Aboriginal Voices Radio, CRTC
Aboriginal Voices Radio, CRTC

Aboriginal Radio Network Fighting CRTC: Stays On Air

Canadian radio network Voices Radio — formerly Aboriginal Voices Radio (AVR) — has won a last minute reprieve after it was ordered off the air by the CRTC effective, Saturday, July 25th.

A last minute intervention by the Attorney General of Canada has stayed the order allowing the network with stations in Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver to appeal the broadcast regulator's decision.

According to the Broadcasting Act, a person may appeal a CRTC decision on a question of law or jurisdiction.

AVR is arguing that shutting down the network would do irreparable harm and unjustly affect the livelihoods of people working with it. It also contends that the revocation was based to regulatory violations attributable to its Ottawa radio station and that the violations of one station in the network aren't justifiable cause for revoking the network's licenses.

The network's administrative office is located in Ohsweken, Ontario, on the Six Nations Indian reserve near Brantford. The stations' music programming consists mainly of adult contemporary music (including both mainstream and indigenous artists), along with specialty programs focusing on aboriginal-oriented content.

According to broadcast consultant Iain Grant, writing on the Sowny Radio Board, the broadcast regulator could have been more conciliatory in its dealing with the AVR.

"I had a bit to do with this stuff, and I can assure you they were completely aware Ottawa was off the air, from the second week. Bell disconnected the broadcast lines between the playout server and the transmitter, and there was a huge balance owing to re-connect, and the money just wasn't there. The drive and passion were always there, the money to execute it all couldn't be found.

A group of veteran broadcasters, myself included, were recruited late last year to help relaunch, bring the stations back into compliance, and work with AVR to come up with mainstream programming, advertising and marketing initiatives to help the stations at least break even, while still respecting the original cultural mandate of the format. We all did this on a voluntary basis since we understood the passion and need for this format, yet also what it would take for the format to be financially viable.   We executed a 'singer and songwriter' format where up to 20% of the daily content being aired was indigenous, 38% was Cancon, yet it fit into the format well enough that it just felt like part of the programming.

By the end, there was a reasonable chunk of money coming in from hourly sponsorships. Especially in Vancouver, Edmonton and Toronto (mainly Toronto). There was an agency selling and they were doing a great job. Suppliers had started to get (re)paid and things were in gear to bring the stations back into compliance, but the money situation still needed a lot of work. It had started to come in, and compliances were starting to be met. It was all boots on the ground retail stuff, but with the new format, the station was starting to appear in offices all over the place. We were in a position where we were ready to start the local shows, newscasts and refined the spoken word stuff.

A lot of water had passed under the bridge since early 2014 when the tapes were requested, and September 2014 when our group started working with AVR. But the CRTC wasn't interested in any of that. 

The appeal court judge asked why all the licenses were revoked when the big problem was Ottawa, and since the last tapes/logs that had been requested were from May 2014 (Toronto/Van) the CRTC really had no proof or knowledge whether the stations were now in compliance or not. They certainly don't now, since logs/tape only has to be kept for 30 days unless otherwise ordered."

Grant then adds his own personal comment, opining that "the stations were doomed from the start. Whether anyone wants to admit it or not, in every single market, with the exception of Edmonton, the signal patterns sucked. Toronto for example has a hard job hitting Scarborough and Mississauga. Vancouver starts to break up as you get into Burnaby. I believe with everything I have that AVR were taken advantage of."

Here's what was playing on Voices Radio Toronto, Sunday afternoon:

4:17 pm

Private Dancer

Tina Turner

4:12 pm

Magic

Coldplay

4:09 pm

Road and the Radio

Jake Mathews

4:06 pm

Love Will Find A Way

Pablo Cruise

4:02 pm

Tempted

Squeeze

 

Voices Radio - Toronto 106.5 FM -- July 26th 2015 -- 3:00 pm

3:57 pm

Akua Tuta

Robbie Robertson

3:54 pm

My Heart Belongs To Me

Barbra Streisand

3:51 pm

Beautiful

Gordon Lightfoot

3:47 pm

Make a Little Magic

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

3:44 pm

One Toke Over The Line

Brewer & Shipley

3:40 pm

Above The Clouds of Pompei

Bear's Den

3:32 pm

Just Another Day

Jon Secada

3:27 pm

Fare Thee Well Love

The Rankin Family

3:23 pm

Heroine Eyes

Rosita Stone

3:18 pm

The Tragically Hip

Long Time Running

3:15 pm

Calypso

John Denver

3:11 pm

Can't Feel My Face

The Weeknd

3:08 pm

Shadows In The Moonlight

Anne Murray

3:04 pm

I Swear

All 4 One

3:00 pm

Rhythm of the Rain

Dan Fogelberg

 

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