BPR-1 — General Rules

Issue 8
January 2021

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Issue 8 of BPR-1 is hereby released.

Listed below are the changes:

  1. explained the process for the issuance of a broadcasting certificate for a new term
  2. incorporated the option to align a broadcasting certificate expiry date with other stations at the same transmission site
  3. clarified the requirements for the demonstration of compliance with Safety Code 6
  4. made editorial changes and clarifications, as appropriate

Issued under the authority of the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry.

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Martin Proulx
Director General
Engineering, Planning and Standards Branch

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Sue Hart
Director General
Spectrum Management Operations Branch

Broadcasting Procedures and Rules (BPR)

The Radiocommunication Act stipulates that no radio apparatus that forms part of a broadcasting undertaking may be installed or operated without a broadcasting certificate issued by the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. Pursuant to paragraphs 5(1)(a) and (d) of the Radiocommunication Act, the Minister is empowered to fix the terms and conditions of the broadcasting certificate and to establish technical requirements and standards in relation to broadcasting undertakings.

This document prescribes the required information for filing applications for broadcasting certificates and specifies the technical standards and requirements as well as operational terms and conditions applicable to broadcasting undertakings.

Broadcasting Procedures and Rules (BPR) consists of six parts. Part 1, entitled General Rules, sets out technical requirements and application procedures common to all broadcasting undertakings. Parts 2, 3, 4, 9 and 10 set forth specific requirements applicable to AM, FM, analog TV, terrestrial S-DARS (Satellite Digital Audio Radio Service) and digital television (DTV) respectively.

The content of these documents notwithstanding, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) may authorize certain minor departures from standards and operational requirements specified herein, when it is shown that quality of service will not be compromised and that harmful interference will not occur.

1. Application procedure and subsequent action

This section establishes the procedure to be followed in preparing and submitting information required in support of applications for broadcasting undertakings.

1.1 Procedure for submission by qualified personnel

The planning and design of new broadcasting undertakings, changes to existing systems, as well as the preparation of engineering briefs submitted in support of applications for designs or design changes, constitute the practice of professional engineering. It is the responsibility of the person signing the submission to comply with appropriate provincial legislation insofar as the practice of professional engineering is concerned.

Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) requires that the design of a proposed system or proposed changes to an existing system be carried out under the responsible supervision of a professional engineer who shall certify the adequacy of the design by affixing their signature and stamp to the engineering brief when this brief is sent to ISED in paper format. A signed electronic version of the engineering brief in PDF format can also be sent to ISED with the application.

When submitting an application to ISED, the applicant shall follow the rules as described in the appropriate Broadcasting Procedures and Rules (BPR) document.

Where low-power broadcasting undertakings are concerned, ISED may, in specific circumstances, waive its requirement that technical submissions be prepared by broadcasting engineering consultants, provided that qualified technical staff prepare and sign the submission.

1.2 Application processing

An application to ISED for a broadcasting certificate shall be accompanied by an application to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) for a broadcasting licence. If a confirmation of the CRTC application is not received within 30 days, the technical application will be returned to the applicant. This does not apply to terrestrial S-DARS (Satellite Digital Audio Radio Service) or to applications meeting CRTC exemption criteria.

If the submission is found to be incomplete or incorrect, the applicant and/or consultant will be notified in writing and the CRTC will be advised accordingly. If the required information is not supplied within the period of time specified in the letter (normally 30 to 45 days), the application will be returned.

Although the CRTC has established criteria to exempt certain categories of AM, FM, TV, and cable systems from the requirements of CRTC licensing, for spectrum management reasons ISED maintains separate exemption criteria based on equipment standards. CRTC licence-exempt broadcasting/receiving undertakings must still meet the relevant BPR(s) and must obtain radio authorizations in the form of broadcasting certificates to operate unless these undertakings also meet the applicable ISED exemption criteria.

ISED exemption criteria for broadcasting and receiving undertakings are available under the Broadcasting Certificate-exempt Radio Apparatus List.

1.3 Application for call signs

An application for a call sign for a new broadcasting undertaking shall be made in writing to ISED at the time of application for the broadcasting certificate. To request a change of call sign for an existing undertaking, an application also needs to be made in writing.

A listing of unassigned basic call signs is available through ISED’s Broadcasting Database.

The rules pertaining to call signs are contained in section 7 of this document.

1.4 On-air testing procedure

On-air testing assures that the broadcasting undertaking will operate in accordance with the approved technical brief and the issued Letter of Approval and that the required protection is given to broadcasting undertakings and radio systems, especially those involved with safety-of-life: aeronautical navigational and communications (NAV/COM) systems.

Following ISED’s approval (and, where applicable, the CRTC’s) and prior to undertaking construction, any changes to the approved proposal (e.g. site, parameters, equipment) shall be submitted to ISED for authorization.

Written authorization from ISED is required for on-air testing. When construction of the approved facilities is complete, a request for on-air testing shall be made to the local ISED district office (see annex A) at least three weeks (unless otherwise specified in the Letter of Approval) prior to transmission tests.

