CKLN stays on the air

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Station originally slated to go off-air Feb. 12 gets stay of execution, Alexa Huffman reports

Ryerson-based community radio station CKLN was granted a stay on Friday, allowing it to remain on air for the time being.

The station will continue to broadcast until a federal judge determines whether the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission’s decision to revoke CKLN’s broadcasting license can be appealed by the radio station.

“Because of the submission of our materials to the court, the judge saw good reasons for the stay to be granted,” said Lauren Speers, chair of the legal defence committee at CKLN.

“The most important part was demonstrating irreparable harm from not having a stay granted,” Speers explained. “For us, it was if they pulled CKLN off the air before hearing the actual case, then it would not have an easy time getting its frequency back.”

CKLN also argued the process the CRTC used when deciding to shut down the radio station was a serious issue.

The CRTC decided to revoke CKLN’s licence after alleging the station did not meet CRTC regulations, such as filing financial returns correctly and on time.

The radio station said the CRTC didn’t use their usual procedure and brought issues from past dealings with CKLN into their decision to revoke the station’s license.

“Besides the CRTC, another point brought up was that if the radio station were to close down, we would lose our relationship with the students,” said Speers.

“We would also lose listenership, programmers and volunteers. We wouldn’t be able to do what we’ve been doing quite well which is representing marginalized, underrepresented, and misrepresented voices on an alternative media outlet.”

Ryerson president Sheldon Levy said CKLN has nothing to do with the university.

“I just separate the affairs of the university from the affairs of CKLN,” he said.

Ron Nelson, the CKLN board chair, is happy Ryerson students and the community have not lost this media outlet yet.

“We are thankful that we got more time to get it together,” said Nelson. “It looks like it could be April or later before it makes its way to the federal courts.”

According to Nelson, during the next few months the station will prepare all its evidence and put through all the promises it made to the CRTC.

Nelson also said CKLN will work toward changing the station so an incident like this does not happen again.

“People will have to start caring about what’s going on in the administrative and management levels in CKLN even if they are just a programmer,” said Nelson. “You can’t sit back anymore and let the station run itself or let a handful of people run the station for you.”

Nelson said it’s important to deliver good community radio. That means clear management, better publicity and marketing to promote CKLN, engaging the community by sponsoring and hosting events, and most importantly, student involvement.

“The future looks brighter for CKLN,” said Nelson. “By the end of the month, we are going to have a station manager. We have instituted a new set of bylaws that are a lot more clear.”

To run the radio station, CKLN uses finances from advertising and fundraising as well as money from a student levy at Ryerson. This year, the university collected $10.09 per student from the Ryerson Students’ Union, which in turn was re-distributed to CKLN.

CKLN will continue to get their allotted money as long as they keep broadcasting.

“The fee is established for CKLN only. I imagine if CKLN didn’t exist than the fee wouldn’t exist either,” said Toby Whitfield, the Ryerson Students’ Union president who also holds a seat on the CKLN board.

Levy said that if the station shut down, the money should go back to the students.

“If there is a fee that students pay for CKLN, if that fee is not required, then it should be returned to the students.”

Nelson hopes that discussion never takes place.

“We have come so close to losing something but never again,” he said.

Photo by: Lindsay Boeckl

Comments

  1. Quoting the article: “…According to Nelson, during the next few months the station will prepare all its evidence and put through all the promises it made to the CRTC…”

    One has to wonder why all the promises Nelson and company made to the CRTC in September 2009 weren’t “put through”. And why didn’t Nelson get more programmers involved in the “administrative and management level” over the past year and a half? Only close associates of Nelson and other Board members (including relatives) were allowed into the inner sanctum.

    The CRTC made its decision based on what CKLN had accomplished, or rather NOT accomplished. Can they really appeal a CRTC decision by saying to an appeals court judge that they pulled up their bootstraps AFTER they got a revocation order?

    Perhaps the only promise the CRTC wants kept at this point is that CKLN shut down its transmitter and cease broadcasting as per the license revocation order.

  2. “One has to wonder why all the promises Nelson and company made to the CRTC in September 2009 weren’t “put through”.”

    I think you know the answer to that. A vexatious lawsuit by a former Board member sucked up money that would have gone to hiring a Station Manager among other things.

    1. Exactly what i was going to reply…
      And this while trying to reconstruct a station with no paid staff left bankrupt by the previous short-lived (though not short enough!) coup regime.

      How anyone who purports to care about independent radio & media could applaud the CRTC taking away a community station’s license is pretty incredible. And in fact seems to indicate the pretense of that person’s stated concern.

  3. The CRTC’s decision was based on mistakes made by CKLN’s old board and management. Their decision also goes against their own policy which can be read here http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/archive/2001/c2001-444.htm

    When a Governing body goes against it’s own policy and an appeal is made based on that mistake the appeal is usually granted. It’s like an officer arresting someone and not reading them their rights. If the person who was arrested files an appeal based on the fact that they were not read their rights and can prove it they are ALWAYS granted their appeal and SET FREE!

  4. @Darm: The CKLN Board offered exactly the same reason you provided on this comment page at the CRTC hearing on December 8, 2010. The esteemed CRTC Commissioner Katz responded to the CKLN Board as follows :

    “…2972 THE CHAIRPERSON: But that quite frankly, with all due respect, has zero relevance in my mind. The requirement to operate a radio station is an obligation with rules and regulations.

    2973 The fact that shareholders, boards, have disputes go on all the time in businesses. The reality is the need for fulltime supervision and running of this thing is paramount if a licence is to be issued and kept in good standing.

    2974 Any employee you wanted to hire, all you had to do was walk into Mr. Whitfield’s office and say, is there money sitting there to pay me at some point in time? And I gather he would have said, there is an obligation by the university to collect that money and it is sitting there.

    2975 And so there is no stopping you or any other board from hiring those people that are required to meet the obligations notwithstanding the fact there may be shareholder disputes, board disputes or anything else going on. It is irrelevant to me, in my mind…”

  5. @Jim: I disagree with your assessment. First, the link you supplied concerns license renewals. CKLN was not up for a license renewal. They were called to this meeting in the fourth year of their seven year license. CKLN was informed several times over the last year that mandatory orders, suspension or revocation was on the table. Read the documents at the CRTC site and the transcripts for the May aborted hearing, and both days of the December sessions.
    If CKLN felt that any one of these outcomes demonstrated the CRTC stepping out of line in terms of protocol, surely they should have complained before they got to the hearings. CKLN did not.
    In any event, the Federal Court will assess CKLN’s submissions and decide whether an appeal is in order. It won’t be decided on an Eyeopener comments board, that’s for sure.

  6. When is someone going to step up and tell the real story about the goings on at CKLN. Y’all know what I’m talkin’ about, don’t you..

    1. It would take 6 full editions of the Eyeopener to tell “the real story”. That’s never going to happen. The only “real story” is whether CKLN lives or dies, at this point.

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