by Amanda-Marie Quintino
Campus radio station CKLN is getting bad vibes from a recent government decision that will allow satellite radio in Canada.
News director Kristin Schwartz says satellite radio will flood the Canadian market with American programming, making it difficult for local radio stations that promote Canadian talent to compete.
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission issued licences to Sirius Canada and Canadian Satellite Radio — both have an American partner — provided the companies give priority to Canadian content and French language programs. Schwartz predicts neither will be done.
“We feel that locally produced, community-based content is important and valuable,” says Schwartz. “All that can be concluded from this decision is that fostering diverse Canadian perspectives is just not a priority for (government).”
The licenses call for eight new Canadian channels and 72 American channels, leaving little space on air for the local stations that deliver Canadian music and talk programming, says Schwartz.
“We don’t mind competing with other people who are doing something culturally significant to our country, but we do mind when we’re being robbed of a voice and being taken over by American perspectives,” she says.
While CKLN remains confident the ruling will not interfere with its audience base because of its niche marketing, staff are concerned about the negative impact on local Canadian radio stations abroad.
“Overall, I think it’s a terrible, terrible thing for us,” Schwartz says. “It would’ve been a lot better if the authorities would’ve recognized homegrown talent instead of just jumping at the chance to bring more mainstream American culture into people’s homes.”