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CRTC Orders Radio India To Stop Broadcasting Via US Station

Radio India 1600 KRPI Surrey VancouverThe CRTC has ordered that Surrey, BC based Radio India cease broadcasting its programming on 1600 KVRI Blaine, WA by midnight tonight.

The cause of the violation is that Radio India’s programming originates from studios in Surrey and aired on an American license as Radio India owner Baljit Kaur Bains has brokered time on Multicultural Broadcasting’s KVRI since 2000. The CRTC considers the group to be partaking in a broadcasting undertaking in whole or in part in Canada without a license. As part of the order, Baljit Kaur Bains and station manager Maninder Singh Gill must show proof that it has terminated its arrangements with KVRI by 5:00pm on November 20 as well as not have an ownership interest or involvement of any nature in any element of a business connected with a radio station operating out of the United States that has a transmitter whose signal reaches into Canada.

Additionally, two other stations must also come into compliance by given deadlines. “Sher-E-Punjab” on 1550 KRPI Ferndale, WA has until December 1, 2014, and “Radio Punjab” on 1110 KRPA Oak Harbor, WA has until January 7, 2015. Both stations have the same requirements to fulfill as Radio India.

Profile photo of Lance Venta
Lance Venta is the Owner and Publisher of RadioInsight.com and a consultant for RadioBB Networks specializing in integration of radio and the internet. Lance has two decades of experience tracking the audio industry and its use of digital platforms.

22 Comments

  1. Profile photo of jimh


    A bit of a “stretch” on the part of the CRTC…..can see this winding up in court for quite awhile

    • Profile photo of jimh


      And this is different how than the many Mexican radio stations whose studios are in the US and who broadcast to San Diego?

      • Profile photo of kyl416


        The FCC doesn’t have rules forbidding cross-border operations like the CRTC does. As long as the Mexican station isn’t interfering with a US operation and they remain in compliance with Mexico’s regulations, they’re free to target whatever audience they want.

        The CRTC on the other hand regulates everything. If they were to shutdown their operations on Canadian soil and move everything to the USA they would be fine, although they might run into problems getting ads from Canadian companies,

        • Profile photo of Theater of My Mind


          I’m not familiar with the CRTC rules on this but it does seem like something that could be subject to either a legal challenge or exploiting a legal loophole.

          For one thing, this operator is simply creating content and not transmitting it on any Canadian broadcast signal. Can the CRTC really tell the operator what kind of content it can or can’t produce when they’re not even boadcasting it *IN* Canada? I’m quite sure the CRTC can’t tell the American station not to broadcast whatever it wants under American law, so they are essentially trying to censor content being created in a studo but not being transmitted in Canada. Seems legally shaky.

          As for the loohole, does the CRTC have the authority to regulate Internet-only broadcasters, make them play CanCon etc.? If not, then what if Radio India were to call itself a webcaster, stream online, and by coicidence the American broadcaster simply picks up that stream and transmits it “on its own”?

  2. Profile photo of JeremyAndrews


    The FCC never really cared too much about border blasters operating out of Mexico and targeting the United States, even with the studios originating in the United States. However, they did crack down on ownership caps, requiring companies like Clear Channel to give up on their half of the operation and sell the lease agreement to other companies.

    In the case of Canada, they have studios in Canada and a transmitter in the United States. The CRTC can tell them to get off the air from Canada. But I doubt they can make them get off the air if they decided to move their studio into the United States.

    Several US stations target the Canadian side of the border, but the studio originates from the United States so it’s not under their control at all.

    All these Indian broadcasters who lease time on these stations really would have to do is move their programming from Canadian studios into the main studio or transmitter site of the U.S. licensed station they are broadcasting on. That may or may not be easy.

    • Profile photo of maytableinc


      Hmm… What about WLYK in Cape Vincent, NY? Rogers pretty much owns the station (though there are other stakeholders) and the CRTC has not regulated the station at all. On their website, there is no mention about any connection they have in having a studio or contact information in New York and from a public’s viewpoint, they would not be able to tell that the station is actually an American one. I don’t understand why the CRTC starts pushing Rogers to cease broadcasting on an American station.

