The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission issued a formal notice today raising doubts about the future of Parrsboro’s troubled community radio station. CICR’s seven-year broadcast licence expires on August 31st.
The notice says that the Parrsboro Radio Society (PRS), which holds the licence, does not appear to be in compliance with CRTC requirements including the provision of program logs, other records and logger tapes. The CRTC uses such materials to judge whether a station is meeting its programming obligations.
The Commission’s notice also says that the PRS is in apparent non-compliance with the filing of annual returns dating back to 2008 when it received a full-time broadcasting licence. Annual returns include financial information.
CRTC ‘gravely concerned’
Along with today’s notice, the CRTC released two sets of written exchanges between CICR technical director Ross Robinson and Catherine White, the CRTC’s senior radio analyst. The exchanges took place last February.
They reveal that CICR’s annual returns between 2008 and 2012 were filed late while the ones from 2011 to 2014 were incomplete. “More specifically, the financial statements were missing,” White notes. Robinson responds by saying the annual returns are now complete.
When pressed by White in the second written exchange to explain why PRS had failed to file proper annual returns, Robinson responds:
We do apologize for the late filing as we are all volunteers and were not completely aware of the importance. Additionally there are no paid positions which contributed to the lack of responsibility in ensuring follow through of all requirements as requrested [sic] by the CRTC.
Robinson continues to assert elsewhere in the exchanges that “WE ARE ALL VOLUNTEERS WHERE NO BUDDY GETS PAID” even though he receives a monthly $500 stipend from the PRS in addition to the $450 in rent he collects each month.
“The Commission is gravely concerned by the inadequacy of the responses provided by the licensee to its requests for information,” the CRTC notice says. “These answers are an important indicator of whether the licensee has the required ability and knowledge to comply with the regulatory obligations in the future.”
CRTC sets deadline
The CRTC has set a deadline of June 19th for those who wish to comment on the PRS licence renewal application.
An official at the CRTC’s regional office in Dartmouth says the Commission will weigh the public comments and the seriousness of the non-compliance issues before issuing another notice. It has a variety of options ranging from a short-term licence renewal to suspending the licence or lifting it altogether. It could also summon station management to a public hearing.