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Canada: Porn OK But Christian Radio is Not

by Craig Gross on September 6th, 2008 in The Haps

Las time I was in Canada it was for Porn and Pancakes. There were no pancakes but bacon and eggs instead. Today, I read about this story out of Canada that is a little backwards as well but I guess the Canadians don’t want to hear any Newsboys, Tomlin or Toby Mac.

OTTAWA – The CRTC – the same agency that
recently gave two thumbs-up to a homegrown Canadian porn TV network –
has nixed two applications for Christian radio stations in the Ottawa
area, and that has left some supporters of the religious proposals very
unhappy.

Ottawa’s CHRI came to a recent hearing of the Canadian
Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission with 780 letters of
support for a new FM station that would have played traditional
Christian music, hymns and classical music targeting an older audience.
Gatineau resident Fiston Kalambay Mutombo also attended the hearing to
propose a French-language Christian station.

Only two broadcast
slots were available and neither went to the Christian proposals.
Instead, Astral Media Corp. got a spot at 99.7 on the dial, with just
77 letters of support for a soft adult music station aimed at older
women.

Astral’s EVE-FM should go on the air in about five months. The other available slot, at 101.9, went to a blues station.

Robert
du Broy, CHRI co-founder and vice-president, said he doesn’t know why
Ottawa needs two more secular stations. Most American cities the size
of Ottawa have at least four Christian stations. CHRI’s current
operation has between 30,000 and 40,000 listeners in Ottawa, Pembroke
and Cornwall, playing contemporary Christian music for a youth audience.

Just
a few weeks ago, the CRTC approved Northern Peaks, a porn cable channel
based in Alberta, leaving many to wonder about its values as a
government regulator.

“The approval of (Northern Peaks) was quite
offensive,” said Don Hutchison, director of law and public policy for
the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada. “The CRTC has, for the past 15
years, sent a strong message they don’t like Christian broadcasting,
but they will allow it with heavy restrictions.”

Ottawa listener
David MacDonald, who used to have his own Christian radio program, is
more blunt: “It’s really getting tough to be a Christian in a country
that was founded on Christian values.

“On Normandy Beach, what you see is a big cross … you don’t see a big dildo.”

The
cable TV approval is not quite the same as the radio licences. There
were only two spots available on the FM band in Ottawa, but there are
hundreds of cable spots. As well, Northern Peaks can’t be bundled with
other channels, so viewers must subscribe and pay for it separately.

As
to the new Ottawa radio stations, Astral agreed to emphasize Canadian
music and programming and invest almost $6 million over seven years in
Canadian content development.

That seemed to be part of the
appeal with Northern Peaks as well. Under the licensing conditions, it
will broadcast at least 50 per cent Canadian content. The parent
company, Real Productions, owns more than 200 Canadian porn titles and
plans to develop a sex-industry reality TV series set in B.C.

The man behind Northern Peaks, Shaun Donnelly, believes the Canadian programming will be a selling point.

Mr.
du Broy knew he would have some trouble with CHRI’s proposal, because
the CRTC requires balance in religious broadcasting. Christian music
doesn’t have to be offset with, say, Jewish or Muslim music, but
Christian talk programs must be countered with discussion about other
faiths. Announcers at CHRI find themselves in the bizarre situation of
working for a Christian station without being able to talk much about
Christianity for fear of triggering the “balance” issue. His proposal
for the new station would have included approximately 71 minutes of
daily programming concerning other faiths, particularly Judaism.

The
CRTC did not respond to Citizen requests for comment, but last year a
spokesman said it’s “unlikely that a single-faith station could be
balanced” without some programming on other faiths. The spokesman was
asked if it was possible to get a licence without programming from
other faiths. “I’m not going to respond to that,” he said.

In
1993, the CRTC decided to ease some requirements, particularly for
specialty cable channels on religious programming, but some
commissioners dissented.

“We are disturbed by the extent of
social, cultural, and racial intolerance which is often rooted in
religious intolerance,” they cautioned. “One need only look to Bosnia,
the Middle East, India, Northern Ireland, South Africa and other world
‘trouble spots’ to observe this phenomenon in its most violent form.
Such cultural and racial intolerance is less dramatic and violent, but
no less real, in Canada.”

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