Beaver hour

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The beaver hour, or beaver bin, is a satirical nickname for a programming philosophy used by some Canadian radio stations, which was prominent especially, but not exclusively, in the 1970s.

Following the 1971 adoption of Canadian content regulations for Canadian radio, some Canadian radio stations, rightly or wrongly, felt that their audiences did not want to hear Canadian musicians. Accordingly, they would designate certain program blocks in off-peak listening hours, such as late evenings or overnight on weekdays, or early on Sunday mornings, to play almost exclusively Canadian music. This had the effect of reducing the number of Canadian selections that would have to be played during peak listening hours.

These program blocks were referred to as "beaver hours" by listeners and cultural critics, although never officially by radio stations themselves. (The North American Beaver is the national animal of Canada.)

The practice was controversial, and gradually faded in the latter half of the decade as Canadian music began to increase in commercial popularity. However, some top 40 stations in competitive markets (such as CHUM and CFTR in Toronto) continued the practice well into the 1980s.

The name is still used on occasion to refer to any practice, such as the scheduling of Canadian television programming, which has the effect of "ghettoizing" Canadian entertainment.

However, some Canadian radio stations can still be heard playing widely disproportionate quotas of Canadian content in certain off-peak hours. CFLZ-FM in Fort Erie, Ontario, a station that was known to be targeting audiences in the neighbouring city of Buffalo, New York more than in Canada, ran a late evening "Canadian Culture Club" programming block into the 2000s.

Applicants for new broadcasting licenses commonly promise to accept, as a condition of license, higher Canadian content requirements than their competitors, hoping this will advantage their applications. The ultimately successful 2000 CRTC license application proposing an urban music radio station in Vancouver – what became The Beat 94.5 – included an all-Canadian music block during the midday period. (However, in the case of urban music, which has historically been an underserved segment of the Canadian music industry, an all-Canadian programming block could also be seen as a positive development.)

CKNS, a new entrant in Haldimand, Ontario, was licensed in 2004 after at first proposing a 100% Canadian music requirement. Citing second thoughts about songs with some Canadian character that were not recognized as Canadian content, this was reduced during the application to 60%, but the applicant continued to propose a Canadian music format. CKHC, the campus radio station of Toronto's Humber College, voluntarily adopted a 100% Canadian content format when it launched in early 2005.

The license applications for Sirius Canada and XM Radio Canada included several 100% Canadian music channels; the eventual conditions of license for satellite radio in Canada required only 85% Canadian music on designated Canadian channels, but more such channels than had been proposed.

Still today, French Canadian stations usually play a mix of French and English tunes, but they are required to play a minimum quota of francophone contents on-air. Frequently, it results in late-night or off-peak blocks of French cuts. For example, Quebec City rock station CHOI 98.1 FM airs La Dump ou le meilleur du rock francophone ("The Dump, or the best of Francophone Rock") from 9pm to 12am and added more talk contents during daytime.

See also[edit]

  • Cultural cringe
  • E/I, an equivalent current-day requirement to air children's programming on American television stations