Yellowknife's Cabin Radio to resubmit FM licence application, in spite of CRTC decision
Cabin argues for commission to be 'procedurally fair' and accept application
Cabin Radio has given notice that it will reapply for a commercial FM broadcasting licence for Yellowknife, even though the Canadian telecommunications regulator says it's unlikely to accept such applications for two years.
The Northwest Territories news website and online radio station is appealing to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to reconsider its conclusion in February that Yellowknife's radio market can't support another commercial station — a decision that effectively blocked Cabin from getting on the FM dial.
In a February 28 letter to CRTC Secretary General Claude Doucet, published online, Cabin takes issue with the basis of the CRTC's decision, and the length of time — three and a half years — the commission took to reach it.
Cabin says the commission's assessment of Yellowknife's radio market was based primarily on economic data for the N.W.T. as a whole, rather than for Yellowknife in particular, and that it didn't take into account that Cabin has already been operating in the radio space, albeit online, since 2017.
Cabin asks the commission to be "procedurally fair," accept its broadcasting application, and open it within six months. Cabin says it will refile the application in the next 60 days.
Since the CRTC released its decision, Cabin has undertaken a public campaign to get on Yellowknife's FM airwaves. It solicited letters of support and set up a separate website for updates related to its broadcasting licence application.
400 letters of support for Cabin, says editor
"We believe the CRTC did not act in the public interest when it made the decision that it did, so the CRTC needs to hear from the public," Ollie Williams, Cabin's editor and part-owner, told CBC.
Williams said his company has received 400 letters of support from a cross-section of Yellowknifers.
A main theme, he said, is frustration.
"To members of our audience, to residents of Yellowknife, this seems to feel like the latest example of an institution based in the south of Canada not appreciating, or taking the time to appreciate, what's going on in the north of Canada," said Williams.
Adding to the pile of letters is N.W.T. Minister of Finance Caroline Wawzonek.
In the Legislative Assembly on Monday, she said she drafted a letter outlining "a general position of support" for Cabin's FM licence application. Wawzonek didn't specify to whom she addressed the letter.
- N.W.T.'s Cabin Radio decries 'incredibly unfair outcome' after FM licence application blocked by CRTC
Williams said support from the finance minister won't affect Cabin's coverage of her, or of the N.W.T. government, "no matter how nice a letter she writes."
"The [N.W.T. government], ministers, MLAs have paid Cabin Radio money in advertising over the years … they contribute to media organizations all the time in some shape or form. If that immediately corrupted news organizations, then there would be problems far further up the chain than Cabin Radio," said Williams.
"We will definitely continue to closely scrutinize all aspects of society and life in Yellowknife and the Northwest Territories, regardless of who puts pen to paper."