Letter of Complaint: CRTC - Hands Off CKLN FM!

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Letter of Complaint: CRTC - Hands Off CKLN FM!

Letter from Davis Mirza & Rhonda Costas: Save CKLN 88.1 FM {please post}

Dear Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission,

We believe your recent decision to revoke the license of Ryerson University radio station CKLN FM 88.1 is heavy-handed and unreasonably punitive. As Ryerson University students, who both listen to and financially support CKLN FM, your decision to revoke its radio license is not only wrong but sets a dangerous precedent... silencing the "spirit of the underground" smacks of state censorship! There are six excellent reasons why CKLN FM should remain on the air: (read below)

1.Over 5000 people - including ourselves - have signed an on-line petition [Click:http://www.petitiononline.com/ckln881/petition.html] to keep CKLN on the air stating, "CKLN is vital to our community, and without its presence on air we lose not only a rich history of our city, but future opportunities and culture - which ultimately enriches our city and nation, culturally and monetarily. While it is true that former mismanagement affected it's ability to broadcast at certain points in recent history, we, the listening audience, is confident that the current administration and board is able to handle the tasks at hand. That is, to fulfill their duties to the listeners and the CRTC without failing to live up to the standards set before them." The confidence, trust and loyalty CKLN listeners have in this college radio station has been garnered over CKLN's 27 year history... something rarely found in commercial radio markets where format changes and ownership takeovers are the norm.

2. CKLN promotes education and multiculturalism. After listening to CKLN FM for so many years, we were both so impressed with Ryerson University's diverse academic and cultural programming,  that we decided to enroll in Ryerson University, where I completed my undergraduate degree - and where my ancillory fees directly funded the campus radio. My partner, has just enrolled in the Computer Science program at Ryerson, and financially supports and faithfully listen's to her university's radio station. Currently, CKLN is celebrating Black History/Liberation Month with daily programming dedicated to the African dispora...by revoking CKLN's license, the CRTC is denying five million Torontonians (and a global on-line audience) the opportunity to participate in heritage celebrations that are a guaranteed right in the Canadian Constitution, wherein section 27 "officially recognized" multiculturalism as a Canadian value . The question begs to be asked: why would the CRTC - a federally funded agency, whose mandate it is to uphold the constitutional values of Canadian multiculturalism - threaten to black-out programming during Black History Month by shutting down the CKLN FM on February 12th. (...Bob Marley would be rolling in his grave at such state hypocrisy!) Nevermind, the kind of outcry from Jewish Canadians if a state-sponsored media black-out had silenced recent Holocaust commemorations or similarly, the homosexual community's PRIDE radio station (103.9 FM) silenced during June's Pride Day Celebrations. Why should the shocking cancellation of Black History Month programming on Toronto airwaves warrant any less condemnation?

3. As a recent supporter of CKLN's 2010 FundFEST campaign  - volunteers successfully fundraised over $88,000 in pledges in 10 days - the financial health and morale of the station has never been better...healthy enough to regain its broadcast license or perhaps, apply for a new license to keep it on the air. This may be why CRTC Commissioner Louise Poirier - in her dissenting opinion - was so "firmly opposed" to revoking CKLN's license, stating that the station "which has served its community with credibility and passion since 1983"   had recently, "... repaid its outstanding debt... in addition to raising several tens of thousands of dollars at the end of 2010..." which ultimately demonstrated "... the community’s commitment to this station." We absolutely agree with Ms. Poirier's apt conclusion that the CRTC decision to revoke CKLN's radio licence is "premature, disproportionate and inequitable." [Click: http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/archive/2011/2011-56.htm]

4. As a college community radio station, CKLN promotes Canadian culture first and foremost. Drake, Kardinal Offishall, K'naan, Maestro Fresh Wes, Shad, Chromeo, Divine Brown, Julie Black, Keshia Chante, Sarah McLachlan, Sarah Harmer, Neil Young, Daniel Lanois, Little Hawk, Tokyo Police Club, Deadmou5, Arcade Fire, Broken Social Scene, Metric, Feist, Peaches, Crystal Castles, Nelly Furtado, KD Lang and Jeff Healey (RIP) are now household names [Click: http://junoawards.ca/2011-juno-award-nominees/#artist_of_the_year], and because of CKLN FM's college format dedicated to playing Canadian independent artists first (versus over-hyped US acts) that all these artist's got a chance to be heard by a hungry Canadian listening audience...now, a hungry global audience. Without CKLN promoting Canadian artists, the CRTC is single-handedly extinguishing the flame of a Canadian musical renaissance that has its heart and soul situated in college community radio stations. Many of these Canadian artists wouldn't be at the Juno's (never mind the Grammys!) if it wasn't for CKLN's incessant promotion of Canadian content on its college airwaves!!

