Why don’t you hear Kpop on the radio in Canada?

With the strong fan bases and dedicated following Kpop artists receive from fans all over the world, some Canadian Kpop fans may wonder why they don’t hear more of their favourite Korean artists played on Canadian radio. After some research and asking around, here are some of the barriers that makes it hard for Kpop to find its place on Canadian radio stations.


BLACKPINK Credit: YG Entertainment

In general, Canadian pop music stations don’t have a large number of songs in their rotations. Adding a new song means bumping another song that is already a solid hit. This problem is made further complicated by The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) and their Canadian Content (CanCon) rule.

CanCon are a set of requirements derived from the Broadcasting Act of Canada, in order to help Canadian artists thrive. These rules say that Canadian radio and television broadcasters must play a certain percentage of Canadian content. This content must be at least partly written by, produced, presented or otherwise have some Canadian contribution in order to qualify. Obviously, this means most Kpop is not CanCon acceptable.


RED VELVET Credit: SM Entertainment

This becomes an issue in Ottawa in particular. As a city, Ottawa is a bit of a unique case in the radio industry because of CRTC and its proximity to Quebec. Stations in Quebec are required by the Quebec government to play a certain amount of French music, this means generally non-hit music. This puts Quebec stations at a disadvantage for playing popular music. Because of this, the stations in Quebec complained. Due to how close Ottawa is to Quebec, the CRTC slapped a disadvantage on Ottawa stations as well. This is called “Hit to Non-Hit ratio”.

“Hit to Non-Hit ratio” means that between certain hours of the day, Ottawa stations have to play a certain percentage of songs that are non-hit songs. With some Kpop artists making Billboards, they are technically hits. This means that these Kpop songs compete with all other non-Canadian hit songs (like Havana by Camilla Cabello) for a spot on the radio’s regular rotations.

NCT 127Credit: SM Entertainment

NCT 127 Credit: SM Entertainment

It’s basically a question of what song do you bump from the rotation to add in Kpop? There aren’t really any Kpop songs that are at the viral level with the general public like Psy’s Gangnam Style was.

There just isn’t enough demand from the general public for Kpop to appear on Canadian radio rotations yet. This doesn’t mean it isn’t a possibility for the future. After all, groups like BTS and NCT have been reaching farther into the general public eye of the West, so we could be hearing more of our favourite Korean artists here in Canada soon.


Sources: CRTC, anonymous Ottawa radio station employee 










4 replies »

  1. This is really interesting, thanks for sharing!
    I also wonder to which degree fears of lashback from consumers affects this. At the library in Alberta where I work there are some library users who won’t even consider checking out a movie if it is in a different language (even if it’s subtitled), and on occasion I’ve dealt with racist comments about things like “why do you have so many foreign movies” etc. Similarly I imagine that radio stations might be nervous about challenging the status quo and playing music in different languages.
    It reminds me of when X Japan began writing english songs to try and capture the interests of a more international audience. It’s unfortunate that many people are so averse to content in different languages- they miss out on so much amazing stuff!

    • I am also a X Japan fan so I definitely see where you are coming from. I agree that to a certain extent most places in Canada are pretty conservative, so language barrier is definitely an issue too. I didn’t really touch on it because it wasn’t mentioned by anyone I interviewed. From my personal view though, I agree with your comment. It’s like I said, there simply isn’t enough demand from the general public yet. Although it may change with younger generations and the world becoming more and more globalized! I like to try and look at things in a positive light.
      Thank you for reading my blog and leaving such a thoughtful comment!

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