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John Mahoney's Free-fire Zone
John Mahoney
John Mahoney
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is editor of the Log Cabin Chronicles.

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Posted 06.05.02
Knowlton, Quebec

JOHN MAHONEY

Radio Missisquoi adopts 2-frequency strategy to get on the air

KNOWLTON, QC | The directors of Radio Communautaire Missisquoi (RCM) will ask the Canadian government to allow it to broadcast on two frequencies to fully cover its listener area.

RCM has dropped its plan to appeal to the Privy Council the rejection of its initial license application. The reason -- it could take years for a final decision and there would be "no chance" of funding if an appeal was pending.

Community radio activist Dewey Durrell says instead RCM plans to file an updated technical study with Industry Canada next week. RCM consulting engineer Peter Cahn is expected to wrap up his latest study by the weekend.

"We hope to have a favorable decision from Industry Canada by the end of June," says Durrell.

The next step in what mostly likely will a year-long process will be to submit another license application to the Canadian Radio & Television Commission (CRTC).

RCM, says Durrell, wants to use the 98.1 Mhz to cover most of its territory, and a low-power frequency -- as yet undetermined -- to cover Cowansville.

On May 6, the CRTC denied RCM a license to broadcast on the unused 101.9 Mhz frequency after CBC Radio objected, claiming they needed the frequency to repeat their Montreal programming in the Eastern Townships. The CRTC awarded the frequency to CBC, ruling that it would be the best use for the public.

There is a problem with the 98.1 Mhz frequency -- there is a small area of 'overlap' with signals from CHOM-FM and CKOO-FM, broadcasting from Montreal, and the station managers have balked at signing off on letting RCM interfere, even though it is way out at the edge of their broadcast area.

By slightly reducing their broadcast power -- say, from 800 watts down to 600 -- and using a low-power signal that will only cover Cowansville, Durrell believes all objections will be overcome.

Meanwhile, the supporters of community radio are keeping a close watch on a broadcast study by Industry Canada. At issue is the possibility of reducing the MHz frequency 'space' between FM stations. Currently, Canada requires double the amount of 'space' than the United States.

If Canada should line up with current US practice, says Durrell, RCM's broadcast frequency problem would be solved.

"At any rate," he says, "I'm very hopeful about this new approach."

Given a green light by Industry Canada, RCM faces another lengthy license application review by the CRTC and, if favorable, the drudge work of raising enough money to build a station, secure equipment, train staff, and get on-air.

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