Media giants unite to block bid for black radio station in Toronto
By Ashante Infantry
April 4, 2011
A trio of media giants have banded together to stop the bid for Toronto’s second black-owned and operated radio station as it faces its final hurdle.
Rogers, Astral and CTV submitted a joint intervention to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, which is holding its final hearing Tuesday on Fitzroy Gordon’s 10-year quest to bring a Caribbean and African-focused radio station to the airwaves.
In their submission against Gordon’s Intercity Broadcast Network, the companies say they “strongly object to Industry Canada’s decision to approve the use of the 98.7 FM frequency and are very concerned with the lack of transparency and the factors used to arrive at this decision.”
The CRTC is poised to renew the broadcast licence Gordon was awarded in 2006 (on his second try), which lapsed when the CBC objected to the proposed station being four notches away from its Radio One at 99.1 FM.
Typically, a newcomer requires permission from the incumbent broadcaster to use an adjacent frequency. However, Gordon conducted a three-week technical study last summer and received a letter from the CRTC earlier this year saying that additional Industry Canada testing found no disturbance of the CBC signal.
Consequently, this hearing was viewed as a formality since Gordon has met all the CRTC’s terms.
Rogers, Astral and CTV said Industry Canada’s decision to approve a second adjacent radio frequency without the incumbent station’s consent “runs counter to long-standing radio spectrum policy and practices,” and suggests that “such shoehorning practices” will set a bad precedent for congested radio markets across the country.
In a separate submission, CBC maintained its objection over the 98.7 FM bid, and cited the “unprecedented’ and “exceptional approach to licensing by the CRTC.”
None of the corporate behemoths criticized the merits of Gordon’s bid; in fact, CBC said it was “supportive of any initiative that would contribute to increasing the diversity of voices and the reflection of cultural diversity within a market.”
The commission also received nearly 800 letters supporting Gordon’s licence. Many of them referenced CTV’s recent $27 million purchase of The New Flow 93.5 FM – the city’s first black radio station, which debuted in 2001 – and decried a lack of cultural representation on Toronto’s airwaves.