1.4.1 Identification of the broadcasting undertaking

During on-air testing, identification of the broadcasting undertaking will be made at regular intervals as specified in the ISED written authorization, giving, at a minimum, the call sign, frequency and location of the undertaking. Typically, identification will be required at 15-minute intervals for new undertakings and 30-minute intervals for changes of facilities but this may be adjusted based on the individual situation. In the case of rebroadcasting undertakings without capability to originate the aforementioned information, the broadcaster is responsible for making the public aware that the new undertaking is being tested. As an example, a notice could be placed in the local press explaining that the undertaking is being tested and providing a means of contact, such as a telephone number, in the event of interference. The notice should be published for the duration of the on-air testing period, starting on the day the test is scheduled to begin.

The period for on-air testing shall be a minimum of three weeks to a maximum of six weeks, unless otherwise authorized by ISED. If interference or other problems occur, this period may be extended pending satisfactory resolution of said problems. Unless otherwise approved by ISED, compliance with Health Canada’s Safety Code 6 must be demonstrated as per section 8 of this document prior to a request to proceed with normal programming.

Within four months of the successful completion of on-air testing, the applicant shall certify to ISED under the authorized approval of a qualified professional engineer that the broadcasting undertaking is ready to commence operation in accordance with the approved technical submission, and request permission to commence operation. For low-power undertakings, it is recognized that in certain situations, the certification may also be provided by qualified technical staff as per section 1.1.

1.4.2 On-air testing for AM broadcasting undertakings

When construction of the approved facilities is complete, an applicant for an AM broadcasting undertaking shall request an on-air testing authorization issued in the form of a spectrum licence from the local ISED district office, which will include requirements for initial antenna tuning and adjustment. Should interference or other problems occur during the antenna tuning and adjustment, satisfactory resolution of said problems will be required.

During this period, identification of the broadcasting undertaking is required as per section 1.4.1. Once the antenna tuning and adjustment is complete, the applicant shall make a further request to the local ISED district office to begin the on-air testing and inspection period.

Following successful on-air testing, demonstration of compliance with Health Canada’s Safety Code 6 (as per section 8) and the submission of a Proof of Performance as described in Broadcasting Procedures and Rules: Part 2 (BPR-2), Application Procedures and Rules for AM Broadcasting Undertakings, ISED shall notify the applicant that it may commence regular programming. If a Preliminary Proof of Performance was submitted in order to commence regular programming, the applicant shall submit a Final Proof of Performance within four months of the approval of their Preliminary Proof of Performance.

1.4.3 As-built changes

It is recognized that in many cases the final installation may not be exactly as described in the original technical submission. In such cases, the engineering certification shall clearly describe all changes from the original submission and shall include, if applicable, revised pages for the technical brief (or an addendum describing the changes), a revised coverage map and a comparative contour map if applicable. ISED will then determine if an application for a change of facilities is required.

Note that depending on the changes made, the CRTC may independently require the submission of an application. The applicant should contact the CRTC for advice if required.

1.5 Broadcasting allotment plans

ISED maintains allotment plans and related information for AM, FM and TV, along with information about assignments, in its Broadcasting Database.

For the digital television (DTV) allotment plan, consult the Digital Television (DTV) Allotment Plan.

ISED, in its role as spectrum manager, may make changes to the Canadian broadcasting allotment plans based on technical considerations. Note that a broadcasting certificate shall not be construed as conferring any right to continued tenure in respect of the channel assigned to the broadcasting undertaking.

1.6 Broadcasting certificate expiry

Before the expiry of the broadcasting certificate, operators will receive a letter from ISED specifying the requirements to receive a broadcasting certificate for a new term, which include:

  1. confirmation of the need for a new certificate for a new term
  2. demonstration of compliance with Health Canada’s Safety Code 6, as per section 8 of this document

1.7 Alignment of expiry dates of broadcasting certificates

Upon written request from a certificate holder, ISED may issue a certificate for a shorter period than usual to align the certificate expiry date with other stations at the same transmission site.

A request can also be made at any time during the term of a valid certificate, preferably at least one year prior to the expiry of the current certificate or the new proposed expiry date. ISED does not require all co-located operators to agree in order to align the certificates of those wishing to take advantage of this option.

2. Antenna-supporting structure and siting considerations

Applicants proposing to erect a new antenna structure or to modify an existing structure must comply with the requirements set out in Client Procedures Circular CPC-2-0-03, Radiocommunication and Broadcasting Antenna Systems, as may be amended from time to time.

2.1 Land-use authority and public consultation

Unless the broadcasting proposal is excluded from land-use authority and public consultations (see CPC-2-0-03 for details), the following applies.

For applications already approved by the CRTC or those meeting CRTC exemption criteria, the broadcasting applicant may proceed immediately to land-use authority and public consultation as described in CPC-2-0-03.

All other applications are subject to CRTC licensing processes in addition to ISED requirements and, as such, broadcasting applicants may opt to commence land-use authority and public consultations after having received CRTC approval. However, broadcasting applicants choosing this option are required, at the time of the CRTC application, to notify the land-use authority via a Letter of Intent (see annex D), with a commitment to conduct any required consultations after receiving CRTC approval. A copy of the Letter of Intent shall be sent to ISED. If the land-use authority raises concerns about the proposal as described in the Letter of Intent, the applicant is encouraged to engage in discussions with the land-use authority about those concerns and to attempt to resolve any issues.

Technical acceptability is contingent on the successful completion of the consultation process and ISED will send the Letter of Approval only once it has been informed that the consultation process as per CPC-2-0-03 has been completed successfully.

