Will G98.7 lose its licence?

Radio station CKFG-FM not in danger of losing its licence

– Fitzroy Gordon

 By Lincoln DePradine

Fitzroy Gordon

Jamaica-born Fitzroy Gordon, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Toronto radio station CKFG-FM (G98.7), has dismissed the idea that the station is in any imminent danger of losing its broadcasting licence.

The license for the station was granted in June 2011 by  the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).

“I don’t see the station as being in danger of being removed by the CRTC,’’ Gordon told The Caribbean Camera. “I can give you my word on that.’’

In a schedule of notices posted on its website, the CRTC lists G98.7 as having to appear for a hearing next Thursday, September 7. The pending hearing prompted some in broadcast industry to speculate on the fate of G98.7, citing CRTC concerns about the station.

According to the website, “Commission records indicate’’ that G98.7 “is in apparent non-compliance’’ with sections of the regulations under which it was given the licence to operate the radio station.

Alleged non-compliance cited by CRTC includes the station not fulfilling its mandate “relating to the filing of a complete and accurate program log and music list’’; and failing to meet the requirement that “at least 50 percent of all musical selections broadcast in each broadcast week be drawn from World Beat and international’’.

Another condition of the radio station’s original licence called for G98.7 to file a report by November 30 of each year, with “specific details’’, showing how it  “has fulfilled its programming requirements in serving the Caribbean and African communities of Toronto with its spoken word programming and musical format’’.

The CRTC claims that, “given the number of instances of apparent non-compliance and the instances of non-compliances’’ by G98.7, it believes it could conclude that the station “has demonstrated that it does not understand its regulatory obligations. Because of this, coupled with the fact that the Commission has already required corrective measures by the licensee (G98.7) during the current licence term, with which the licensee does not appear to have complied, the Commission has concerns regarding the licensee’s ability and commitment to operate the station in a compliant manner’’.

Gordon, who also is manager of G98.7, admitted that the station has been non-compliant on some issues, but said that was “a while ago’’ and it is “old news’’. He also denied that the station’s licence was due to expire this past Thursday, August 31.

“We are now compliant,’’ said Gordon, adding that the licence’s expiration date is August 31, 2018. “People out there, they don’t know these things.’’

The station’s manager and CEO blamed much of the past non-compliant problems on an accountant, who has been removed and replaced with someone with “years of experience in filing CRTC documents and annual reports’’.

Gordon said G98.7 representatives no longer have to appear before CRTC commissioners next week because the station has provided the commission with “all the answers required a long time ago’’.

“They have deemed that we don’t have to appear,’’ said Gordon.

However, a veteran community broadcaster, speaking to The Caribbean Camera on the condition of anonymity, offered an alternative view of the situation.

He suggested that for the next year, beginning September 1, the CRTC would place G98.7 on a “probational licence’’, before making a final decision on whether to renew the station’s operating permit. ”

“To me, the CRTC has already made the decision and decided that they don’t need to hear from them (G98.7),’’ the broadcaster said.

Gordon, on the other hand, insists that G98.7 is on “solid ground’’, saying a station would have had to have “messed up badly’’ and received “serious warnings’’ from the CRTC, to be in danger of having its licence withdrawn.

The licence to operate G98.7 was granted to a company called Intercity Broadcasting Network Inc., which had lobbied members of the Black and Caribbean to support its application to the CRTC.

On its website, G98.7 describes itself as a “commercial radio station that is offering a Black music format that is loved by people of all cultural backgrounds. Our listenership and our staff are very diverse. Our interactive talk programming will also reflect the diversity of our audience, while also addressing issues of direct concern to members of the Black and Caribbean community, who have been missing a voice on mainstream radio station’’.

It said the radio is “delivering the first ever Urban Adult Contemporary (AC) format to the Greater Toronto Area, encompassing a broad and mature mix of new and old R&B, soul, reggae, hip hop, gospel and smooth jazz music. The music that we are playing has never before had a 24/7 home on Canadian commercial radio’’.

“We have really brought the Caribbean and African community to the Canadian mainstream,’’ said Gordon, who revealed that the station employs almost 50 full and part-time workers, many of them youth.

“For the first time in the history of Canada, we have a daytime talk show that gives the community a platform to speak. We also have soca and reggae in daytime,’’ he said.

Gordon said an application that was made to the CRTC, to have the 50 percent of World Beat and international music changed to 37 percent, was intended to create a balance to satisfy younger listeners.

The interest of younger listeners, said Gordon, is in R&B and Hip Hop.

“We believe we have enough reggae and soca,’’ he said. “We are trying to bring about a balance for sons and daughters who were born here to people from the Caribbean and Africa.’’

In its six years in business, the station’s advertising base has broadened to include Canadian corporations, said Gordon, a veteran media practitioner with more than 25 years of experience working in radio, television and print. He formerly hosted the Dr Love show on CHIN-FM Radio, as well as an International Sports Show on The Fan 590.

However, Gordon conceded that G98.7 “would like to have more advertising’’, and has to maintain its efforts “to convince mainstream advertisers to come on board’’.

He credits G98.7 for exposing many new musical talents, and says the stations also has received glowing recommendations for artistes, promoters and advertisers.