CFWE-FM, Aboriginal, Lac La Biche

Aboriginal Multi-Media Society

CFWE-FM198689.9n/aAboriginal Multi-Media Society


On August 12, The Aboriginal Radio and Television Society was granted a licence for a Native and English language FM station at Lac La Biche, operating on 89.9 MHz with an effective radiated power of 10 watts.

CFWE-FM went on the air. It was the only local radio service in the region and operated a community radio training program in conjunction with Employment and Immigration Canada.


On March 31, the Aboriginal Multi-Media Society of Alberta was given approval to acquire the Cree and English language television network and CFWE-FM Lac La Biche, operated by the Aboriginal Radio and Television Society. The Aboriginal Multi-Media Society of Alberta and the Aboriginal Radio and Television Society had the same membership and this transaction ensured continuation of these services by the same group of individuals.

It should be noted that the Society received a licence on August 7, 1986 for the television network which by this time was producing three hours of programming a day, Monday to Friday, from studios in Edmonton and in Lac La Biche. The programming was transmitted to 26 rebroadcasting stations of the CBC’s CBXT-TV throughout the province of Alberta. 


On September 18, CFWE was given approval to operate FM transmitters at Cadotte Lake, Cold Lake First Nations, Conklin, Elizabeth Metis Settlement, Fort Chipewyan, Fox Lake, Frog Lake, John D’Or Prairie, Little Buffalo and Loon Lake, Alberta. All of the transmitters would operate on 89.9 MHz with an effective radiated power of 10 watts, and would rebroadcast the programs of CFWE-FM, received via satellite.


When CFWE had its licence renewed on June 29, the CRTC noted the station was broadcasting 126 hours of local programming per week. 96 of those hours were locally produced. The remaining 30 hours was received from CKNM-FM Yellowknife. CFWE-FM was broadcasting in English, Cree, Chipewyan, Dogrib and Slavey.


On February 10, CFWE-FM was authorized to add transmitters at Boyer River, Bushe River, Chard, Child Lake, Desmarais, Driftpile, Fort McKay, Goodfish Lake, Kinuso, Meander River, North Tallcree, Peavine, South Tallcree, Paddle Prairie, Saddle Lake, Sturgeon Lake, Sucker Creek and Slave Lake, Alberta. The transmitters would operate on the frequency 89.9 MHz (88.7 MHz at Slave Lake), with an effective radiated power of 10 watts.


On February 25, CFWE was authorized to delete the Meander River transmitter. A licence had been granted to the Tache Gondihe Society to operate a transmitter at that location (December 3, 1993). The transmitter would continue to broadcast the programs of CFWE as well as locally produced programming.

On the same date, CFWE-FM was given approval to add transmitters at Anzac, Brownvale, Beaver Lake, Chipewyan Lake, Caslan, Fox Lake, Fishing Lake, Fort Vermilion, Grouard, Gift Lake, Horse Lake/Hythe, Heart Lake, Kehiwin, Kikino, Peerless Lake, Sandy Lake, Trout Lake, Whitefish Lake/Atikameg, Alberta. The transmitters would operate on 89.9 MHz with an effective radiated power of 10 watts.

On September 29, CFWE-FM was authorized to add the following transmitters to its licence: VF2084 Cadotte Lake, VF2085 Conklin, VF2086 Elizabeth Metis Settlement, VF2087 Fort Chipewyan, VF2089 Frog Lake, VF2090 John D’Or Prairie, VF2091 Little Buffalo, VF2092 Loon Lake, and VF2094 Cold Lake First Nations/Premières nations de Cold Lake.


By this time, CFWE was broadcasting frpm studios in Edmonton and Lac La Biche via a network of 48 FM transmitters, serving over 55 communities throughout the province of Alberta. Programming was distributed to thes communities via the ANIK F1 satellite. With the co-operation of other Aboriginal broadcasting societies in British Columbia, the Yukon and the Northwest Territories, CFWE was broadcasting to some 200 communities located across Canada.


CFWE-FM-4 (98.5) Spruce Grove signed on the air.

