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Concerned citizens group opposes new radio station in PEC

The Concerned Citizens of Prince Edward County has filed a submission to the CRTC opposing an application from a group from the GTA to establish a commercial radio station in the County.
“We oppose the application in its present form because it offers few benefits to County residents and businesses,” said Gary Mooney, member of the Concerned Citizens executive committee. “There are a number of local residents who are interested in establishing a community radio station here, like the one on Amherst Island.  However, approval of a commercial licence may preclude a future community licence. There have also been interventions by the radio stations in Belleville and Napanee, all of whom oppose the application.”
The deadline for submissions to the CRTC is today, September 2.  There will be a hearing on the application in Saskatoon on October 6.

The Concerned Citizens submission:
Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission
Ottawa, ON K1A 0N2
Dear Sir / Madam

Re: Application No. 2010-0549-7 by 7253231 Canada Limited for an FM radio station for Prince Edward County, Ontario
1. Concerned Citizens of Prince Edward County is a not-for-profit member corporation – a citizens’ action group dedicated to the preservation of the quality of life in Prince Edward County and the affordability of local government. The term “quality of life” is considered in a broad sense and includes support of locally-based businesses and encouragement of healthy dialogue among residents on local issues. For further info, see www.ccpec.on.ca.
2. We have no connections with the Applicant, and were not contacted by the Applicant prior to the filing of its application. We have had two email exchanges with Debra McLaughlin, majority shareholder, both initiated by us. We have no conflict of interest in making the following submission.
3. We have reviewed the Applicant’s proposal for a commercial radio station in Prince Edward County (“the County”). We are opposed to the application in its present form. Following are comments, conclusions and requests.
No local ownership or control
4. Prince Edward County has a strong buy-local orientation, a legacy of its agricultural history and its many family farms. “Buy local” anticipates local ownership. Currently, the Applicant has no Prince Edward County connections. There would be no County ownership or even representation on the Board. A missed opportunity to integrate well with our community.

Minimal news / issues coverage
5. The County gets its local news mainly from three County newspapers. There are many contentious issues, with much of the related debate occurring in the local papers. But the seven-day cycle time doesn’t make for effective discourse. The Applicant proposes news coverage of only 20 minutes daily (weekly total of 2 hours, 21 minutes) with 75% being local news. Most news segments will be 2 minutes or less – essentially headline news. The Applicant has no plans for a daily phone-in show or other means of discussing County issues. A missed opportunity to add value, which cannot be achieved via print media.
Minimal locally-produced features
6. The County has a burgeoning creative economy, with a wide range of local creative talent, including people working in both traditional and new media. The applicants propose almost no locally produced pre-scripted features – only 3 minutes per week. A missed opportunity to engage with our creative community.

No specific programming for County visitors
7. The Applicant mentions 125,000 visitors to the County annually. In fact, the number of visitors in 2004 was 440,000 and, in a 2006 report by The Tourism Company, was projected to be 600,000 in 2010.
8. We expect that one reason for the discrepancy was that the Applicant’s market research missed the huge number of visitors to Sandbanks Provincial Park, who camp inside the park, rent cottages nearby or just visit for the day. In 2009, Sandbanks accumulated 568,000 visitor days, according to Don Buckles, Park Superintendent. Many of the visitors are francophones from Quebec, attracted by the Florida-like beaches and the many wineries.
9. Many Sandbanks visitors spend most of their time in the Park and patronize local businesses only minimally. There is a major opportunity to appeal to such visitors and attract them to local events, shops and services. However, the Applicant doesn’t have any plans to provide specific programming for County visitors in general, or Sandbanks visitors (including francophones) in particular. Doing so would open up a major market for local businesses that is difficult to access by any other means. Another missed opportunity.

