Open letter to John Agnew from the citizens’ committee to maintain CBC AM broadcasting in southern Yukon:
You may remember me contacting you a few weeks ago concerning the possible elimination of the CBC AM transmitter in Whitehorse.
In the past two weeks a couple of events have caught my attention as being pertinent to this issue.
At Little Salmon Lake, just west of Carmacks, a forest fire threatened to close the Campbell Highway and threatened several residences. I’m certain that there were several people who were tuned to CBC 570 AM getting updates.
In southern BC there was the worst fire season in history. I heard on CBC there was a plan to co-ordinate communications to keep citizens informed as to the situation. Information would be dispersed via phone, internet, TV and radio. Here we have one part of this equation that we’re planning to eliminate.
I spoke to Whitehorse council on July 20. As expected they made no commitment one way or the other, but didn’t indicate any unwillingness to consider my point of view.
I hope you will take the time to read the attached letter I wrote the council concerning the meeting and especially to consider the map I submitted describing the scope of the AM transmitter.
I can assure you that the AM signal is readily available in the areas I describe. The core area (125 kilometres) has approximately 1,000 kilometres of highways and the highest concentration of human activity in the territory.
I want to emphasize this because I don’t know if the decision makers at the CBC were aware of the extent of the AM broadcast area.
The map found in the CBC engineering brief provided to the CRTC shows, I think quite accurately, the scope of the proposed FM transmitter.
As you can see, it is much more limited than the AM transmitter.
This corresponds with my own observations attempting to get the FM station on my car radio, while driving from my home to downtown Whitehorse, except that, even within the indicated broadcast area, there are numerous dead spots.
From the information I can glean from the engineering brief, this is to be expected as the FM signal is strictly line-of-sight, hence unavailable in canyons and depressions in the land, of which we have many.
I also have a question about the $700,000 cost you indicated for the relocation of the AM transmitter. How was this cost arrived at? How does it compare to the cost of a new FM transmitter?
I also am very interested in what occurred at the CRTC hearing last month. Did CBC advise the CRTC that Whitehorse has offered a three-year extension to the current site of the AM transmitter?
If so, what was the response of the CRTC?
Do you know when the CRTC will render its decision in this matter?
Can you provide me with information about what occurred at the hearing?
My understanding is that a transcript should be available on the CRTC website, but to date I have not seen it.
As I noted in the letter to city council, it is my understanding that the local CBC management doesn’t have the final say on this matter and this was also noted by John Boivin in his answers at the council meeting on July 20.
I think it would be a good time for the upper echelons of CBC management, who are the decision makers in this matter, to have a discussion concerning AM transmission in the Far North and the effect of their decisions on communities such as ours.
As you know, we have a vast area and a small, scattered population all over the North. Just because we are a small population, it does not justify a reduction in services. In fact, there is a strong argument that our small, relatively isolated population means that we need the services of CBC even more to keep us connected with one another, to our local community and to the rest of Canada.
The trend to FM broadcasting will impact a lot of people outside the urban centres. Is there any way to engage the appropriate people in this discussion?
Peter Beattie, citizens’ committee to maintain CBC AM transmission in southern Yukon