      • Profile photo of elcartero


        Well, for one thing they seem to be observing the same CanCon rules as an authentic Canadian station — their current airplay log includes Lights, Hedley, Deadmau5 among other native acts. One of the main points in the original article here about the Indian AM stations is that they were allegedly using the US licenses to sidestep CanCon requirements.

        • Profile photo of elcartero


          >> in the original article here

          Here? Maybe not. I wish I could find the link, but I do remember that being an issue brought up.

  3. Profile photo of Bongwater


    Well when the finger pointing begins (like probably right about now), the ones who will get the blame for upsetting this particular apple cart will probably be Sher-e Punjab, who caused a major community stink with their plans to move KRPI 1550 AM from Ferndale to Point Roberts and build a HUGE five tower array there, just mere feet from the border and a really populated area (Tsawwassen, BC) and residents of both Point Roberts and Tsawwassen both fought tooth and nail to keep the operation from happening.

    On the other hand, Radio India’s Maninder Gill was involved in a shooting incident at a Sikh temple in Surrey, BC back in 2010. Which put him and KVRI 1600 AM under the public microscope.

    The third party in all this, Radio Punjab ended operations on 500 watt daytimer KRPA 1110 AM Oak Harbor, WA and is currently simulcasting Variety Hits KWLE 1340 AM “1340 The Whale” Anacortes, WA as of last month.

    They COULD move operations south. But there currently isn’t any South Asian population in Bellingham or any place in Whatcom or Skagit Counties big enough to support these stations. And Canadian businesses can’t advertise directly on US stations.

    • Profile photo of Theater of My Mind

      And Canadian businesses can’t advertise directly on US stations.

      I don’t belive that is correct. There are plenty of U.S. border stations running ads for Canadian businesses. One of the most prominent examples of this is WYUL/Chateaugay, NY which entirely brands itself as a Montreal station and rund bilingual spots for Montreal businesses, something the Canadan stations aren’t even allowed to do under CRTC rules.

      http://947hits.com

      • Profile photo of rjoc


        Agreed, here in Maine WQDY 92.7 Calais Maine airs numerous ads for businesses across the border in Saint Stephen New Brunswick. And “The Tide” CHTD 98.1 Saint Stephen advertises many US businesses here in Maine.

      • Profile photo of Bongwater


        There are Canadian studios and sales offices for these US stations. They serve a middleman function that kept it looking copacetic to Canadian regulators whilst sending money south for use of the American transmitters,

    • Profile photo of charles57


      “They COULD move operations south”? The CRTC issued direct orders to Radio India, Radio Punjab and Sher-E-Punjab not to do that. Since the CRTC is a Canadian government agency, it was prepared to go to court to enforce those orders.

      An online-only operation would not be affected.

      • Profile photo of maytableinc


        Well they want advertising from Canadian companies and if they don’t have their main presence in Canada, then it puts a deterrent in their ability to generate revenue. That said, WYUL is a great example of how you can both target the Canadian audience and get advertising dollars from Canadian companies. But WYUL has benefits as stated above, to Canadian advertisers who want airtime. And obviously this Radio India station does not get the same privileges as it does not target a French market. Online only would only show that they would be giving in to the demands of the CRTC and obviously detrement their advertising dollars (advantages of terrestrial broadcasting). Going to see if the CRTC can call for the RCMP to get involved in this, similar to the pirate in Ottawa a few years ago.

  4. Profile photo of Bongwater


    As of today, both KRPI and KVRI are still on the air in their regular format in defiance of the CRTC order.

    This could be interesting.

    However Charles Everett, there’s nothing holding these stations back should they decide to move studios and operations to Whatcom County. They’re already giving the CRTC the proverbial finger as I type this while listening to KRPI. They’re still running spots for Surrey based South Asian businesses and regular programming as if it’s just an ordinary day. (there’s even a political ad for someone in Surrey.)

    One recourse the CRTC has is to snitch off the advertisers on KRPI and KVRI to Revenue Canada. Which will make deductions at tax time for these businesses a mutually assured migraine headache.. There may be other actions they can take as long as they’re still in Canada and taking Canadian advertising whilst beaming their signal from across the border. But if they go over the border, they would be a US entity technically (and a total outlaw at that) with no Canadian respresentation and it would also mean a brand new set of problems. But I didn’t really see them potentially going that far until this morning when I turn on these stations and heard them both still running as if nothing happened.