2.2 Exposure to radio frequency energy

Health Canada’s Safety Code 6 (SC6) guidelines, Limits of Human Exposure to Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Energy in the Frequency Range from 3 kHz to 300 GHz, set out safety limits for human exposure to radio frequency (RF) fields in the frequency range 3 kHz to 300 GHz. While the responsibility for developing SC6 rests with Health Canada, ISED has adopted these guidelines for the purpose of protecting Canadians.

As outlined in CPC-2-0-03, it is the responsibility of proponents and operators of installations to ensure that all radiocommunication and broadcasting antenna systems comply with SC6 guidelines at all times, including the consideration of combined effects of nearby installations within the local radio environment. To this end, the engineering brief submitted in support of an application for a broadcasting certificate shall contain an analysis of the RF exposure levels resulting from the new or modified transmitting facility. Details of the RF exposure evaluation procedure are given in section 8 of this document.

2.3 Immunity-type interference

Broadcast receivers and associated equipment, as well as radio-sensitive equipment, in proximity to a broadcasting transmitting site can experience immunity-type interference. Broadcasters are to ensure that their installations are designed and operated in such a way that such interference is minimized. ISED’s Electromagnetic Compatibility Advisory Bulletin (EMCAB-2), Criteria for Resolution of Immunity Complaints Involving Fundamental Emissions of Radiocommunications Transmitters, has defined field strength levels that can be used as a guideline in making determinations for these types of interference situations; the service-specific BPRs address this issue in more detail.

2.4 Other factors affecting site selection

Each service has specific factors that may affect site selection; for example, strong adjacent channel signals, intermodulation, interference to other services, proximity to nearby structures, etc. Refer to the service-specific BPR for details.

2.5 Broadcasters’ responsibility

Applicants are required to consider the population that may be affected by the types of interference described in sections 2.3 and 2.4. Furthermore, if there is potential for large developments in the area, the impact on future residents should also be considered. Broadcasters are responsible for solving certain interference problems in the vicinity of their installations. Refer to the service-specific BPR for details.

3. Coverage maps and service contours

The engineering briefs in support of applications for new broadcasting undertakings, or for changes in the facilities of existing undertakings, shall include service contours as prescribed under the relevant broadcasting application procedure. These service contours shall be submitted in either paper or electronic format. Preparation of the coverage maps and submission of the service contours are described below.

The maps are used by ISED for its technical evaluation of the proposal. ISED will make electronic copies of these maps available for circulation to broadcasting consultants, the CRTC, the broadcasting industry, and other interested agencies.

3.1 Preparation of coverage maps

Coverage maps must have all features clearly legible. The recommended electronic format for coverage maps should have a minimal resolution of 300 dpi over a printed area of 11” x 14”.

The following is a summary of the requirements:

  1. Geographic coordinate information shall appear on at least two adjacent edges of maps supplied with a minimal accuracy of 1 degree (for both latitude and longitude).
  2. A dimensional scale shall be clearly shown.
  3. Antenna location shall be plotted and marked with a cross with geographic coordinates, precise to one-second accuracy.
  4. All contours shall be clearly labelled. The preferred technique is to place labels along the contour lines, thereby avoiding arrows.
  5. A title block of minimal dimensions representing an area of 10% of the total map, shall preferably be placed in the lower right-hand corner. It should contain sufficient information to identify the proposal. A stamp by a professional engineer should be placed beside the title block. An acceptable title block is illustrated below.

    Name of Broadcasting Engineer Consultant space to insert full name

    Applicant's Name
    Proposed Location of Undertaking
    Call Sign

    Parameters of Proposed Operation (frequency or channel; average ERP; class; mode of operation, etc.)

    Date Map Prepared          Signature or Initials

  6. In cases of proposed changes to facilities, AM to FM conversions, and analog to digital conversions, a map showing comparative contours shall be submitted. Refer to the service-specific BPR for details.
  1. For paper contour representations, Natural Resources Canada (Surveys and Mapping Branch) maps shall normally be used in the submission, with a scale consistent with the extent of the contour and the format required. However, should more up-to-date official provincial government maps be available, these may be used when, for instance, there is particular significance in determining the most recent metropolitan area limits.
  2. Computer-generated coverage maps are to be generated using Geographic Information System (GIS) software together with a GIS database (i.e. a standardized digitized geographical base map).

    The GIS database used (whether it is a vector or raster-type base map) must have the resolution and the level of detail of a 1:1 000 000 scale map as a minimum for coverage maps. For site location maps, a scale of 1:50 000 is required. If the GIS database used does not have this resolution, Natural Resources Canada maps or other types as referred to in note (a) above are required.

    Computer-generated maps must have a representation (in terms of the level of detail or layers and colour scheme) comparable to Natural Resources Canada maps referred to in note (a) above, and must be in accordance with the other requirements in section 3 of this document. Scale must be consistent with the extent of the contour and the format required.
  3. All coverage maps supplied shall be clear in all details ensuring that significant information is not hidden by labelling.

3.2 Electronic submission of service contours

The service contours shall be submitted electronically and must comply with the MapInfo file infrastructure.

The latitude-longitude geographical projection shall be used and the datum WGS84 must be specified.

