British Columbia

Crossborder radio stations anger South Asian broadcaster

A woman who runs two radio stations that target Metro Vancouver's South Asian community believes three crossborder stations should be shut down.

Three stations based in B.C. broadcast from Washington and target Metro Vancouver's South Asian community

The website for Seattle station Radio Punjab makes it clear they are targeting listeners in Metro Vancouver. (www.RadioPunjab.com)

A woman who runs two radio stations that target the South Asian community believes three crossborder stations should be shut down.

The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) already has its eye on the three Punjabi radio stations.

Sher E Punjab, Radio India and Radio Punjab all operate from B.C.—but their radio signals are transmitted from Washington State.

All three stations have been called to a CRTC hearing next month in Quebec, threatened with cease and desist orders.

SFU Marketing Professor Lindsay Meredith says by broadcasting from the U.S. the rogue stations avoid the costs their legitimate competitors have to pay.

"This may be a case of radio station broadcasting out of the U.S. to purposely duck Canadian taxes, Canadian content requirement and, oh by the way, undercut Canadian stations that are trying to sell their advertising to Canadian companies."

Unfair competition

Shushma Dutt operates two stations of her own, Rhim Jhim and RJ1200, that target the South Asian community.

She says her stations are licensed by the CRTC and play by the rules, she wants those that don't shut down.

"The issue is they are not Canadian. The money they are collecting from Canada is going to the U.S.," says Dutt.

"I do know they are not obligated to do anything that is Canadian; we are on the other hand.

For us this has been the most difficult part, because we're supposed to pay close to $70,000 a year to Canadian Talent Development whereas they don't have to."

The owners of Radio India and Radio Punjab refused to comment when contacted by CBC News. The owner of Sher E Punjab radio did not return the CBC's calls.
 

With files from Meera Bains