Wednesday, July 4, 2012

KICK FM; my filing with the CRTC

It is being reported on the KICK FM website that Red River College will effectively shut down the station, claiming CRTC changes in regulation of instructional licenses. This is complete fabrication of events.

The KICK FM (CKIC FM) license was up for renewal. People like myself filed interventions with the CRTC on the proceeding of the license. Until now, KICK was happy to concede to the CRTC's policy changes. They did, after all, file for renewal under the changes.

Now, facing criticism of the College's control over CreComm Inc, the station has instead elected to shut down their station, effectively avoiding federal scrutiny by the CRTC. I will have more postings and comments on this in the coming days.

 In the spirit of journalism, and scientific journalism, here is the intervention I filed with the CRTC.

 * * * *

I am filing an intervention against the renewal of the CKIC FM license. As a volunteer on a former program on this radio station, my experiences gave me exceptional insight into the impropriety of board members with regards to community access and involvement.

 I had great experiences on the show that I was a part of. It taught me invaluable skills which I use to this day, as I have progressed in journalism. I was welcome on the show and to the radio studio. I did work that was meaningful and provided me with a proud sense of purpose. I was encouraged to help, to follow my own stories, to contribute content, and to participate in the day-to-day direction of this show.

Although I cannot speak for other volunteers, I do know they had the same level of involvement as I did, and were treated in the same way I was. They were encouraged to participate in a significant way to the show, and to the station. The Great Canadian Talk Show (TGCTS) also existed on CKIC as the only show to cross-promote all other programs on the station, and encourage listeners to tune in to other programs.

This changed in November 2010, and all of our volunteer work and contributions to the show and the station were halted under the guise of “policy changes,” although only one program was affected: TGCTS. Following this show’s cancellation (after a perfect record of zero complaints during 4 years of broadcasting), myself and other volunteers were essentially shut out of being volunteers on the station. We were no longer welcome to participate, as the show we were community and student participants on was cancelled unilaterally by an “executive committee” of the Board of Directors.

My communication with Graham Thomson (a self-appointed member of this executive committee, and simultaneously a non-voting member of the Board) following cancellation of TGCTS is indicative of the goals of this so-called “executive committee.” Furthermore, in retrospect of these statements, the current application shows a level of collusion that can be considered extensions of their flagrant CKIC and CRTC policy violations.

On 10 November 2010, Graham Thomson replied to an email I sent inquiring about the nature of the “policy change” that occurred.

“Training students, for jobs in the provincial economy, is the focus.” 

This statement describes exactly what TGCTS did. It trained me, and many others, who have gone on to do valuable work in the provincial economy, both as journalists and in the radio industry. After reminding him of this, he responded:

“We know that students were involved in some good learning opportunities with the show.”

This is true, and also precisely why canceling TGCTS was such a mystery. There was no better learning opportunity for radio and for journalism on CKIC than on TGCTS, which ran 5 days a week. Because the show was hosted by a member of the community and not a Red River College student, the show was always there to learn on. A student or community volunteer such as myself, or a board operative, wishing to learn more did not have to worry about bending their already-tight schedules. One could put as much time or effort in as they wanted. It was an ideal training platform.

I again told Mr Thomson this is what the show did and why it was such an asset to CKIC as a training platform. Mr Thomson responded:

“Producing and researching is valuable, but student on-air delivery on TGCTS was limited.”

Training and community access is the purpose of the station, not student air-time. In fact, RRC students were allowed air time on the show, and in a much more valuable way than simply how many minutes they were on air speaking. Because the host encouraged students and volunteers to pursue their own material, it was their journalism material that was broadcasted.

This statement, along with the first statement I highlighted, also shows a disconnect between what the “executive committee” wanted, and what the station mandate was at the time: to provide instruction. Not, as Mr Thomson eluded to, to provide RRC student airtime. Mr Thomson stated this despite being fully aware of the involvement and successful training of RRC students on the program.

After nearly two years, there is still only one program to have been cancelled: the program that gave students and community volunteers such as myself the opportunity to participate in and contribute journalism and talk radio content to, in a professional environment.