On October 17, the CRTC approved the application by Aboriginal Multi-Media Society of Alberta for a broadcasting licence to operate a new English and Aboriginal-language Native Type B FM radio station to serve Edmonton, along with 36 transmitters to serve communities across Alberta. AMMSA operated CFWE-FM, a radio station with studio facilities in Edmonton, which distributed its signal via satellite to a network of 35 FM transmitters serving isolated or underserved Aboriginal communities in Alberta. At this time, none of its transmitters served Edmonton. CFWE-FM’s programming was specifically oriented to the Native communities it served and reflected their culture and interests. In the present configuration, CFWE-FM and its transmitters met the exemption criteria set out in Public Notice 1998-62 and were exempted from licensing and most sections of the Radio Regulations, 1986. In its application, AMMSA indicated that it wished to implement an originating station in Edmonton, add a new transmitter in Fort McMurray and continue operating the existing 35 transmitters. The Commission noted that, under AMMSA’s proposal, CFWE-FM and its FM transmitters would no longer meet the exemption criteria. Further, given the incumbent commercial radio stations in Edmonton and Fort McMurray, AMMSA would need to obtain a broadcasting licence to operate a Type B Native radio station to carry out its proposal. AMMSA affirmed that it has no plans to change the focus of its programming. It committed to continue serving the needs of Aboriginal peoples in small communities throughout Alberta and indicated that it was seeking to attract Aboriginal people who had moved to the urban centres of Edmonton and Fort McMurray. Under the Native Broadcasting Policy, Native undertakings were defined by their ownership which, through their not-for-profit status, allowed for membership on the board by the Aboriginal population of the region served. The Commission was satisfied that AMMSA was a not-for-profit corporation, which provided for board membership by the Aboriginal population of the region served by the proposed undertaking. The Native Broadcasting Policy specified that the orientation of Native undertakings should be toward an Aboriginal culture reflecting their needs and interests. AMMSA’s proposed Native Type B FM station would operate in a country music format that would appeal to Aboriginal people both in urban areas and in smaller communities. In each broadcast week, the proposed station would offer 116 hours of local programming and 23 hours of spoken word programming. The applicant committed that, in each broadcast week, at least 7 hours of spoken word programming would be in an Aboriginal language, 20% of all musical selections would be performed by Aboriginal talent and 5% of musical selections would be in an Aboriginal language. Given the significant Aboriginal population in Edmonton, which was projected to continue to grow, the Commission was of the view that an additional Native radio station in that market would provide a social benefit through the increased exposure of Aboriginal cultures and perspectives. Further, the Commission considered that approval of AMMSA’s application would contribute to the fulfilment of the objectives of the Broadcasting Act that the Commission ensure a place for Aboriginal persons and programming that reflected the Aboriginal cultures of Canada within the Canadian broadcasting system as resources become available for that purpose. The Edmonton transmitter would operate on 98.5 MHz (channel 253B1) with an average effective radiated power of 9,300 watts. The transmitter at Fort McMurray would broadcast on 94.5 MHz (channel 233B) and have an average effective radiated power of 10,700 watts.


CFWE-FM-5 (94.5) Fort McMurray began broadcasting.


On November 7, the CRTC approved the application by Aboriginal Multi-Media Society of Alberta to amend the licence for the English- and Aboriginal-language, Native Type B radio programming undertaking CFWE-FM-4 Edmonton in order to add a new rebroadcasting FM transmitter at Lac La Biche. The new transmitter would operate at 90.5 MHz (channel 231B1) with an average effective radiated power of 19,600 watts (non-directional antenna with an effective height of antenna above average terrain of 100 metres). AMMSA noted that it was currently authorized to rebroadcast the programming of CFWE-FM-4 Edmonton to the area of Lac La Biche through the following low-power transmitters: CFWE-FM Lac La Biche, VF2244 Buffalo Lake Settlement, VF2242 Beaver Lake Reserve, VF2254 Kikino Settlement, VF2183 Goodfish Lake Settlement. The licensee stated that these low-power transmitters only covered the individual licensed areas, which resulted in signal interference or loss for listeners travelling between communities. As a result, AMMSA proposed to replace these transmitters with one centralized transmitter in order to provide consistent coverage throughout Lac La Biche and the surrounding Aboriginal reserves and settlements. Upon commencement of operations of the new FM transmitter, the licensee would cease operations of its transmitters CFWE-FM, VF2244, VF2242, VF2254 and VF2183.


On September 1, the CRTC approved an application to change the authorized contours of the English-and Aboriginal-language Native Type B radio station CFWE-FM-4 Edmonton. CFWE proposed to increase the effective radiated power from 9,300 to 100,000 watts and decrease the effective height of antenna above average terrain from 162 to153.7 metres.


In the spring, CFWE increased power from 9,300 to 100,000 watts.


On September 6, the CRTC approved the application by Aboriginal Multi-Media Society of Alberta to amend the licence for CFWE-FM-4 in order to operate an FM rebroadcasting transmitter at Grande Prairie. The new transmitter would operate at 105.7 MHz with ERP of 100,000 watts (non-directional antenna with an EHAAT of 243.6 metres).

CFWE-FM-4 Spruce Grove was shut down.


In the summer, CFWE began testing its Grande Prairie transmitter at 105.7 MHz with 100 kW ERP.

CFWE-FM-4 Spruce Grove began operations in July.

On December 12, the CRTC approved CJWE’s application to add the transmitter CFWE-FM-2 Peigan/Blood Reserve Porcupine Hills. The transmitter had been a rebroadcaster for CFWE-FM-4 Edmonton. The transmitter would continue to operate at 89.3 MHz with an average ERP of 2,300 watts (maximum ERP of 10,200 watts with an EHAAT of 273 metres).


On May 30, the CRTC gave CFWE approval to operate a transmitter in Red Deer, operating on 88.7 MHz with ERP of 100,000 watts and EHAAT ot 226.7 metres. The call letters would be CFWE-FM-8.

The story continues elsewhere…
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