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Montreal Sports Station Obliged to Speak French

Ownership laws may force station to change its language of broadcast

Thanks to Canadian broadcast ownership restrictions, Montreal sports station TSN 990 CKGM(AM) will be compelled to switch from English to French programming.

The move is due to Bell Media purchasing Astral Media’s three Montreal radio stations — a deal that must be approved by Canada’s broadcast regulator, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.

To comply with the CRTC’s ownership rules — designed to prevent one broadcaster from dominating any given market — Bell has to either flip TSN 990’s language format to French, or sell the station outright. Since Bell doesn’t want to sell, TSN 990 will become RDS 990; a branding that is in line with Bell Media’s Réseau des Sports (RDS) TV network.

Bell Media’s purchase of Astral Media will be reviewed during a September CRTC hearing in Montreal. Theoretically, the CRTC can issue an exemption to Bell Media, to allow TSN 990 to remain English.

That’s a reprieve that Montreal’s English-speaking minority is lobbying for, along with local English language media such as the Montreal Gazette newspaper.

Local TSN 990 fans have also launched a protest page on Facebook.