As I understand, the CRTC’s policies and guidelines on volunteers, volunteer participation and community access are quite clear. As are the CRTC’s policies on governance of campus and community stations. The governance of CKIC is still under the same people who have shut out the community, volunteers, and any semblance of adherence to any rules. And they want to continue to run a campus and community license.

I received no help at all with other board members, in particular the student representatives. Nobody was willing to stand up to the officials from RRC who stepped in to take control of the station to eliminate one program from their FM band, and spend their time after November 2010 devising ways to lie, deceive, or cover up exactly what they did.

The events surrounding the cancellation of TGCTS and now this license application show that Red River College, the funder CreComm Inc, have successfully usurped control of the radio station. The question the CRTC must ask of Graham Thomson, is how does a non-voting member of the board have such influence, to cancel shows that adhered to all their policies and CRTC policies? How does a non-voting member of the board have such influence that he/she can treat volunteers and community members with such contempt?

Graham Thomson was not the only “executive committee” member to show contempt for volunteers and CRTC policies. The other RRC official of the “executive,” former RRC Vice President Cathy Rushton, did this as well.

In RRC’s attempt to lie to the public about the cancellation of the show as other interveners have documented, Ms Rushton created two preposterous lies about a municipal and federal politician. She claimed that Mayor of Winnipeg Sam Katz, and Minister of Public Safety Vic Toews had made complaints about The Great Canadian Talk Show. No such complaints exist, in fact zero complaints exist against the show within CreComm Inc, or with the CRTC. It was with this logic Ms Rushton tried to justify the show’s cancellation: there had been high profile complaints, therefore, we had to remove the show (a much different reason than Mr Thomson’s “policy changes.”)

Both politicians soundly denied complaining, as Mayor Katz was a frequent guest, and Mr Toews had never even heard of the program, let alone be a guest on it. I had written about this on my website, Myself and others made repeated calls for her to correct the record for this uncalled for slander and defamation against the show’s host. After she had been caught red-handed lying to the public about these two politicians, Ms Rushton contacted me, asking me to “correct the record” by publishing her email to me on my website. I have submitted this email as part of my intervention.

Ms Rushton thought it prudent to “correct the record” not through an official means, or through Red River College, or issuing a public apology, but rather, to have a blogger publish an email where she denies purposeful wrongdoing.

As a third and last example I would like to draw your attention to correspondence between Ms Rushton and Mr Thomson that was discovered in a Freedom of Information request. This email chain is submitted with my intervention.

Another local blogger had contacted Mr Thomson and received a response back. The blogger asked Mr Thomson of the possibility of host Marty Gold to appeal the decision and the possibility of him still being involved with the station.

Note, in this email chain, that it starts with a “Google Alert.” Ms Rushton evidently had set a Google Alert for all new items with “Marty Gold” in them. This shows further contempt for a volunteer community member, as does the resulting conversation with Mr Thomson. It is clear that these “executive committee” members acted on their own accord, to remove one program from the airwaves, and assert RRC control over what is supposed to be an independent non-profit organization.

Note also, that blogger John Dobbin had made a post at 4:03PM on 12 November 2010. (this can be checked in Mr Dobbin’s archives). By 4:59PM on 12 November 2010, less than an hour after Dobbin had published his post, Ms Rushton had sent an email to Mr Thomson in desperation that he was not telling people Mr Gold could appeal or in any way get back on the airwaves of CKIC FM. Why would college officials be monitoring the niche local blog community for dissent against their actions?

This culture of contempt by RRC officials towards volunteers and the community at large is proven in their success in usurping control of the CreComm Inc organization. From the guise of “programming changes” to spreading fictitious complaints by politicians, and to monitoring local blogs for mentions of the show’s host. They have mysteriously “lost” records of the executive committee. And now RRC and CreComm Inc seek to have their license status changed and approved.

The CRTC cannot allow CKIC’s license renewal to proceed. The conduct of RRC officials has been clear, that rules, policies and guidelines are of no meaning and of no consequence. The level of contempt for community volunteers, as well as listeners, that put so much work into helping to make this station successful is astounding. These people cannot be entrusted to run a public community radio station.

I hereby urge the CRTC to revoke CKIC’s license.

Graham Hnatiuk

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