Consumer market research offered no choice
10. The Applicant commissioned market research regarding consumer demand for, and acceptance of, a County radio station. But it did not offer those surveyed a choice between a music-oriented format and a talk / issues / features format. While we accept that most County residents are in favour of having a local radio station, we believe that most would indicate a preference for the latter format.
Economics market research is questionable
11. The Applicant’s third-party economics research implies that population growth in the County is adequate but, at less than 0.5% annually (2001 to 2006), growth was only 36% of that for Ontario as a whole. In fact, 0.5% has been the average growth rate in the County over more than a century.
12. The estimate of growth in retail sales of 8% annually (total 47%) during the same period is likely attributable in large part to growth in “lifestyle” tourism driven by expansion of the winemaking industry (from 1 winery in 2001 to 31 in 2010). However, the Applicant is focused on serving County residents and not on appealing to County visitors.

Adverse financial impact on local print media
13. The applicant expects to generate local advertising revenues of $422,000 in year 1, increasing to double this amount in year 6, with 30% being generated at the expense of other County media, mostly print. This will have a substantial adverse impact on the three County newspapers, a new online service called CountyLive, and several locally published quarterly magazines (e.g. County Magazine), all of which offer substantial local content.

Uncertainty re the Applicant’s future intentions
14. The application shows two coverage areas based on field strength – 3 mV/m (“Primary”) and 0.5 mV/m (“Secondary”). The Primary area covers only half of the total area of the County and only about 40% of the County’s population of 22,259. It covers about 3.5 of 10 County Wards – Picton (pop. 3705), North Marysburgh (1242), Sophiasburgh (2060) and part of Hallowell (total 3700). Note: Population numbers are from the MPAC database and are about 10% lower than the 2006 census numbers.
15. But the Primary area also includes the non-County communities of Tyendinaga (pop. 4070) and Greater Napanee (15400) – having a total population more than double that of the Primary area within the County. Note: Population numbers are from the 2006 census.
16. The Secondary area covers about 6.5 County Wards and 60% of the County’s population – Bloomfield, Wellington, Athol, Ameliasburgh, Hillier, South Marysburgh and part of Hallowell. There is potential interference from CIUT-FM (Toronto) on the western side of the County, including the north-south portion of Hwy 33, the main route into the County from the west.
17. Half of the total coverage area, Primary and Secondary, is outside the County to the north and east, extending from Belleville through Napanee to Kingston. Ms. McLaughlin indicated that they want to cover a larger area for continuity when County residents travel outside the County, but such travel is mostly to Trenton and Belleville and not to Napanee or Kingston.
18. If this is to be a County-focused radio station, why is half of the total coverage area, including half of the primary area, outside the County? If there is to be a radio station in the  County, we want it to be in a position where it lives or dies based on how well it serves the County and its needs.

Minimal Canadian Content Development
19. The Applicant is offering only $5,000 per year, as compared to a proposed $50,000 per year in its earlier, unsuccessful application for a radio station in Orillia, which has a population less than double that of the County. This differential is likely due to the fact that the Applicant is not in a competitive situation with respect to the current application.
Local interest in a community radio station
20. There is a local group interested in establishing a community radio station in the County, similar to that on Amherst Island to the east. Such a station would undoubtedly focus on local news, events, issues and would provide a showcase for local creative talent. There is concern that granting a licence to the Applicant would preclude approval by the Commission of a community radio station in the County in the near future.

Conclusions
21. In summary, here are our main conclusions:
a. The Applicant proposes to parachute a commercial radio station into the County. It will have no local ownership or control. It will be a music-oriented station offering only minimal local news content and little, if any, opportunity for real-time discussion and debate on local issues. It will drain away advertising dollars from the local print media.
b. The Applicant has failed to recognize and address a major opportunity in the tourism market, especially the potential to persuade hundreds of thousands of visitors, in particular Sandbanks visitors, to increase their patronage of local businesses.
c. Taking account of its proposed coverage area, it is not clear that the Applicant intends to remain totally focused on the County in the future.
22. If this application were from County residents, we believe that the programming would be much more oriented to addressing local issues, showcasing local creative talent and connecting with visitors to the County.
23. In our view, based on this application, the proposed radio station will do little to benefit the residents of Prince Edward County or its tourism industry, beyond providing an additional music format for area listeners. Therefore, we are opposed to the application in its present form.

