Co-op radio ordered to justify itself

Vancouver Co-operative Radio, CFRO, 102.7FM, must appear at a public hearing next month if it wants to retain its broadcasting licence. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission will hold the hearing on February 26 at the Empire Landmark Hotel.

In a December 29 e-mail sent to Co-op radio programmers, program coordinator Leela Chinniah wrote that the CRTC did a "spot check" last year. The federal broadcast regulator concluded that Co-op radio, which relies on more than 350 volunteer programmers, was "low on our Canadian content", according to Chinniah's e-mail.

Co-op radio is located at 110–360 Columbia Street, in the Downtown Eastside. It broadcasts a variety of locally produced arts and music programs, as well as shows in more than a dozen languages. The Downtown Eastside station also carries many alternative programs not heard anywhere else in Greater Vancouver, including Voice of Palestine, Wake Up With Co-Op!, Democracy Now!, and The Lesbian Show.

In 2004, the CRTC renewed Co-op radio's licence for a four-year term rather than the maximum seven ­-year term after finding that it had kept incomplete logger tapes for the week of November 17 to 23, 2002.

The CRTC ordered Co-op radio to appear at next month's hearing after the regulator calculated that Co-op radio broadcast 32.8 percent Canadian content in the category of "general music" during the week November 5 to 11, 2006. The station is required to broadcast 35 percent Canadian content in this category.

In documents filed with the CRTC, Co-op radio stated that regular jazz, blues, world beat, and gospel music wasn't played on November 11, 2006, which may have been due to the Remembrance Day weekend. A volunteer played general music instead, according to the station.

"It is unfortunate that the Commission's resources only allowed for one spot check during our 4-year license term," the station stated to the CRTC in one document. "As such, the week that was chosen for the spot check did not accurately reflect our regular programming."

The station also claimed that the regulator did not consider "spoken word poetry pieces" and "sound art pieces" to be Canadian content even though they were "entirely Canadian productions".

"And, since this means because we have been in contravention of the Radio Regulations for 2 consecutive license terms, the CRTC is asking that we appear for a public hearing this time (usually license renewals happen through paper correspondence only)," Chinniah wrote in her e-mail to programmers. "This is somewhat of a big deal. It will require the station to put more resources into the license renewal process."

She urged recipients of the e-mail to contact four individuals or organizations that support Co-op radio's programming to get them to file written interventions with the CRTC before its January 23 deadline.

Co-op radio informed the CRTC in one document that less than 10 percent of its programming focuses on the category of "general music". Almost half (47.5 percent) of its airtime is allocated to locally produced spoken-word programming. Another 37 percent is music that doesn't fall into the CRTC category of "general music".

"So there is a disproportionate amount of focus on the Canadian Content of this relatively small portion of our programming," the station stated.

Co-op radio has a budget of less than $200,000 and employs five part-time staff, according to its filings with the CRTC.




Jan 3, 2008 at 10:06am

During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.
George Orwell

I was wondering when the elites of the City and province would try to close down co-op radio, the truth stings. The electronic media doesn't like rogues who dare tell the truth, nor do they like independents. Co-op radio is subversive and independent. The powers that be are deathly afraid of subversives and free speech and democracy and free will.

Adiós free speech in Canada.

All hail Harper; All hail Campbell; All hail Big Brother!


May 9, 2010 at 6:54pm

The article states that "the regulator did not consider 'spoken word poetry pieces' and 'sound art pieces' to be Canadian content even though they were 'entirely Canadian productions'." How could that even be possible? Poetry written by a Canadian Poet in Canada and Sound Art by Canadian Artists also in Canada is indisputably Canadian content. I don't see how Poetry or Sound Art falls under any different scrutiny than say a Leonard Cohen or Sarah McLachlan song? Musicians like these two who write their own music are both Poets and Sound Artists. How is the CRTC making a distinction between music, sound art and poetry and why would they want to?
Unless of course what "Grumpy" says is true...

Mark Bignell

May 7, 2012 at 1:53pm

At the time this happened, there were a couple of shows that were very low on Canadian Content, which is very sad for a station like Co-op that's suppost to include Canadian talent in their mandate. I don't have the problem of being low on Canadian Content, as I do a show about local/indie music called Radio Bandcouver-Weds 3:30-5pm. In recent years, I have included music that isn't Canadian that isn't being played on the commercial stations either. But I'm still at ,the very least, 75-80% CanCon. Well above the 40% that's necessary. Co-op needs to be more careful in the future not to let Canadian content slide, and not forget about supporting Canadian artists. I ,for one, haven't forgotten that fact.


May 7, 2012 at 2:46pm

Asking Co-op radio to justify itself?

Yet electing governments to lead with honesty and integrity seems to be nothing but futile.

Seems to me the 1% smell smoke, and I'm betting it's their hob-knobbing BBQ's.

Funny that.


May 7, 2012 at 4:34pm

"the regulator calculated that Co-op radio broadcast 32.8 percent Canadian content in the category of "general music" during the week November 5 to 11, 2006. The station is required to broadcast 35 percent"

I feel so safe and warm now, knowing the CRTC is heroically protecting me from hearing music from other parts of the world.

Thank god our big daddy government is around to force radio stations to cram endlessly depressing cliche Sarah McLachlan crap into our ears.

KiDDAA Magazine

May 7, 2012 at 11:03pm

I have listened to Co op radio and it has some good stuff on there. The regular media is deceitful and warmongering. The fear caused by the media is unrelenting. Every story like todays on e CBC today about a non existent Iranian nuke is meant to confuse the viewer. Much like the lead up to war in Iraq the mainstream media let the charge. For all those who dont watch news or own TVs you are doing yourself a service. The media has stooped to the lowest levels of lying, entertainment and alarming the public.
Thankfully Georgia Straigh, The Guardian, and many sites on the Internet, including KiDDAA Magazine are changing that story. Truth it sells and its real.

R U Kiddingme

May 8, 2012 at 4:08pm

Well, if the content is so Canadian, I guess then that this hearing will be extremely easy to pass, won't it?

How very unfortunate that the spot check didn't occur during a time that the station was caught complying with the requirements for its licence. That would have been more convenient for everyone, don't you think.


May 8, 2012 at 6:32pm

Does anyone still listen to radio over the air? I think co-op could easily survive as an internet-only station and shake off the CRTC. A move like that would make some room on the dial for another completely useless station that nobody listens to.