CRTC acts to ensure that Aboriginal radio listeners in several urban communities are better served
June 25, 2015 – Ottawa–Gatineau — The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) issued a decision today to help improve radio service for urban Aboriginal listeners.
The CRTC revokes the broadcasting licences of Aboriginal Voices Radio (AVR), which operated stations in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Ottawa under radio call sign CKAV.
AVR has held these licences since the early 2000s. Since then, at each renewal, the CRTC has found numerous, repeated and serious instances of non-compliance with several sections of the Radio Regulations and with conditions of licence.
These non-compliances have accumulated over the years, despite the CRTC’s flexibility and measures taken. For example, several short-term licence renewals were granted to give AVR the opportunity to rectify the situation.
Furthermore, it is clear that over the years, AVR has not honoured its commitments as set out in its original applications and, as a result, has not fulfilled its mandate to reflect the distinctive place of the Aboriginal community in Canadian society. For example, the Ottawa station has not broadcast anything since fall 2014; as such that market has not been receiving the music and spoken word programming that ought to have been offered by AVR.
Also contrary to its commitments, AVR was not providing the local programming or news required and relevant to the Aboriginal communities in the other four urban centers.
On May 13, 2015, AVR appeared before the CRTC to explain why the Commission should not suspend or revoke its licences. AVR failed to demonstrate its ability to rectify or resolve its numerous instances of non-compliance. Furthermore, AVR acknowledged in the hearing that its instances of non-compliance were serious, and indicated that it accepted responsibility for them. It could not commit to re-establishing the compliance of its stations before the end of the current licence term (August 31, 2015). It is important to note that many interveners said that AVR was not adequately serving the Aboriginal listeners in the communities targeted by these stations.
Serving urban Aboriginal communities
The CRTC believes that the presence of Aboriginal services in markets where AVR held licences would benefit those urban communities and complement existing services. Accordingly, in the near future, the CRTC will issue a call for applications for the operation of the frequencies that will become available as a result of this decision. Proposals by services looking to serve Aboriginal communities will receive priority.
- The CRTC takes non-compliance with the Radio Regulations and with conditions of licence seriously.
- The CRTC has revoked the broadcasting licences of Aboriginal Voices Radio (AVR), which operated stations in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Ottawa under radio call sign CKAV.
- AVR was found in non-compliance each of the four times it appeared before the CRTC to renew its licences over the past 15 years.
- AVR did not fulfil its commitments and mandate, which was to reflect the distinctive place of the Aboriginal community in Canadian society.
- In the near future, the CRTC will issue a call for applications for the operation of the frequencies that will become available as a result of this decision.
- The CRTC will give priority to proposals for services that will serve Aboriginal communities.
“Having a broadcasting licence in Canada is a privilege, and having a mandate to serve Aboriginal communities is particularly significant. The CRTC notes with regret that AVR has been in non-compliance since its beginning, and has not fulfilled its commitments or the specific mandate given to it. AVR let its listeners down by failing to inform them on issues important to them. We find ourselves in an unfortunate situation where licence revocation is not only necessary; it is the only option.
The CRTC firmly believes that Aboriginal communities in Canada must have access to radio stations that address their realities and keep them informed of events that impact them. For that reason, we will be issuing a call for licence applications as soon as possible. We will open the door and invite applicants to submit projects aiming to serve and inform these urban Aboriginal communities – services that we hope will be by, for and about the Aboriginal communities.
It is also important to emphasize that all Canadian broadcasters are responsible for giving the appropriate attention to such issues as missing Aboriginal women, land claims and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. These topics not only affect Aboriginal communities, but all Canadians.”
Jean-Pierre Blais, CRTC Chairman