5. As a Ryerson University graduate in Disability Studies, silencing student voices (especially disability activists and artists) is one of the more punitive aspects of CRTC's decision against the 100,000 strong student body. Ryerson students voted overwhelmingly to  fund CKLN's move from its inaccessibly cramped basement studio to its new home - accessibly located in the new Student Campus Centre. With access to the airwaves, students, staff and volunteers using wheelchairs, walkers, sign language interpreters and seeing-eye dogs are treated with dignity, achieving greater visibility - both academically and culturally - on our campus airwaves. The CRTC is guided by the Broadcasting Act in supervising and supporting equitably all components of the broadcasting system - private, public, community and campus - to provide Canadians with the greatest possible programming variety. By shutting down the station on February 12th, 2011 the CRTC will silence a vibrant civil rights movement that has struggled against institutionalization and challenged the historically demeaning language ("moron", "imbecile", "idiot", "psycho", "loonie", "retard") of ableist radio programmers. Moreover, CKLN has consistently upheld the Canadian Broadcasting Act by prohibiting the proliferation "of any abusive comment... that, when taken in context, tends to or is likely to expose an individual or group or class of individuals to hatred or contempt on the basis of... mental or physical disability" [http://laws.justice.gc.ca/eng/SOR-97-555/page-2.html#anchorbo-ga:l_1-gb:s_5]. If the CRTC was serious about upholding Canada's broadcast laws, it would immediately refrain from punishing the messenger and advocate for increasing disability culture on our campus airwaves ...even if the DJ has no voice! 

6. As an elementary school teacher focusing on media literacy, my Grade 2 students analyze various media to find out "how the conventions and techniques associated with them are used to create meaning." [Click:http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/curriculum/elementary/language18currb.pdf] Critiquing our local airwaves (college versus mainstream radio programming) allows young learners to ask relevant questions: "Why are their no commercials on CKLN FM compared to KISS FM or Q107?" or "What's better -  radio or television?" If CRTC is in the business of regulating Canadian cultural content, isn't your responsibility also to uphold democratic tenets that promote critical media study by upholding freedom of expression laws. Censoring CKLN FM from Canadian airwaves deprives many students of an alternative voice that is uniquely urban, multiculturally diverse and proudly independent. The young minds that listen to radio need more Canadian media awareness not less of it...if our students are to flourish in the 21st Century, media and their regulators need to sustain our indie radio stations and not drive them further underground (Sir, what's pirate radio?") particularly, when every Grade 2 student can access CKLN on the Internet! ("Teacher, does the CRTC regulate cyberspace, too?")

To conclude, CKLN has served its community with credibility and passion for 27 years and has always had its license renewed for full terms (despite the 2009 shutdown). Revoking CKLN-FM’s license at this time creates a precedent that we object to --its harsh and disproportionate to the fault. Even Commissioner Louise Poirier said as much when she declared, "[g]iven the Commission’s mandate to foster the vitality of our broadcasting system, a constructive rather than a coercive approach would have been more appropriate in this case." [Click: http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/archive/2011/2011-56.htm] As radio listeners, we only ask for fair treatment - why couldn't the CRTC issue a mandatory order accompanied by close monitoring of CKLN FM instead of punitively kicking it off the air? Better yet CRTC, just re-issue CKLN FM a new license and avoid costly court challenges that Canadian taxpayers neither want nor can afford. Keep CKLN FM 88.1 on the air...long live the spirit of independent college radio!
Davis Mirza & Rhonda Costas
Toronto, CANADA
Dated: Feb. 11th, 2011.

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