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