Requests
24. We respectfully make the following requests:
a. We believe that most of the above concerns could be reduced or eliminated, but it would require a major revision of the application to do so. We ask that the Commission require the Applicant to revise its application to address our concerns.
b. If a licence is granted to the Applicant, we ask that the Commission specifically leave open the possibility of approving a locally-owned community radio station in the near future.
Respectfully submitted
Gary Mooney
Member, Executive Committee
gary.mooney@actel.ca

Filed Under: Local News

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  1. Administrator says:

    Comments now closed on this article.

  2. Emily Durant says:

    I appreciate your response Mr.Mooney. I am desperately trying to give you the benefit of the doubt, after all how ill can the intentions be of one who is Concerned about the community?

    Unfortunately I can not. I believed in your concerns, I even recited them myself. The truth is there is no basis for these arguments, now I, as well as yourself come off looking like were blowing smoke. Ive been able to get a hold of the broadcasters and they have been very transparent.I have not been able to get a hold of you…

    We can all sit around and talk about intentions, but the fact is your “argue” first “innovate” second mentality has led us into this position. You should be blazing trails, not collecting evidence. If this radio station does not happen now, it may never. People seemed to be less concerned with the issues involved with starting this station and more concerned with the fact that it was not them, in effect inacting this pipe dream.

    Your arguments listed above are simply not true, for the most part, problem number one. You even go as far as making things up. I do not understand your intentions, its truly upsetting.

    I hope that after this Radio debate is settled, we can honestly discuss who and what this committee is about.

    I too will ask the question of you, who are these council members? why are they not listed? Are you sure this not just about you? I know who you are, why?

    Again, who and what is a Gary Mooney? I think thats something were all wondering right now.

  3. Craig LeCavalier says:

    Oh, and who is on this 8 person committee? We have the right to know who’s supposedly representing this community… Now lets all watch Mr. Mooney dance around the issue. I’ve personally had enough of you and your “concerned citizens”…

  4. Craig LeCavalier says:

    AND you filed that opposition, not the broadcaster. You put your name front and center. Please stop assuming the people of this county are uneducated. My 16 year old son could do a better job twisting this.

  5. Craig LeCavalier says:

    Sir, your name is listed everywhere… You even quote yourself in the above portion, sad. Your the community watch dog? My problem is the fact that you’ve appointed yourself our protector yet you don’t put up much of a fight. They responded to you and instead of picking it apart you asked the same questions, which leads me to believe your making an issue just to make an issue. YOU HAVE THE ANSWERS, and had them previous to this post, why did you not inform us of this? As a member of this community they have addressed my concerns, and yours… What’s the problem? There is none, you want to be involved, you want to be front and center And you would gladly hold this community back to make sure your the topic of discussion. This radio station will happen cause its good for the community and I will only tune in if it represents US. Not Mr. Mooney and not just ME… but us… You’ve forgotten what your fighting for. Please stop

    I know you didn’t have to respond, but why even file an opposition if the issues have been addressed? Do you have the courage to answer any of these questions?

  6. Gary Mooney says:

    Emily, I complained to the Applicant that they have characterized the intervention as that of an individual (me) instead of the not-for-profit group Concerned Citizens of Prince Edward County, but they refused make the necessary corrections.

    The intervention was approved by the eight-person Board of Directors of Concerned Citizens and was submitted on CCPEC letterhead.

    Craig, under CRTC rules, there is no provision for responding to the response of the Applicant.

  7. Craig LeCavalier says:

    Im sorry, but the more I read this response the more sick to my stomach I become. Its clear Mr.Mooney has more to hide then the broadcasters here. Your questions have been answered, and quite frankly you come off looking a little foolish sir. Instead of asking the same old, why not respond to the response? Forget arguing wether a radio station will work in this county, let us instead discuss the relevance of this council. This is so sad Mr.Mooney…

  8. Craig LeCavalier says:

    I really feel a group called “Concerned Citizens” should be giving the “citizens” of this county both sides of the story. With a little research I found the reply. A reply this council no doubt recieved, why wouldnt you post this? Your intentions are questionable sir.

