CBC Radio provides important services year-round to Yukoners. These include a wide range of information people need to ensure their health, safety and security.
However, when CBC removes its Whitehorse transmitter from land it leases from the Yukon government in Porter Creek and switches to using an existing tower on Grey Mountain, the plan includes changing its operating signal to FM from AM.
As FM transmission has a limited radius, this means that listeners living on the fringes of the existing broadcast area or in remote locations will lose their radio service. Exactly how many people may be affected by this development is uncertain, but it could be more than anticipated.
Due to ongoing budget cuts, the CBC says it lacks the financial resources to replace or relocate the existing AM transmitter so it can continue broadcasting here on the AM band.
I find this unacceptable, as no doubt does everyone who depends on our national broadcaster for accurate and timely information when the weather turns severe, floodwaters threaten, a forest fire rampages or a potentially lethal flu virus crosses our border.
Some citizens are so concerned they are circulating a petition for tabling in the House of Commons and the Yukon legislative assembly. It calls for the maintenance of permanent AM transmission from Whitehorse.
During the spring sitting of the Yukon legislature, MLAs unanimously passed a motion urging the federal government to provide sufficient resources to allow the CBC’s northern service to continue producing a high standard of service within the territory while implementing needed financial restraint measures.
All who spoke in favour of this motion had high praise for CBC and the broad range of informative and entertaining programming it provides.
Here is some of what Justice Minister Marian Horne said on this issue: “One of the major concerns I have as a Yukoner, and as a rural MLA, is that when budget pressures are present, like they are these days, that the CBC’s senior management will cut those programs and services that are furthest away from their offices.”
I could not agree more with her.
Therefore, I am using the open letter format to bring this issue to the attention of the general public, politicians at every level of government here, as well as senior officials at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, as I believe the decision to broadcast entirely in FM is not in the best interests of many Yukoners.
I strongly encourage the government of Canada, the government of Yukon and the city of Whitehorse to work co-operatively with the CBC to find a solution that ensures the existing service is maintained.
Steve Cardiff, MLA, Mount Lorne