio station

Hamilton city council has voted to reach out to the CRTC and ask the regulatory body to free up space on the dial in the city for a CBC radio station.

Hamilton city council is reaching out to the CRTC and asking the regulatory body to free up space on the dial in the city for a CBC radio station.

Coun. Brian McHattie brought forth a motion at city council Wednesday night to ask the CRTC to order Astral Media to give up one of its Toronto frequencies that can be heard in Hamilton so that the CBC could broadcast Hamilton-related content on that frequency. It passed unanimously.

Astral's Hamilton stations consist of 102.9 K-Lite, Oldies 1150 CKOC and Funny 820.

"CBC always said to us 'we'd love to come to Hamilton,' but there's simply technically no spots on the dial, which is a fact," McHattie said. "So here's our opportunity."

McHattie said he was once again inspired to push for a CBC radio station in Hamilton after hearing about the conditions for a possible merger between Astral and Bell. After being rejected last October, the broadcasters are trying to merge a second time.

Canada's Competition Bureau has cleared BCE Inc.'s $3.38-billion takeover of Astral Media earlier this month, but has attached conditions.

Under the deal, BCE's Bell division would have to sell a number of Astral's pay and specialty channels, including Teletoon, The Family Channel and Disney XD, as well as a number of radio stations.

Media company Corus Entertainment will purchase six of the TV stations and two radio stations for $400 million. The others will be sold in an auction process.

"It turns out there are two of those stations in Toronto," McHattie said. "They may be up for sale, and those frequencies hit Hamilton no problem at all, and they're FM spots on the dial — so that's a huge opportunity for us."

Chuck Thompson, the head of media relations for CBC English Services, said it's encouraging to hear that there's so much enthusiasm for CBC in Hamilton.

"We're thrilled to be in the community, but I'm not going to speculate on the motion or what may come of it," he said. "Our digital service is doing very well as we close in on our one year anniversary, and we look forward to serving Hamiltonians for many years to come."