Service contours shall be defined using at least one point at every 5 degrees starting at 0 degrees True North. For directional patterns, more points must be added if required to properly define the nulls and the shape of the directionality in the pattern. For interference contours, the level of detail needed with regard to the points used shall be similar to the service contour. All contours must define closed regions, thus covering 360 degrees.

3.2.1 For MapInfo users

The following file types must be used when submitting contour information, with one set per service contour:

  • *.dat
  • *.id
  • *.map
  • *.tab

The “*” symbol represents the name given to the file.

3.2.2 For users of GIS software packages other than MapInfo

When choosing a GIS software package, ensure that it can export its output to the MapInfo Interchange Format (MIF) and that it can generate the required file types *.mid and *.mif, with one set of these files per service contour.

3.2.3   Naming convention for the files submitted

The following structure shall be used to name each file submitted:

  • application identifier + underscore + contour type

The application identifier is a string of up to 12 characters maximum.

The contour type depends on the service; the examples in table 1, below, illustrate which symbols to use. For AM, follow the contour value with the appropriate D, N or NL letters (Day, Night or Night Limit).

Table 1 contains examples that illustrate the use of this naming convention. The application identifier used here for demonstration purposes is the “*”symbol.

Table 1: Examples of naming conventions
Type of application Contour type Naming under MapInfo Naming under other GIS
Contour Symbol
FM 500 V/m 05 *_05.dat, *_05.id, *_05.map, *_05.tab *_05.mid
3 mV/m 3 *_3.dat, *_3.id, *_3.map, *_3.tab *_3.mid
TV Grade A A *_A.dat, *_A.id, *_A.map, *_A.tab *_A.mid
Grade B B *_B.dat, *_B.id, *_B.map, *_B.tab *_B.mid
DTV Noise-Limited Bounding Contour (NLBC) NLBC *_NLBC.dat,
DTV Urban Contour (DUC) DUC *_DUC.dat, *_DUC.id,
*_DUC.map, *_DUC.tab
AM Daytime 0.5 mV/m 05D *_05D.dat, *_05D.id, *_05D.map, *_05D.tab *_05D.mid
Night Limit (NL)
NL *_NL.dat, *_NL.id, *_NL.map

Realistic or terrain-limited contours should append an “R” to the end of a symbol (e.g. *_AR) for a realistic Grade A contour.

The following contour type should be used for interference areas for any type of application:

  • contour type = channel + class + city of the interfering station

Each interference area should be located in a separate set of files.

4. AM, FM or TV proposals predicated on release of assigned broadcasting frequencies, or proposals for changes to existing broadcasting facilities

Occasionally, it may appear expedient to file an application for a broadcasting undertaking predicated on a frequency that is not yet available, but is expected to become available as a result of a change of frequency or other changes at existing facilities.

ISED may accept an application for a broadcasting certificate based on the above situation. However, technical acceptability will be conditional on the release of the frequency, or on the implementation of the change(s) to facilities at the existing broadcasting undertaking. Should this application be approved by the CRTC (where applicable), the implementation of the undertaking may not be effected until the frequency has actually been vacated or facilities changed. In order to minimize problems, coordination between all parties is encouraged. The cooperation of all parties is required for the approval of the application.

Under no circumstances will a proposal involving interference during the transition period be considered unless an agreement has been reached with the parties involved.

5. Requirements for the technical operation of broadcasting transmitter facilities

These operational requirements apply to broadcasting undertakings that have received their broadcasting certificates.

The holder of a broadcasting certificate for a transmitter facility is responsible for maintaining frequency, modulation, antenna radiation patterns (directional and omnidirectional) and total power within permitted tolerances at all times. Minimum requirements for controlling, measuring and monitoring broadcasting transmitter facilities are specified in sections 5.1, 5.2 and 5.3 respectively.

Compliance with minimum requirements may be achieved by operating the facility under either local control (attended) or remote control (unattended). If the facility is normally operated unattended via remote control system and that system fails, the facility shall be operated under local control until the remote control system is once again operative.

5.1 Controlling trasmitter facilities

At a minimum, the requirements for controlling transmitter facilities are as follows:

  1. [RF power] ON-OFF
  2. for AM stations, selection of day and night power and/or radiation pattern selection, where applicable
  3. [Transmitter] resets, if applicable

5.2 Measuring trasmitter facilities

The following accurate monthly measurements are required:

  1. Frequency: The carrier frequency shall be measured.
  2. Modulation: The maximum permissible modulation levels relevant to the specific mode of transmission shall be verified.
  3. Power: The power output of the transmitter shall be measured by either a permanently installed calibrated power meter or by connecting a calibrated external power measuring device to a transmitter output port. For AM radio transmitters, measurements shall be made of the RF current at the transmitter output or at the common point. For an AM radio transmitter with directional antenna(s), measurements shall also be made of the tower currents (or ratios) and phases for each radiation pattern certified.

For AM stations, the implementation of Modulation Dependent Carrier Level (MDCL) control may have an impact on the above operating parameters. The MDCL control must be turned off when accurate measurements are performed in order to obtain results that are not affected by it.

