Proposed FM station says CBC in its way

A new radio station that would specialize in Afro-Caribbean culture says the CBC in Toronto is blocking its path to the airwaves.

The Caribbean and African Radio Network is upset with the CBC over what it says is the public broadcaster's "selfishness."

The network wants to establish a station at 98.7 FM, but that frequency is extremely close to Toronto's CBC 99.1 radio station.

CARN president Fitzroy Gordon held a news conference on Monday to publicly complain about the CBC. He said the goal of CARN is to provide news, features and music from Caribbean communities at home and abroad. "Our community is the largest community in the GTA without a radio station designated to serve this community," he said.

In a news release Gordon said his organization is "frustrated, disgusted, angry and ashamed of the selfishness of the public broadcaster" for its stand.

The CRTC granted temporary approval in April 2006, but on condition the network find a spot on an already crowded FM dial. Gordon said the best chance to reach communities from Ajax to Oakville is at 98.7.

Broadcast regulations give nearby neighbours veto power if they feel the arrival of a new station might have an impact.

Jeff Keay, the head of media relations for CBC, said the public broadcaster has no issue with CARN's plans for a radio station, and the only issue is a technical one. Keay said "98.7 is just two steps from 99.1 and would create interference for us, for our listeners."

Gordon doesn't appreciate the CBC's opposition. CARN said the CBC has produced no technical evidence to support its claim, but Keay said it's an established industry standard.

The CRTC temporary licence has now expired, but the Caribbean and African Radio Network is still focused on 98.7 FM, calling it the best remaining frequency in the GTA. Gordon is promising to continue his fight to obtain the frequency.