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Saturday, September 06, 2008

Christian radio denied licence by the CRTC (porn gets the go-ahead)

We covered the all-Canadian porn TV station, Alberta's Northern Peaks, that recently received approval from the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). Albertans sick-and-tired of having to watch American-made pornography will soon be treated to seeing their friends and neighbours in compromising positions. Ahem.

But while the CRTC gave the thumbs-up to porn, they gave a thumbs-down to a Christian radio station vying for a licence to play Christian music and Christian talk (a follow-up notice was posted with the comment: "A dissenting opinion by Commissioner Michel Morin is attached" but the attachment was not available on-line, and I don't know exactly what the "commissioner" was dissenting to. If someone can find this out, please drop a comment. UPDATE: Fact Check, in the comments, points to the dissenting opinion. The opinion is half-way down here. The Commissioner would like to have seen a talk station for the sake of "diversity" and "competition." Nothing interesting to see here).

With 780 letters of support in tow, the station did not prevail over Astral, with their 77 letters of support, or a proposed blues station which snapped up the 99.7 FM and 101.3 FM dials, respectively. That left many Christians "livid," as the Ottawa Citizen described them. From their story:

"The approval of (Northern Peaks) was quite offensive," said Don Hutchison, director of law and public policy for the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada. "The CRTC has, for the past 15 years, sent a strong message they don't like Christian broadcasting, but they will allow it with heavy restrictions."

Ottawa listener David MacDonald, who used to have his own Christian radio program, is more blunt: "It's really getting tough to be a Christian in a country that was founded on Christian values.

"On Normandy Beach, what you see is a big cross ... you don't see a big dildo."

The CRTC has been in our crosshairs for a long time.

We covered the controversy that swirled around Quebec City's most popular libertarian/conservative radio station CHOI-FM and the CRTC's decision to shut them down for giving offense. (The fact that CHOI had a pro-liberty bias had--of course, of course--nothing at all to do with the decision).

The decision led to a huge rally in Quebec City, and the election of self-described libertarian Andre Arthur ("King Arthur" was his radio name, and we covered this as well) as an independent MP in the Portneuf--Jacques-Cartier riding.

As if "free speechers" needed any more reason to band together and round up the pro-censorship jackals at the CRTC and the CHRC. Time to make censorship a dominant issue in the upcoming federal election. Let prospective politicians know, when they come around to knock on your door, that you're tired of having government oversight of what you read, watch, and listen to.

Help us make it an issue in this campaign.

Posted by P.M. Jaworski on September 6, 2008 | Permalink


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The dissenting opinion is on the page you linked here (scroll halfway down): http://www.crtc.gc.ca/archive/ENG/Decisions/2008/db2008-222.htm . Not much to see there, as he agrees with granting the license to Astral.

It is worth noting that the decision to deny the Christian radio station a license was not a simple yes/no on them alone. They were one of four stations that applied for a license for the same frequency, so by the nature of the process only one could be accepted and three had to be rejected.

But that makes me wonder why there was such a limitation. Why not add four new stations at four different frequencies and let them all in? The answer to that is given by the criteria they used to make their decision. They say:

"The Commission is of the view that the primary issues to be considered are as follows:

"Can the Ottawa-Gatineau radio market sustain additional radio services?

"If so, which of the applications should be approved, in light of the factors identified in Broadcasting Public Notice 2007-66 (the Call)?"

In short, a license will only be granted if doing so does not threaten the existing stations. The regulation, then, is not to protect the public in any way, but to protect the business interests of the stations operating - to prevent competition.

That is not a good babsis for making a decision. I say fill the dial as densely as possible with as many radio stations as can possibly fit and may the most popular ones win. This still means that there might be some role for a licensing body (to prevent overlap of signals), but a very limited one.

Besides, old fashioned radio is a fairly dead medium. Sattelite radio and streaming online are the way of the future, and there a thousand flowers can bloom.

Posted by: Fact Check | 2008-09-06 6:03:27 PM

Thanks for the pointer, Fact Check. I've updated the post.

And I agree with you wholeheartedly--expand the dial, and let the market sort it out. I love the unbearable hubris of a Commission that thinks it knows what will, and what won't, work in the radio market without letting the market sort this out. That takes an overwhelming amount of arrogance.

You have to wonder why these commissioners don't quit the CRTC and open up shop as a radio station. Since they know what will and what won't work, they could make a fortune. Unless, of course, they are as clueless as the rest of us.

Posted by: P.M. Jaworski | 2008-09-06 6:15:38 PM

Why not add four new stations at four different frequencies and let them all in?
Posted by: Fact Check | 6-Sep-08 6:03:27 PM

Gee why don't we do that and everybody will be happy. Well Fact Check, FM radio operates between 88 megahertz to 108 megahertz, and the current spectrum allocation doesn't allow 4 new FM stations.

Posted by: The Stig | 2008-09-06 6:28:45 PM

Whoa! In my area, there are two stations in the 88 range, one in the 89s, two in the 90s,two in the 91s one in the 92s--need I go on. The range of FM production is limited. Stig, your objection is unfounded. Open the airwaves and let the games commence.

Posted by: DML | 2008-09-06 9:58:48 PM

Whoa! In my area,
Posted by: DML | 6-Sep-08 9:58:48 PM

You live in Ottawa?

Posted by: The Stig | 2008-09-07 1:46:29 AM

...the reason the porn station was approved, it is more likely to succeed unfortunately as a business.

Posted by: tomax7 | 2008-09-07 2:57:32 PM

Certainly not Stig, I live in Canada not in Fantasyland.

Posted by: DML | 2008-09-07 9:53:53 PM

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