  • Normally, the measurements outlined above shall be taken monthly. However, if the broadcaster requests that accurate measurements be taken less frequently and can demonstrate to the satisfaction of ISED that frequency, modulation and power remain stable, ISED may permit measurements to be taken and logged less frequently.
  • The measurements outlined above shall be logged and the logs made available for inspection by ISED on demand for a minimum period of six years for AM undertakings and two years for others. Also, any significant facility abnormalities and corrective action taken shall be logged.
  • It is the responsibility of the holder of the broadcasting certificate to maintain the facility within permitted maximum tolerances at all times. If any parameter is out of tolerance at the time of accurate measurements, then corrective action shall be taken, along with more frequent measurements, until the parameter is reset within tolerance.

5.3 Monitoring trasmitter facilities

During periods between accurate measurements as outlined in section 5.2 above, undertakings shall be monitored either locally at the transmitter or remotely. Communication between monitoring and control points shall be available.

Rebroadcasting undertakings from which off-air signals are not available at the control point shall be monitored by a local person designated by the holder of the broadcasting certificate. Monitoring RF power may be accomplished from either a direct monitoring method or using RF field strength. The minimum requirement is an indication from an S meter incorporated into a suitable monitor receiver at the control point, or an indication of the signal strength from a digitally tuned receiver.

Undertakings shall be capable of being monitored continuously as follows.

5.3.1 AM undertakings

AM transmitters may be monitored with a digitally tuned receiver. At the control point, a means for monitoring modulation shall be available, such as:

  • an audio level meter connected to the output of the receiver
  • an oscilloscope displaying the modulated RF signal
  • any other audible or visible signalling device that will indicate the level of modulation

In all cases, the off-air program audio shall be available at the control point for monitoring subjective quality and modulation.

The above monitoring equipment shall remain operational when MDCL control is enabled. For directional arrays, indication of additional antenna parameters may be required at the control point.

5.3.2 FM undertakings

For modulation monitoring, an audio level meter driven by the receiver shall be visible at the control point, or an alternative audible or visible signalling device which indicates the level of modulation may be used. The off-air program audio shall be available at the control point for monitoring subjective quality and modulation. If applicable, facilities shall also be provided for aural monitoring of stereophonic and other signals.

5.3.3 TV undertakings

Undertakings that have manned control facilities within reach of off-air signals shall have the following at their disposal:

  • a demodulated off-air TV signal, together with picture and waveform monitors

For analog TV:

  • a means of indicating the depth of the modulation of the visual carrier
  • a means of monitoring aural program level and quality

Monitoring of RF power of the aural transmitter may be interpreted from transmission line power, voltage or current, plate current, or RF field strength. Remote monitoring of aural RF power is not mandatory.

5.3.4 Other digital transmission facilities (DTV, S-DARS)

Monitoring of RF power shall be performed when requested by ISED.

5.3.5 Continuous monitoring

Broadcasting undertakings that utilize remote control calibrated monitoring systems:

  • to monitor the critical operating parameters listed in sections 5.2 and 5.3
  • to immediately report out-of-tolerance conditions to the control point(s)
  • to log out-of-tolerance conditions

shall be considered as meeting the monitoring requirements in section 5 provided that corrective measures are initiated as soon as out-of-tolerance conditions are detected (see section 5.2 on accurate measurements).

In situations where the broadcasting undertakings utilize such remote control and monitoring systems, the measurements referenced in section 5.2, and any appropriate recalibration of the monitoring system, shall be conducted and logged during regular maintenance visits.

The holder of a broadcasting certificate is responsible for ensuring that obstruction marking, lighting, and monitoring for antenna support structures are in accordance with current Transport Canada requirements.

5.4 Description of technical facilities

The applicant for a broadcasting certificate shall submit to the Director, Broadcast, Coordination and Planning, prior to on-air operation, a description of the technical facilities at their disposal enabling them to comply with the minimum requirements specified in section 5.1, above. The submission shall include the following:

  • the transmitter manufacturer and model, and departmental Technical Acceptance Certificate (TAC) number (the requirement for a TAC does not apply to digital transmitters)
  • a description of the monitoring and the out-of-tolerance reporting system where the facilities are monitored on a continuous basis, as described in section 5.3.5
  • a list of equipment available for the accurate measurements required in section 5.2 (if the measurement equipment does not normally remain at the transmitter facility, its normal location and availability shall be specified)
  • a list of equipment available for monitoring as specified in section 5.3
6. Requirements for the establishment of auxiliary transmitting systems

Many broadcasting undertakings find it expedient to provide auxiliary transmitting systems to ensure continuity of service in the event of main transmitting system failure or for maintenance periods (see definitions for “main transmitter” and “auxiliary transmitters” in section 6.1, below). This action is in the public interest and every encouragement is given to licensees to equip their undertakings in this manner.

In order to comply with the provisions of the Radiocommunication Act and international agreements, and to maintain an appropriate engineering standard of equipment and installations, the requirements as outlined in this section have been put into place.

Authorization is required for the installation and use of any auxiliary transmitting system. Applications for authorization to establish alternate or standby facilities shall be made either online through ISED’s Spectrum Management System or by email or mail to the Director, Broadcast, Coordination and Planning, using form ISED-ISDE3689, Application for a Broadcasting Certificate for an Auxiliary Broadcast Transmitting System, which is available online.

The following shall be submitted with the application:

  1. a text file containing horizontal and vertical antenna pattern data, in accordance with annex E for electronic submissions, or horizontal and vertical antenna pattern data in tabulated format for non-electronic submissions
  2. form ISED-ISDE2430, Radiocommunication and Broadcasting Antenna Systems Attestation, for standby transmitters submitted via email (in PDF format) or by non-electronic submission

Authorization to establish an emergency transmitting system shall be obtained from the responsible local ISED district office (see annex A).

