Cabin Radio submits new application for FM licence

Last modified: May 5, 2023 at 7:25am

Cabin Radio has submitted a new application to operate a commercial FM radio station in Yellowknife, three months after a federal regulator’s initial rejection.

The application, filed on Thursday, includes nearly 400 letters of support alongside all of the ownership, programming and technical information that must be provided.

Cabin Radio published its application online on Friday.


In February, regulator the CRTC said Yellowknife’s economy could not sustain a new commercial FM radio station, returning Cabin Radio’s initial application – filed in 2019 – without opening it.

The CRTC said Yellowknife was neither big enough nor economically healthy enough for Cabin Radio to join the lone existing commercial licence-holder, True North FM.

But Cabin Radio says the regulator inappropriately assessed the entire NWT’s economy rather than Yellowknife’s specific circumstances, while failing to properly account for the fact that Cabin Radio has been in existence, surviving as part of the Yellowknife market, for years.

In February, the CRTC said it was unlikely to accept a fresh application for at least another two years.

Ahead of submitting its fresh application, Cabin Radio asked the CRTC to set aside that two-year moratorium, saying the extraordinary wait for the CRTC’s first response – 42 months – and some of the defects in the initial decision meant a further delay would be procedurally unfair.


Two CRTC commissioners dissented from the February decision.

“The worst of the pandemic is over. The existing commercial radio station in Yellowknife cannot bar competition indefinitely by citing unprofitability,” Commissioner Joanne T Levy wrote at the time, noting the opposition of Vista Radio, True North FM’s owner, to Cabin Radio’s application.

Vista Radio had told the CRTC that giving Cabin Radio a licence would hurt the viability of True North FM. However, Vista Radio also applied for a second FM licence in Yellowknife at the same time.

Levy noted that despite Vista Radio’s stated concerns, “that did not stop Vista Radio from applying for another licence itself.”


In its new application, Cabin Radio says it has become “part of the lives of Yellowknife residents” since launching an online live stream in 2018.

“We have demonstrated that Cabin Radio speaks to the residents of Yellowknife,” the new application reads.

“We have a proven format, invented in Yellowknife by people who live and work here. Many of our team volunteer their time to the community. The community has sustained Cabin Radio, a business with seven to eight full-time employees, for more than five years.

“Money invested in Cabin Radio stays in the North and grows the North, a statement that cannot be made regarding any other commercial FM operator in the territory. Yellowknife and the Northwest Territories deserve to have at least one commercial FM operator based in the NWT.”

Cabin Radio has separately asked the Federal Court of Appeal for leave to appeal the CRTC’s February decision, and is simultaneously seeking judicial review of that decision.

In March, Cabin Radio said that action was being taken to “preserve all available options” should the CRTC decline to accept a new application.