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CRTC Threatens Community TV Operator With Criminal Charges

Jan Pachul applied for a broadcast licence in 1999 to operate Star Ray TV on UHF channel 15. That application was denied by the CRTC due to complaints from the Canadian Association of Broadcasters, Canadian Cable Television Association, CTV, CHUM Television, and Rogers that there was no room left for any new broadcast television service in the Toronto market. These claims by Toronto's broadcast industry elites were proven disingenuous, as earlier this year the CRTC approved licence applications for 2 new broadcast TV stations in Toronto. One of them was awarded to Rogers Omni 2 TV44 whose broadcast signal barely reaches Etobicoke or East Toronto, less than 2 years after Rogers' intervention against Star Ray TV.

In August 2000, Star Ray TV began broadcasting, in defiance of the CRTC's rulings, in an effort to address the issue of the CRTC's lack of a policy for independently operated low-power community TV stations. For more than 2 years, Jan Pachul has been providing public access television throughout the communities of East Toronto on Star Ray TV channel 15 UHF, over the air. Many individuals, local groups, and political candidates have been able to express their views in feature programs. All have expressed delight in being able to get their message across to the viewers of Star Ray TV in segments longer than the 15 or 20 second "sound bites" of conventional commercial broadcasters.

Despite the absence of lawful low-power TV policy regulations in September 2001, the CRTC called Jan Pachul to a hearing in Hull, Quebec to determine whether a "mandatory order" be issued against Pachul to cease broadcasting. The bogus court's mandatory order was issued in November 2001, in an attempt to make Star Ray TV's broadcasts a criminal offence. Mr. Pachul received the following letter from the CRTC dated September 18, 2002:

Jan Pachul has been singlehandedly fighting to have the public's right to access the airwaves officially recognized by the CRTC for more than 6 years. In the past cable companies provided public access television on channel 10 or 12. Current CRTC television policy is ambiguous in that it only allows cable companies to provide public access TV channels at the cable company's discretion and on their terms. The result of this policy has led to much frustration for local and independent producers who seek public access to their local "community channel." Today the vast majority of cable companies use these channels as little more than promotional vehicles to sell their other services, and are anything but accessible to the general public.

The CRTC refused to accept any new licence application from Star Ray TV while it "studied" the concept of low-power community television that would be owned and operated independently of cable companies and the usual corporate broadcast industry players. The commission had been "studying" (sitting on) this idea for years and has just in the last few days released their new policy. In all due respect to the CRTC, to study public access television, they need look no further than the United States, several European countries, and other places around the world where independent public access TV stations have been in existence for more than 20 years.

For more information about Jan Pachul's efforts, and the CRTC and conventional broadcast industry's many attempts to thwart those efforts, visit the Star Ray TV site at www.srtv.ca

If you would like to show your support for Star Ray TV, write to your M.P. and voice your opinion. Together we can make a difference.

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