Nothing contained herein relieves the licensee of their responsibilities under Radiocommunication Regulations relating to the control of undertakings in a national emergency.

6.1 Definitions and usage

Main transmitter: A broadcasting transmitter for which a TAC has been issued with rated power output as authorized, and which is primarily used to provide the service for which the undertaking is licensed.

Auxiliary transmitters: There are three types of auxiliary transmitters, as defined below.

Alternate transmitter: A broadcasting transmitter for which a TAC has been issued with the same rated power and electrical characteristics as the main transmitter, and which is used alternately with the main transmitter to provide the service for which the undertaking is licensed.

Standby transmitter: A broadcasting transmitter for which a TAC has been issued, and which is used to maintain some continuity of service in the event of main or alternate transmitter failure. This transmitter may also be used during specified periods when maintenance is being carried out on the main transmitter. The power or the coverage required by a standby transmitter is specified in section 6.2.2.

Emergency transmitter: An unplanned broadcasting transmitter installation used to provide continuity of service necessitated by unforeseen circumstances beyond the control of the undertaking licensee. The operation of such systems shall normally be limited to a duration of two weeks; however, a longer term may be authorized when warranted due to extraordinary circumstances. Authority may be obtained from the responsible local ISED district office; otherwise, the provisions of section 6.4 apply.

Unless otherwise approved by ISED, the maximum power for these emergency operations for various broadcasting services shall be the lesser of the licensed station power or, for:

  • AM Broadcasting Service: 250 watts
  • FM Broadcasting Service: 1 kW ERP
  • Television Broadcasting Service: 1 kW ERP

Emergency transmitters, if not issued a TAC, shall comply with technical requirements dealing with frequency tolerance, spurious harmonic radiation, and safety. It is strongly recommended that these emergency transmitters comply with as many as possible of the other requirements as well.

6.2 Location of transmitters

Transmitters shall be located as described below.

6.2.1 Main and alternate transmitters

Main and alternate transmitters shall be located at the main transmitter site as shown on the broadcasting certificate and shall operate into the antenna system that has been approved for the broadcasting undertaking’s power and frequency. In all respects, the two transmitters shall be completely interchangeable without measurable effect on the signal in any direction.

6.2.2 Standby transmitters

Standby transmitters may be located at either the main transmitter site or another approved site, and shall operate into either the main or another approved antenna system.

The location and parameters of the standby operation shall be such that the local service contour would enclose the principal population centre that the undertaking is licensed to serve. The power of AM standby transmitters located in a metropolitan area shall not exceed the lesser of the station’s licensed power or 250 watts.

6.2.3 Emergency transmitters

Emergency transmitting systems are unplanned installations and their necessity results from unforeseen circumstances beyond the control of the undertaking licensee. The location of any such system shall be agreed upon by the local ISED district office.

6.3 Maintenance and operation

The requirements of section 5 shall apply to alternate and standby facilities. When alternate, standby or emergency transmitters are used, a log shall be kept covering each operation with an explanation of the circumstances and the necessity for such an operation.

6.3.1 Identification of undertakings during standby or emergency operation

Undertakings shall identify themselves hourly during times of standby or emergency operation and shall include an indication that the undertaking is operating with reduced power and with a different antenna location where applicable.

6.4 Special case operations

There may be exceptional circumstances requiring the operation of auxiliary facilities other than those described here. Such requirements shall be submitted to the Director, Broadcast, Coordination and Planning, and will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

7. Assignment and identification requirements for broadcasting undertakings

Article 19 of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Radio Regulations requires that the identification of broadcasting stations be done through the use of call signs. In Canada, this requirement is reflected in section 18 of the Radiocommunication Regulations, in the Broadcasting Procedures and Rules, and in Broadcasting Equipment Technical Standard BETS-11, Technical Requirements Respecting the Identification of Broadcasting Stations. Call signs do not apply to S DARS broadcasting stations.

7.1 Assignment of call signs

The call sign shall be used for the identification of the broadcasting station by the main program and optionally by ancillary programs. Special call signs will not be issued for ancillary services (e.g. Subsidiary Communication Multiplex Operations (SCMO)).

The call signs in the list developed by ISED begin with one of the letter groupings CF, CH, CI, CJ, CK, which constitute a subset of the letters that have been assigned to Canada under the ITU (see ITU Radio Regulations, article 19 and appendix 42). By special arrangement, broadcasting undertakings owned and operated by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation can be assigned call signs beginning with CB.

Basic call signs are made up of four letters, the first two taken from the two-letter groupings CF, CH, CI, CJ, CK indicated above. In special cases, three-letter call signs will be used for national network undertakings. The suffixes FM, TV and DT will identify FM, TV and DTV undertakings respectively. Numerical suffixes will be appended to identify rebroadcasting undertakings, where the same basic call sign is assigned to the originating as well as to the rebroadcasting undertaking (rebroadcasting undertakings are those that simultaneously broadcast the programs of another undertaking for at least half of the broadcasting schedule).

