CRTC hearing to decide fate of troubled Parrsboro radio station

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PRS photo of cub scouts submitted as part of its licence application

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has scheduled a hearing on September 7th in Gatineau, Quebec to consider a licence renewal application for CICR-FM, the 50-watt community radio station operated by the Parrsboro Radio Society (PRS).

Since the station’s short-term licence is set to expire on August 31st, the CRTC has granted a one-year extension. But it has also warned that the extension will not affect how the Commission deals with the station’s failure to abide by a variety of CRTC regulations.

When the CRTC issued a short-term, 20-month licence renewal in 2016, it warned PRS to start filing complete financial reports as well as requested program logs, tapes and other information. In its latest notice, the Commission complains that PRS does not appear to have complied with its regulations for the second consecutive licence term.

“Given this recurrence of non-compliance and the apparent lack of cooperation by the licensee following repeated correspondence, the Commission has concerns regarding the licensee’s ability and commitment to operate the station in a compliant manner,” the notice says.

At its hearing in September, the CRTC could give the PRS more time to comply with the regulations or it might decide to revoke the licence altogether.

CRTC questions

PRS documents filed on the CRTC website show that board members have had difficulties answering CRTC questions and complying with its requests.

A document filed by board member Alain Couture on March 30th shows, for example, that the PRS had not been able to comply with CRTC logging procedures and had not produced the Volunteer Orientation Booklet it had promised in December 2015.

Couture notes that the PRS treasurer had died and the program director had quit leaving the board of directors unable to comply fully with CRTC requests.

When asked to comment on the possibility that the CRTC may decide not to renew CICR’s broadcasting licence, Couture responds that the station is the only one in the area.

“Loss of our licence would remove not only the music component to the communities but an Emergency Measures information service,” he adds.

“Our communities consist of a more mature audience and as such so do our volunteers,” Couture notes.

“While we continue our efforts to attract the younger generation, our main audience remains in the more mature category. As such our ability to maintain and fulfill all the requirements of the regulations in a timely manner remains our challenge but with the measures our board is/has put in place and the full understanding and cooperation of our volunteers will enable us to meet this requirement very very shortly.”

To read Couture’s full response to the CRTC, click here.

CICR ad revenue slipping

A second photo PRS submitted in its licence renewal application

PRS financial reports that appear on the CRTC website claim that advertising is CICR’s only source of revenue.

In 2013-14, ad revenues were $23,059.33; in 2014-15, ad revenues slipped to $18,847.00 and in 2015-16, they were down again to $16,773.00, a drop over the three year period of $6,286.33 or about 27 per cent.

Thanks to larger ad sales in the first year, revenue exceeded expenses, but only by $35.48. In the second and third years, expenses exceeded revenue by $558.23 and $823.04.

Surprisingly, there is no mention of bingo revenues or expenses and no mention of the thousands PRS owes to a big law firm in Truro.

The rent PRS paid to landlord and station manager Ross Robinson rose over the period from $4,500 ($375 per month) in 2013-14 to $5,400 ($450 per month) in 2014-15 and to $5,850 ($487.50 per month) in 2015-16.

To read the PRS financial reports, click here.

About Bruce Wark

Bruce Wark is a freelance journalist and retired journalism professor who lives in Sackville, New Brunswick, Canada. He taught the history and ethics of journalism at the University of King's College in Halifax, Nova Scotia for 15 years. Before that, he worked for 19 years at CBC Radio news serving as a producer in charge of such network programs as World at Six, World Report and The House. He also produced Media File, a national program that looked critically at the performance of the news media. Along the way, Wark also worked as CBC Radio's legislative reporter in Ontario and as its National Reporter in Canada's Maritime provinces.
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2 Responses to

CRTC hearing to decide fate of troubled Parrsboro radio station

  1. If the CRTC pulls the license for CICR, will they be able to re-apply? Or, would perhaps a new owner/operator be considered by both the current board, and CRTC?

  2. If CRTC pulls the license for the Parrsboro radio station then the ONLY way to get another or similar radio station back would be to apply from new…CRTC application and supporting technical brief from scratch and would be judged as of 2017 but would take at least a year to be considered for approval or denial and would need to have a couple of thousand dollars seed money and possibly be able to acquire the current equipment but would need to be operated and governed by a body OTHER than the current license holder. I am a broadcast engineer and have worked in startup of 4 other Nova Scotia local community radio stations…none of which had these issues. I also, along with my late wife, Juanita from Parrsboro, was one of the four original founders of PRS. A real shame that community in-fighting from the beginning will likely see to it that it will not be sustainable in it’s present form.
    -Gordon Heffler (Halifax)

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