Reditorial: CRTC climbs “The Peak”, makes a mess

Vancouver is going to have a completely new landscape on the radio dial. In recent days the CRTC has come down with some approvals of requests made to the commission in the past six months. One of the big changes will be The Peak, Jim Pattison‘s new commercial FM station in Vancouver at 100.5 to replace AM station CKBD. Yes, this will mean the end of 600AM. The notice does not mention the current 600AM staff and their future. Nor does it state anywhere whether or not CKBD can be sold to a new owner.

Let me quote the announcement:

“Pattison’s Triple A music format will be targeted to the 25 to 49 demographic. Of the musical selections, 60% will be recent and new (released within the last two years) and 40% will be gold-based music from the 1980’s and 1990’s and the earlier years of the 2000’s. Pattison confirmed that the station will not air any hits, as defined by the Commission in Public Notice 1997-42.

The core of the music offering will be rock but the overall sound will be softer and more acoustic-based in nature. In accordance with its commitment, Pattison will be obligated, by condition of licence, to offer a minimum of 40% Canadian content in category 2 (popular) music aired both weekly and Monday to Friday between 6:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. Of that 40% content, 10% will be new and emerging artists.”

Other highlights include:

“spoken word programming that previews a variety of arts events and a multicultural program highlighting both distinctiveness and connected viewpoints among the Lower Mainland’s ethnic communities. Financially the company pledged $3 million to Aboriginal Voices Radio Inc. (AVR), over seven consecutive broadcast years, upon commencement of operations.”

And there were many other financial contributions to other groups and organizations. Why is the commitment to multicultural programming so damn important? On both the television and radio dials we have ample multicultural programming. Why more? Why a transfer of income from the station’s revenues to Aboriginal Voices Radio? The answer is obvious. To get a radio or television licence in Canada you have to fit your proposal into FEDTHINK — the mindset of the Ottawa bureaucracy which really does run this country.

FEDTHINK includes the above, and the more your application reflects their thinking, the more successful your application will be. Don’t forget to include something in your application for every political lobby, environmental group, animal rights group, and so on. If you want to improve your chances of winning a licence this is the road you must travel. What really gets into my gut and begins to ferment is the audacity of a bureaucratic commission that dictates programming on radio and television. These privileges are usually reserved for dictators and tyrannical governments.

Notice in Pattison’s commitment a reference to a percentage of all music played on the station to be new and emerging artists. When I first heard about this development late last year I almost had a fit. What this means is if an artist has not been able to make it because of many factors (like maybe they’re just bad) you have to play it anyway. I guess the commission assumes that if second rate material that has been put out there is forced on the airwaves this will make the music product acceptable. Amazing logic. And at a time when more and more people are abandoning radio, this is the perfect time to force feed the public inferior product.

The lobbying here came from the same group that gave you a surcharge on all the blank CD’s you buy whether you download music or not. Why do we Canadians accept the marketing board philosophy for the arts? I am saddened by all this, but what the hell… most Canadians let it happen and say nothing. This is true with just about everything in this country — from the Young Offenders Act to our supposed miracle health system. We sit back and take it. We never complain and we deserve the government we get.

Many will come out of the woodwork with comments, and I already know who you are. You are the little robots that like to have your life (and mine) controlled from those wonderful people in Ottawa who have all the power to make you do their bidding and they answer to no one. Some who oppose these views already have their hands in the public trough. I wish you well.

Other changes coming include more new radio stations in our area and CBC Radio 690 moving to the FM dial. That’s the next Reditorial.

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