If a specific call sign is not required by the applicant, special call signs consisting of two letters and four digits will be used for satellite-fed low-power FM and TV undertakings that have no local programming (i.e. VF2000 to VF9999 for FM and CH2000 to CH9999 for TV). Note that two-letter, four-digit call signs are also used for other low-power FM undertakings that are CRTC licence-exempt, such as tourist information stations or short-duration stations for special events.

The call sign shall be selected by the applicant at the time of submitting an application for a broadcasting certificate (from ISED) and a broadcasting licence (from the CRTC). It shall be selected from the list of available call signs that ISED has posted on its website (see section 1.3). The selected call sign will be reserved for the period that the application is considered active. Information concerning the call sign may be obtained by examining the application for the broadcasting certificate that is on file with ISED, after the CRTC has published its public notice relative to the related licence application.

7.2 Identification of broadcasting undertakings

Pursuant to section 18 of the Radiocommunication Regulations, a broadcasting station for which a call sign has been issued must identify itself in accordance with the provisions of BETS-11.

The holder of the broadcasting certificate for a rebroadcasting undertaking complies with these requirements if its originating broadcasting undertaking identifies it in accordance with the provisions of section 2.3 of BETS-11.

Rebroadcasting undertakings that meet the criteria of section 2.4 of BETS-11 comply with these requirements.

8. Assessment of exposure to radio frequency energy

To fulfill the ongoing regulatory Safety Code 6 compliance obligation, proponents and operators of installations shall, in the engineering brief submitted in support of an application for a broadcasting certificate, provide a preliminary analysis of RF exposure levels resulting from the new or modified transmitting facility.

The applicant must then demonstrate compliance with SC6 and meet the requirements set forth in Guideline GL-08, Guidelines for the Preparation of Radio Frequency (RF) Exposure Compliance Reports for Radiocommunication and Broadcasting Antenna Systems, prior to the request to proceed with normal programming to ISED.

Standalone low-power and very low-power undertakings may be exempt from any further analysis related to RF exposure limits provided the applicant can demonstrate compliance based on the requirements outlined in annex C.

8.1 Method of analysis

Exposure limits specified in SC6 vary as a function of frequency. Where exposure to radio frequency energy is caused by more than one source, compliance with the exposure limits shall be verified by summing the contributions of individual sources, each expressed as a fraction of the exposure limits, for all radiocommunication and broadcasting systems within the local radio environment.

The fractional contribution limits at each pertinent frequency:

\[F_i = \frac{P_i}{S_i}\]

(eq. 1)


Fi = the fractional contribution of each source
Pi = the power density produced by each source
Si = exposure limit at the pertinent frequency

Using a simple, conservative approach, the fractional contribution for each FM, TV, DTV, S-DARS broadcasting undertaking, as well as any additional non-broadcasting transmitter that must be considered, is calculated using one of the following formulas:

\[F_i = \frac{3.341 \times 10^{-1} \times k \times ERP_i}{d^2 \times P_{si}}\]
\[F_i = \frac{1.260 \times 10^2 \times k \times ERP_i}{d^2 \times E^2_{si}}\]
\[F_i = \frac{8.863 \times 10^{-4} \times k \times ERP_i}{d^2 \times H^2_{si}}\]

(eq. 2)


k = 1 for single polarization FM, DTV, S-DARS terrestrial transmitters and other single polarization non-broadcasting undertakings
k = 2 for dual or circularly polarized FM, DTV and other dual or circularly polarized non broadcasting undertakings
k = 0.7 for horizontally polarized NTSC (National Television Systems Committee) TV undertakings
k = 1.4 for dual or circularly polarized NTSC TV undertakings
ERPi = maximum ERP (effective radiated power) for the individual station, in watts
d = shortest unobstructed distance from ground or any location accessible to the public, to the centre of radiation of the transmitting antenna, in metres
Psi = SC6 exposure limits for uncontrolled environments expressed as power density in W/m2 at the pertinent frequency
Esi = SC6 exposure limits for uncontrolled environments expressed as electric field in V/m at the pertinent frequency
Hsi = SC6 exposure limits for uncontrolled environments expressed as magnetic field in A/m at the pertinent frequency

Note: The above formulas are based on the modified free-space propagation model and are in respect to the SC6 limits for uncontrolled environments. The modified free-space power density formula is used to account for ground wave reflection. The equivalent E-field includes both the direct and the reflected E-fields where the reflected portion of the E-field is taken as 60% of the direct E field. The modified free-space propagation model can be expressed as follows:

\[Wm = 2.56 \times EIRP \div 4 \pi r^{2}\]


Wm = the power density obtained from the antenna at the point of interest (W/m2)
EIRP = the effective isotropic radiated power (W)
r = is the distance from the radiation centre of the antenna to the point of interest (m)

The total exposure level for a given radio environment is then given by:

\[F = \sum^{N}_{i=1} F_{i} = \sum^{N}_{i=1} \frac {P_i}{S_i} \]


F = total fractional contribution of all sources
N = number of radio frequency sources under consideration

For compliance with SC6, the value of F must be less than unity.

For AM broadcasting undertakings, ISED will use the tables in annex B to establish the distance from individual towers of the antenna array where exposure to radio frequency energy is predicted to exceed 50% of the uncontrolled environment (UE) exposure limits of SC6.

