FM the second, and only, choice

FM the second, and only, choice I am writing in response to the letter written by Steve Cardiff on behalf of the Yukon NDP Caucus published the week of June 8. While we were delighted to read the recognition given by Cardiff and colleagues of CBC North

I am writing in response to the letter written by Steve Cardiff on behalf of the Yukon NDP Caucus published the week of June 8.

While we were delighted to read the recognition given by Cardiff and colleagues of CBC North’s pre-eminence in the community and the quality of what we offer our listeners, we thank them for their acknowledgement of the work we do. However, we believe there are a few points that merit some clarification.

Our application currently before the CRTC to switch to the FM band is not the result of a problem with our current AM transmitter – the tower works very well where it is. CBC North entered into this lease November 1958. The territorial government has decided to not renew our lease of the land where our AM transmitter currently sits in order to make way for a proposed residential development.

We have been in discussion with the city about this issue for seven years and, over that time, we have offered different proposals to reduce the impact of our presence on the land and to maintain the AM service that we know is highly valued by many in the region.

None of these proposals were accepted and we are now required to vacate the current site on September 30, 2009.

The problem of relocating the transmitter predates CBC’s current financial pressures; however, the costs associated with relocating an AM tower are too much to bear, and if funds were available we simply don’t have an appropriate place to put a new AM transmitter as they require lots of space. (The current footprint is more than three hectares.)

Given these challenges, we decided on the FM solution because we have an existing FM transmitter site that we can leverage. However, it will still cost about $750,000 to switch over the signal.

Depending on the decision of the CRTC (the hearings start on July 21), our plan is to broadcast simultaneously on both the AM and FM transmitters for a short time late this summer. This will allow our engineers to adjust the FM signal without interfering with the reception of programming.

Finally, it is important to underscore that decisions about service in the North are not made in isolation. As managing director of CBC North, I sit at the table and am an active participant in any decision the CBC makes that affects the three northern territories. Across the country, managing directors give senior executives at the CBC our regions’ perspective in any discussion.

John Agnew, managing director

CBC North

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