    I was unsure about this “Radio Station” at first, but time after time I find those who are opposing this have other agendas. Its to bad there are those who would put there own self interest ahead of the community as a whole, especially when you should be protecting it.

    shame on you.

    http://support.crtc.gc.ca/applicant/docs.aspx?pn_ph_no=2010-551&call_id=131545&lang=E&defaultName=Concerned%20Citizens%20of%20Prince%20Edward%20County&replyonly=true&addtInfo=&addtCmmt=&fnlSub=

  9. Emily Durant says:

    Another good question is why is this “letter of opposition” filed under “Gary Mooney”? Who and What is a “Gary Mooney”? Shouldnt this be an opposition from the council as a whole? Im really starting to get the impression someone likes hearing themselves talk a little to much… Its quite clear This has nothing to do with helping the community and more to do with Mr.Mooney serving his inflated ego. Thank you for the above post Craig, its important these question are answered so we can come to an educated decision on the issue. I for one support this application because at the end of the day, if it dosnt serve local taste it wont last long. So what do we have to loose?

  10. Knowlton Hunter says:

    After reading the many responses I think there is some merit on both sides. My feeling is that Concerned Citizens does often come off quite negatively and some take them to task for this. On the other hand the present council seems to have been without original ideas of its own, leaving a gaping hole which the CCPEC often is trying to plug. Many of the arguments they make regarding the radio station application are appropriate. My question would be “why has no one on this council apparently ever even considered what an excellent venue for County exposure such a station could be long before it became a’cause celebre’?” A council that lacks vision will always be playing catch up with the public.

  11. jac says:

    @ Killashandra – I doubt anything would please Eric more! He was pretty good in his day and the only thing that kept him from pursuing that career any further was lead filled programmers that made him play what they thought was good music.
    I would bet, if left to his own devices and with some inspiration and guidance from yours truly (he says modestly with tongue in cheek), that radio station might be one of, if not the most popular on both sides of Lake Ontario.

  12. Eric says:

    Radio station = support for local interests, musicians, etc.
    No radio station = no support locally.

  13. Killashandra says:

    Hey Eric – with your experience, why don’t you start a County based Radio Station. I’m sure there would be a lot of support from all the county musicians and you could get seed money from PELACFDC. I’d invest in it. Maybe its call letters could be CPEC? (have no idea how they are assigned)

  14. Loretta says:

    Eric, as you pointed out, a radio station is a business and you asked “since when do self-appointed nay-sayers have a vote in establisment of business” ?
    Since airwaves in Canada are considered public property and a limited resource. All broadcast businesses (TV, Radio, Cell etc) have their licenses reviewed in a public forum.

    Richard, you commented that the Concerned Citizens should have entered the debate at the start: I learned about the proposed station from an ad in the local paper, by the applicants, stated that they had chosen not to go public until this time (I’m guessing they were required to by the CRTC). That sent up a red flag for me since it was only a few weeks to the deadline. Who or what were they hiding from? Seemed to me that the Concerned Citizens entered “the debate” as soon as it was made public. They clearly stated they were not against having a radio station in the County, they just wanted to ensure that it served the people of the County.

    To everyone who wants the application to proceed – Let’s hear what points, what statistics and evidence you have to support the application as it stands. Convince me it would be a good thing.

  15. jac says:

    I’ve sort of been watching this debate from a distance and I pretty much have to echo at least part of Eric’s comments (not because he’s my brother either)
    I turned off commercial radio pretty much two decades ago. Nobody said I had to except me. I didn’t like it any more so I called the shot and turned the dial elsewhere.
    If business decides they can make a buck by having a radio station in PEC then let them have at it. If nobody listens then I’m pretty sure they’ll go away. If they become popular through listenership then they’ll stick around.
    When they do go to air I certainly hope they have a fresh worldwide view of music. And Eric can do the midnight to morning blues/rock show. Shades of Estevan? The truckers on the four ought one will love it.

  16. Gary Mooney says:

    All of the media ran similar headlines “Concerned Citizens opposes.. ” but, because headlines need to be short, didn’t add “in its present form” which is what we said. We also suggested that the application could be revised to eliminate most of our concerns.

    Understandably, the Applicant wants the best deal for itself. The CRTC needs to hear from the community, in order to ensure that the radio service, if approved, is in the best interests of all. If the community demands nothing more than the minimum, it will get nothing more than the minimum.

