Canada — Radio

For music, the requirements are referred to as the MAPL system. Following an extensive public hearing process organised by the CRTC, the MAPL system, created by Stan Klees (co-creator of the Juno Award), was adopted in 1971 to define and identify Canadian content in pieces of music for the purposes of increasing exposure of Canadian music on Canadian radio through content regulations governing a percentage (25%) of airplay to be devoted to Canadian music. The percentage was increased to 30% in the 1980s, and to 35% effective January 3, 1999. However, most new commercial radio stations licensed since 1999 have been licensed at 40%. Some stations — especially those playing formats where there may be a limited number of Canadian recordings suitable for airplay, such as classical, jazz or oldies, may be allowed by the CRTC to meet Canadian content targets as low as 20 per cent. Stations in Windsor, Ontario are also permitted to meet lower Canadian content targets, due to Windsor’s proximity to the Metro Detroit media market in the United States. Community radio and campus-based community radio stations often choose to meet higher Canadian content levels than commercial broadcasters because of their mandate to support up-and-coming Canadian artists and provide content not readily available on commercial radio or the CBC. However, legal Canadian content (CanCon) requirements may be lower for campus and community stations as they often air large quantities of category 3 music. Before the MAPL system was established in 1971, Canadian music was regarded with indifference by Canadian radio. This was a major hurdle for Canadian musicians since they could not gain attention in their home country without having a hit single in the United States or Europe first. Even after MAPL was implemented in the early 1970s, some radio stations were criticised for restricting their Canadian content to off-peak listening hours, in program blocks mockingly known as “beaver hours”. This practice is now prevented by CRTC regulations stipulating CanCon percentages must be met between 6 am and 6 pm, rather than allowing a station to save all their Canadian content for off-peak hours. On satellite radio services, Canadian content regulation is applied in aggregate over the whole subscription package. The licenced satellite radio broadcasters, Sirius Canada and XM Radio Canada, are not required to adjust the programming on the international broadcast services they offer, but must offer a minimum number of Canadian-produced channels with at least 85 per cent Canadian content on those services. (Source: Wikipedia .)

How the MAPL System Works

To qualify as Canadian content a musical selection must generally fulfil at least two of the following conditions:

  • M (music) — the music is composed entirely by a Canadian.
  • A (artist) — the music is, or the lyrics are, performed principally by a Canadian.
  • P (performance) — the musical selection consists of a performance that is:
    • recorded wholly in Canada, or
    • performed wholly in Canada and broadcast live in Canada
  • L (lyrics) — the lyrics are written entirely by a Canadian.[2]

There are four special cases where a musical selection may qualify as Canadian content:

  • The musical selection was recorded before January 1972 and meets one, rather than two, of the above conditions.
  • It is an instrumental performance of a musical composition written or composed by a Canadian.
  • It is a performance of a musical composition that a Canadian has composed for instruments only.
  • The musical selection was performed live or recorded after September 1, 1991, and, in addition to meeting the criterion for either artist or production, a Canadian who has collaborated with a non-Canadian receives at least half of the credit for both music and lyrics.

This last criterion was added in 1991, to accommodate Bryan Adams’ album Waking Up the Neighbours. Adams had collaborated with British record producer Robert John “Mutt” Lange, and as a result, neither the album nor the worldwide smash hit single “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You” qualified as Canadian content under the existing rules. After extensive controversy in the summer of that year, the CRTC changed the rules to allow for such collaborations. Other Canadian artists with long-time international careers, like Anne Murray, Celine Dion, Avril Lavigne, and Shania Twain, have used recording studios in Canada specifically to maintain Cancon status.

What Constitutes a Canadian Under the MAPL System

The CRTC states that for the purposes of the MAPL system, a Canadian can be defined by one of the following:

  • Canadian citizen
  • Permanent resident as defined by the Immigration Act, 1976
  • Person whose ordinary place of residence was Canada for the six months immediately preceding their contribution to a musical composition, performance or concert
  • Licensee, i.e. a person licensed to operate a radio station.

Every radio station in Canada must meet Canadian content quotas, therefore, the MAPL logo, created by Stan Klees, on album packaging and on the compact disc itself increases the chance that the music will receive airplay in Canada. The MAPL logo is a circle divided into four parts, one part for each of the four “MAPL” categories. The categories in which the music qualifies are black with a white initial M, A, P or L. The categories for which the music does not qualify are in white, with a black letter. For further information, see 1 2 3.


Lynn Gailey. 20 March 2012.

Lynn Gailey was the Music Council's research manager up to 2012.

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