The group pushing for a new community radio station in Vernon has passed another hurdle.
The Vernon Community Radio Society (VCRS) is hoping to launch a new, not-for-profit station to serve Greater Vernon.
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) issued a public notice Friday to advise that while the market cannot support a new commercial station, the commission will place the VCRS application on an upcoming public hearing agenda.
“We expect that the public hearing date will be in the spring,” said Gord Leighton, who has spearheaded the VCRS push for a new station.
Vernon’s two commercial radio stations, the Pattison-owned Beach Radio 107.5 FM and the Bell-owned 105.7 The Sun did not oppose the introduction of a community station to the market, but both expressed concerns that the proposed community advertising schedule resembled that of a commercial station which could have a negative impact on their stations.
The CRTC said in its analysis that while the provincial economy is performing “relatively well,” the local Vernon economy has a population growth rate and median total income lower than the provincial average, and an unemployment rate above the B.C. average (according to the 2016 Census).
Similarly, said the commission, the local radio market is underperforming relative to other non-designated markets, and a new commercial station “would likely have an undue financial impact on the incumbent stations in the market.”
The commission, however, said it is of the view that community stations, “being partially reliant on volunteers, grants and fundraising to ensure their viability, generally do not raise concerns pertaining to commercial impact.”
The community station would be known as Valley FM, and would be located at 97.9 on the dial.