  17. Eric Zylstra says:

    2 points. 1] Who voted the Concerned as my rep? Not me.
    2] I worked at Chum Kingston, Corus Entertainment Kingston, Quinte Broadcasting Belleville, etc. and I say about time The County had on-air representation. Build-up not tear down [as a hint to Concerned Citizens]. I know that broadcasting is more public than alot of media but when the whip comes down it’s a business and since when do self-appointed nay-sayers have a vote in establisment of business. If you don’t like what the new station is doing turn it off. You are your own gate-keepers and I thank-you not to guard mine. I am very capable of making up my own mind and making my own mistakes.

  18. I have worked in the local media in some capacity for ten years and agree that this proposal for this kind of radio station would benefit very slim minority of us.

  19. Paul says:

    Concerned Citizens, Bored People, or *Sheet* Disturbers as found in the Urban Dictionary (A person who because of their very nature, insults random people, picks fights, and likes to stir up trouble)

  20. Richard Parks says:

    I have no problem with anyone voicing concerns over decisions of Council. We do live in a democracy. What I am saying is a more “grass roots”,and a more effective and efficient way to interact with Council and the people of Prince Edward County might be to enter the debate at the start and try to change policy as it develops. This group seems to wait until input from everyone else is heard and the decision is made. This is a divisive strategy on their part,one that more often than not leaves them at odds with Council.

  21. Chris Keen says:

    If the concerned citizens were around when Columbus sailed to the New World, I’m sure they would have suggested he take three ships – just in case! There’s clearly a deficiency in the application for this County station – i.e. absolutely no mention of “County” content. The CRTC has a mandate and, if they agree this is an issue, can instruct the applicant to vary their request or turn it down entirely. Messers Parks, Hair and Sivel are way off base on this one.

  22. Rosemary says:

    These are valid concerns and need to be brought to the attention of County residents. Clearly there is an opportunity to improve the quality of McLauglin’s application to address these issues. And failing that, it leaves the door open for a radio station that does. Well done Concerned Citizens!!

  23. Loretta Salet says:

    Mr Parks,

    Are you against the Concerned Citizens because you are re-running for office in The County and because you are on council your decisions and actions should not be questioned or opposed by the citizens you are there to represent? Take a minute and think about the name of the group “Concerned Citizens”. They have obviously come together to address concerns over something – therefore their goals are to raise awareness and object to ideas or plans that may run contrary or negatively impact the quality of life that they believe in. By definition, they are going to voice negative opinions and object to things proposed by others. As a councillor, it is up to you (and council) to come up with “new” and “innovative” ideas and to welcome input from concerned citizens not berate them! Shame on you!

  24. Killashandra Ree says:

    Been a county resident for 20 years and have often bemoaned the lack of local news on local Radio and TV. Even though CKWS (Kingston) has an office in Belleville, I found that for local news coverage, CHEX in Peterborough did a better job. The radio stations in Belleville and Napanee often mention County in “Headliners” but rarely followup with details.
    I was looking forward to having a local station that focused on The County But after reading the submission by the Concerned Citizens of Prince Edward County, penned by Mr Mooney, I have to agree with their conclusion. Maybe this will spur local talent and business to form their own application to the CRTC for a truly County radio station. We have a lot of talent and I for one, would be willing to invest in it.

  25. Nigel Sivel says:

    Are these people in support of anything but their own narrow interests?

  26. Richard Parks says:

    You know, I’m glad Concerned Citizens weren’t around
    when Columbus set out to discover The New World. And I’m really glad they were no where to be found when The Fathers of Confederation issued the blueprint for this great Country of ours. It’s just too damn easy to find
    fault with everything. They never, and I mean never
    has this group come up with an original idea. They are always against this, or against that. Not an “ideas”
    person in the bunch, always tearing down, criticizing, finding fault. Stop this constant telling any one who will listen, why it can’t or shouldn’t be done.

    ” Lead, follow or get out of the way” -Lee Iacocca

  27. Jim Hair says:

    Why don’t you people get a real hobby? What did you do in T dot for fun?

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