Parties interested in the proposed frequency swap between Vancouver Co-operative Radio and the Jim Pattison Broadcast Group Limited Partnership have until January 13 to submit their comments to federal regulators.
As of today (January 3), the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission had received 12 comments from eight individuals who are all supportive of the proposal.
If approved by the CRTC, the agreement will see the two groups exchange FM frequencies, with Vancouver Co-op Radio receiving about $1.1 million in financial subsidies from the Jim Pattison group.
According to a letter put out by the commercial-free community radio station on its website, there are no strings attached to the deal.
“It is purely a business transaction and our station is not beholden to any corporate or government entity as a result of this frequency exchange,” the station stated. “This transaction will allow us to focus on developing our station, our programming, and our web-broadcasting rather than spending the majority of our energy to barely keep our doors open.”
It also claimed that “this move of course means we will now be even further to the left.”
The Jim Pattison-owned CKPK-FM, known as the Peak, currently broadcasts at the 100.5 FM frequency from a transmitter site on the Terasen Gas tower on Mount Seymour in the District of North Vancouver.
Co-op Radio owns and operates CFRO-FM. It broadcasts at 102.7 FM from a transmitter site on a Mount Seymour tower owned by Corus Premium Television Limited.
An agreement signed by the two parties on August 9, 2010, laid out what it will cost the Jim Pattison group to effect the frequency switch.
In addition to completing the technical brief for the frequency exchange, it will provide Co-op Radio with the resources to move from its Corus tower transmission site to the Terasen Gas tower.
Co-op Radio will also receive “new equipment consisting of a complete new 7kw stereo transmitter, stl links, power back-up, back-up transmitter, and the costs of installation of the equipment”.
The Jim Pattison group will likewise fund Co-op Radio’s rental and electricity costs on the Terasen Gas tower for $38,400 annually for a period of five years when the latter commences broadcasting on the 100.5 FM frequency.
It will also provide the community radio station $125,000 in annual operating funds for a period of five years.
In addition to these, Co-op Radio will receive outdoor advertising valued at $300,000 over the same period of time.
In an October 25, 2010, letter to CRTC, the president of the Jim Pattison Broadcast Group Limited Partnership explained how the frequency swap will serve the public interest.
Quoting from a previous brief filed by the company, Rick Arnish wrote that the deal will “ensure the survival of Co-op Radio in Vancouver by providing technical, financial and marketing support for a period of five years from the date of approval”.
“The move will enable full usage of the capability of the 102.7 signal which is presently not fully utilized by Co-op Radio as Co-op Radio does not have the resources to invest in equipment to increase the power of the station,” Arnish stated. “The transfer of that frequency to the JPBG which has the resources to increase the power will more effectively utilize that spectrum within the Canadian Broadcasting System.”