Vancouver Co-op Radio’s proposed frequency swap nears CRTC comment deadline

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.”



m. caron

Jan 3, 2011 at 2:54pm

could it be ...


Jan 3, 2011 at 5:50pm

yea, out of the goodness of mr. grinche's heart. I'm sure that bilderberger, Jim Pattison got rich by giving anti establishment and independent media free stuff without getting anything in return!

he doesn't have a history of censoring adbusters from his billboards or anything..


Jan 4, 2011 at 11:25am

The application documents provided on the CRTC website under file #2010-928 states that if the CRTC approves of the deal the Jim Pattison Broadcast Group (JPBG) will want to increase the power of the 102.7FM frequency from 2,700 watts to a max of 100,000 watts!!! This will allow Pattison to reach a theoretical audience of 2.9 million people.

The frequency 102.7FM was obtained by Coop Radio more than 35 years ago when the FM bandwidth was still wide open with little frequency overlap or interference from other stations. Coop Radio's 102.7 is one that allows for a substantial increase in power unlike Pattison's 100.5FM which currently receives overlap or interference from its Victoria sister station 100.3FM and whose signal is blocked by the many tall building towers making reception in the downtown area problematic.

102.7FM at present can be tuned in if you live on the central east coast of Vancouver Island, Chilliwack and Bellingham Wa.

102.7FM is a valuable commodity for those in the commercial radio business especially if you can significantly boost the power and reach hundreds of thousands more of us.

A broader and larger potential audience obtained by increasing the power of the 102.7 transmitter could mean the ability to charge more for advertising.

When two parties enter an agreement it usually means that both parties benefit. Both Coop Radio and Pattison will benefit from the deal and hopefully it will not mean that Coop Radio's broadcast reach isn't diminished.

In Pattison's case any cash or materials distributed to Coop Radio will be tax deductible (legitimate business expense). It will get a more powerful radio station that will allow it to compete with the other big powerful FM stations in the area.

The benefit for the cash starved Coop Radio will be the compensation package provided by the Pattison Broadcast Group which includes technical equipment, advertising space and cash over a five year period totalling $1,437,000. ($1.43 million).

Pattison received his licence for 100.5FM in 2008 and part of the licencing deal between Pattison and the CRTC was the requirement to contribute $12 million over 7 years of broadcasting as part of their Canadian Content Development (CCD) obligations (CRTC decision 2008-17)

There must be money to be made in the radio business these days as Pattison will be committed to contribute to both the CRTC's CCD and Coop Radio to the tune of $13.5 million.

Negotiations have been going on, according to Coop Radio, for the last two years with only its Board of Directors and staff knowing.

The CRTC published the applications for public consumption on December 9, 2010 even though the applicants submitted their applications on July 2, 2010. Coop Radio held its annual general meeting on November 21, 2010 and no mention of the pending deal was on the agenda or mentioned to those in attendance.

Coop Radio states that the reason for keeping its cooperative membership in the dark for so long was due to a non-disclosure clause signed by its staff and directors and the Jim Pattison Broadcast Group.

The 2nd Principal of a cooperative according to the International Cooperative Association states:

Co-operatives are democratic organisations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting their policies and making decisions. Men and women serving as elected representatives are accountable to the membership.

Members of the station will have an opportunity to ask questions and receive information at a meeting scheduled at the station on Columbia Avenue and Hastings in Vancouver this Saturday, January 8th, 12 noon.

Lori Baker

Jan 28, 2011 at 3:23pm

previously volunteered at this station...... apparently "bandwith" is the new "black gold", and the keeping the dealmaking secret from members requirement of deal smells bad to me.......something is missing in the talk about all this.....what is it?