An appeal by the Calgary ethnic radio stations that have been fighting a recent broadcast licensing decision has been denied by the federal government. Unison Media, Punjabi World Network Ltd., and non-profit organization Diversified Society of Alberta had been seeking a reversal of the May ruling by the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission that saw a commercial station and a Vancouver-based ethnic broadcaster beat out a pool of nine other applicants seeking permission to launch new radio stations in Calgary.
On Wednesday, August 22, 2012, the applicants found out their appeal had been denied by the Governor in Council, on recommendation of the Minister of Canadian Heritage. No reasons were provided, other than that the original CRTC decision had not been found to deviate from the objectives of Canadian broadcasting policy.
We’re still trying to digest the news,” said Apar Kahlon, vice-president of operations for Unison Media. “We don’t see a path forward at this point, honesty.
Unison Media and Punjabi World Network both offer news, talk, and music programming to Calgary’s growing South Asian community. However, their stations are not available on a regular radio frequency — listeners must purchase a special radio to tune in.
Both ethnic broadcasters — as well as the Diversified Society of Alberta, which does not yet offer radio programming but hoped to start a non-profit community station — were excited about the possibility of obtaining a mainstream radio frequency.
Instead, the CRTC awarded the coveted 95.3 MHz frequency to the Jim Pattison Broadcast group. Pattison was awarded one of two licences for 95.3 THE PEAK Calgary, will be a music intensive Adult Album Alternative (AAA) format targeting female listeners from 25 to 49 years of age. The station will have a primary focus on new and emerging artists and a secondary focus on alternative music from the last decade (2000-2010). Local artists such as Cumako, Sydney York, The Dudes, Michael Bernard Fitzgerald, Braids and Zerbin will receive airplay, along with artists Said the Whale, Dan Mangan, Current Swell, Acres of Lions, Mother Mother, The Matinée, Hey Rosetta and Hey Ocean.
And though in its written decision, the CRTC stated the Calgary market is ready for an ethnic station on the dial, it awarded the other station, 106.7 FM to Vancouver-based Multicultural Broadcasting Corporation rather than one of the local ethnic applicants.
Both new stations are set to launch in Calgary sometime next year.