ISED will also accept on-site measurements for existing facilities as part of the analysis. When determining RF levels for the purpose of compliance with the UE limits of SC6, the measurement equipment uncertainty (as published by the equipment manufacturer) must be added to the measured value; the resulting value must not exceed 100% of the UE limits of SC6.

Refer to GL-01, Guidelines for the Measurement of Radio Frequency Fields at Frequencies From 3 kHz to 300 GHz, for the measurement procedures when verifying compliance, and to CPC-2-0-20, Radio Frequency (RF) Fields- Signs and Access Control, for the requirements to ensure a site is compliant, including potential corrective measures that may be required should a site be found to be non-compliant.

8.2 Conditions for technical acceptability

The following conditions must be met, as applicable to each service, for an installation to be deemed technically acceptable:

  1. For AM undertakings, the method described in annex B shall be used to determine the compliance distance for each tower.
    If distances are predicted to be not in compliance, the proposal shall include corrective measures to ensure compliance with SC6; otherwise, it will be considered technically unacceptable.
  2. For FM, TV, S-DARS and DTV undertakings, calculate Fi for the proposed application alone, assuming an isotropic source using the maximum value of the proposed ERPi (equation 2 of section 8.1).

    If Fi ≤ 0.01 (i.e. 1% of the exposure limits) in any area accessible to the general public, then compliance is presumed. However, ISED may, at its discretion, require further analysis.
    If the 1% limit is exceeded in an area accessible to the general public, the analysis should be repeated taking into account the contribution of the proposed facility, as well as contributions from all RF transmitters within the local radio environment.
    Note: In addition to the RF installations at the site under study, nearby RF transmitting facilities can also impact the calculations, especially if they are high-power transmitters. It is important to assess the full radio environment when evaluating SC6 compliance. Mathematical predictions and field measurements have demonstrated that non-broadcasting wireless transmitters beyond 100 m from a given site have negligible impact on the overall exposure level at the site. Close attention should be given to broadcasting stations within 1 km of the proposed site. Any RF transmitting facilities within the above distances must be taken into account in the detailed site analysis. If any antenna systems have been excluded from the analysis, the rationale should be provided.
    1. Evaluated Total Exposure < 50% of UE Limits
      “Evaluated Total Exposure” (ETE) is the predicted exposure from the facilities, or the sum of the measured exposure levels at the existing facilities and the predicted exposure levels from the proposed facilities.
      If the ETE is less than 50% of the UE limits of SC6, the facilities will be considered compliant and no further analysis is required at that time.
    2. 50% of the UE Limits ≤ Evaluated Total Exposure ≤ UE Limits
      If the ETE is equal to or greater than 50% of the UE limits, without exceeding the limits, in any area accessible to the general public, technical acceptability may be granted conditionally upon the applicant undertaking RF exposure level measurements at the time the facility begins testing. It must be demonstrated that the facilities are compliant with the UE limits while including the measurement equipment uncertainty, noting that mitigation measures may be required in order to ensure ongoing compliance.
    3. Evaluated Total Exposure > Exposure Limits
      If evaluated total exposure is predicted to exceed the exposure limits in any area accessible to the general public, the proposal shall include corrective measures to ensure compliance with SC6; otherwise, it will be considered technically unacceptable.

In all cases, ISED reserves the right to request the measurement of the exposure levels at a site, before or after the construction of the undertaking.

8.3 Contact and induced currents

It is important to note that undertakings operating in the frequency range up to 110 MHz may induce an alternating electric potential on ungrounded or poorly grounded metallic objects, such as guy-wire anchor points, in the vicinity of the antenna(s).

When a person touches such objects, RF currents will flow through the person to the ground and the current levels will depend on a number of factors. Even though a person may not be touching a metallic object, RF currents can still be induced in the body by external RF fields and may flow through the body to the ground. The exposure limits for contact and induced currents from 3 kHz to 110 MHz are specified in SC6. Refer to GL-01 for recommended measurement procedures of contact and induced currents.

8.4 Operational considerations

Under conditional technical acceptability (see item b) (ii) of section 8.2), if measurements uncover areas accessible to the general public that exceed the exposure limits, then immediate corrective action(s) must be taken by the applicant to bring the installation into compliance with SC6.

  1. Corrective measures recommended to bring the facility into compliance with SC6 may be found in CPC-2-0-20.
  2. Where area demarcation and access control alone cannot ensure compliance to SC6 limits for uncontrolled environments, the applicant shall reduce transmitter power and/or adjust the antenna system, or take other measures (to the extent of shutting down the broadcasting facility) to comply with SC6.
9. Requirements for the selection of transmitting equipment

The applicant or holder of a broadcasting certificate for a broadcasting transmitting undertaking is required to use transmitting equipment that meets the following criteria for all regular-power and low-power undertakings:

  1. The equipment has been issued a Technical Acceptance Certificate (TAC) under the applicable Broadcasting Equipment Technical Standard as a single unit; or the equipment has been constructed of sub-assemblies from certified transmitters (e.g. an exciter from one transmitter and a final amplifier from another transmitter).

    Note: The foregoing notwithstanding, ISED reserves the right to require that measurements be taken and that a report be submitted to demonstrate compatibility with the applicable Broadcasting Equipment Technical Standard with regards to spurious and harmonic emissions.
  2. Emissions from digital broadcasting facilities must conform with technical requirements specified in the service-specific Broadcasting Procedures and Rules.