    Radio India has been trying to secure 600 kHz for a Canadian licensed Vancouver based station. But I don’t see that happening now. That would be like a pirate running a 5,000 watt station, ignoring a NOUO and still demanding a license.

    They could go online only (and they honestly should until this gets straightened out.) But a defiant approach to government orders just never ends well for any business. Maybe their lawyers found a loophole. I don’t know.

    They’re making an appeal, but I wouldn’t get my hopes up handling it this way.

  5. Profile photo of Bongwater


    The thing here is this: Studios and operations are based in Canada. They COULD go south (and with Radio India and Sher-e Punjab the possibility remains), but I think they’re waiting to see what they’re going to do with WYUL (that might be the loophole I was talking about.)

    And since Radio Marketing Solutions of Montreal LMAs WYUL for it’s American owners, Cartier Broadcasting, like Radio India and Sher-e Punjab does for Way Broadcasting (KVRI) and BBC Broadcasting (not THAT BBC) for (KRPI) respectively, they’re probably waiting to see what happens there. Or not. We’ll see.

    If this ruling applies to WYUL as equally, then there won’t be any excuse for Radio India and Sher-e Punjab not to shut down their respective border blasters.

    But there’s something else….

    “Radio Marketing Solutions is a Canadian company, but it’s owned in turn by Martz Communications Group, a U.S. company that specializes in running small American border stations that focus on reaching audiences in Canada. Tim Martz, who founded and runs the company, is a former Montrealer. His father was the late Don Martz, who spent two decades as general manager of CFCF TV (now called CTV Montreal)….”

    http://www.pugetsoundradio.com/cgi-bin/forum/Blah.pl?m-1392661190/

    I need an Aleve tablet…….

  6. Profile photo of Eric Jon Magnuson


    Maybe this is also partly a preemptive move by the CRTC concerning the recently awarded but still-to-be-built FMs in Grand Portage, Minn.–which many (including yours truly) assume will end up targeting Thunder Bay.

  7. Profile photo of Bongwater


    “One of KRPI 1550’s hosts, Harjit Gill, told The Sun Thursday that the staff are going to eventually be moved to Ferndale and will have to obtain visas to work in the U.S…..”

    Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/news/CRTC+demands+Pirate+Radio+station+Radio+India+shut+down+midnight/10377832/story.html#ixzz3J8ssmcQv

    And so it begins……

  8. Profile photo of charles57


    This has nothing to do with Calais or Cape Vincent or Chateaugay or Montreal or St. Stephen or even Thunder Bay. You all want Radio India et. al. to do whatever they want and the hell with the consequences.

    These South Asian broadcasters were summoned to appear IN PERSON before the CRTC. Based on the news coverage I’ve read, the CRTC got complaints that Radio India et. al. were broadcasting from studios in Canada on transmitters located in the US. The Canadian media went so far as to call Radio India et. al. “pirate radio”.

    And for those who think cross-border radio is so wonderful? WLYK is the lowest-rated station in Kingston and WYUL doesn’t appear in Montreal ratings. That’s empirical data from Canadian ratings agency Numeris.

    • Profile photo of elcartero


      Well that doesn’t surprise me about WYUL. They’re an extreme rimshot to the city, broadcasting with the equivalent of a class B 60 miles from downtown Montreal — their outer “fringe” contour just reaches downtown. And Montreal has its own CHRs now. I imagine people will put up with a few Canadian songs they don’t like, over the static.

  9. Profile photo of Theater of My Mind


    It’s not about whether Radio India does well or not, it’s just disbelief that the CRTC has the authority to shut down a broadcast that isn’t even occurring within Canada.

    It’s not “pirate radio”. It’s brokered programming being aired on a U.S. radio station that’s perfectly legal under the FCC rules where that station is located.

    The CRTC is actually telling a Canadian content creator that they can’t produce programming that will run on an American station. That just seems rather incredible.

    Canada is a country that thumps its chest about free trade every time Canadian-based big business wants to sell something to the Americans, but apparently they want that freedom to be a one-way street, or it doesn’t apply to an ethnic small business.

  10. Profile photo of Eric Jon Magnuson


    While I can’t monitor it myself, a couple of tweets by Airchecker (one last night, and one an hour or two ago) say that Radio India is still broadcasting.

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