The NCRA advocates for our members, and for the campus and community radio sector as a whole, with the federal government, other industry groups, and stakeholders to work for fairer regulation, financing, and awareness of the sector's needs.
In relation to the CRTC, we advocate for flexible regulation that supports our stations in fulfilling their mandate, and removes barriers to development and adoption of new technologies. We also advocate for a sustainable funding mechanism for the sector, frequency reservation for campus/community radio, protection for low power FM signals, and more.
The NCRA has developed working relations with the CRTC that have served our sector well. In recent years, the NCRA has worked together with l'Alliance des radios communautaires du Canada (ARC du Canada) and l'Association des radiodiffuseurs communautaires du Québec (ARC du Québec), to represent the sector as a whole. Together the three associations represent 135 of the (approx.) 150 campus and community radio stations in Canada. These three associations participated jointly in the 2009-2010 campus and community radio policy review (outcome pending).
We achieved most of our agenda during the CRTC's previous policy review for campus and community radio in 1999-2000, including the creation of the Developmental License category. We have also represented community radio interests at hearings regarding official languages in radio, new media, and the potential licensing of satellite radio networks.
The CRTC relies on the NCRA to help reach and canvass our members, and we helped facilitate the cross-country sector consultations that preceded the policy review. We also assist our members with compliance and dealing with broadcasting regulations, which reduces the CRTC's administrative workload.
We also regularly intervene with the CRTC in proceedings and hearings concerning our member stations. Several submissions to the CRTC are attached to articles in the news section of our site.
The NCRA has also been very active representing campus and community radio in the fast developing area of copyright. As new tariffs are regularly proposed, the NCRA works with the Copyright Board of Canada to minimize the potential negative impact for stations. The component of SOCAN tariff 22 proposed for online use of music, was proposed with a minimum monthly rate that would have cost stations thousands in retroactive costs - we and others opposed the tariff and avoided the minimum charge, for now. In 1992 the NCRA won a reduction of almost 50% in the annual SOCAN fees and in 1999 ensured that campus stations were included in an community radio exemption for the Neighbouring Rights Copyright Collective. These successes continue to save campus/community stations thousands of dollars every year.
At the same time, copyright reform legislation is in the works. The existing copyright system presents problems for campus and community radio, including increasing, proliferating and unforeseeable (sometimes retroactive) new tariff charges, barriers to adopting new media and new distribution technologies, penalties for digital archiving (which is often a necessary step in radio production), and no consideration of fairness or ability to pay in tariff decisions.
Campus and community radio need the following things in a reformed copyright system:
· A reasonable cap on tariffs payable by campus and community broadcasters
· A limit on new tariffs applicable to NFP broadcasters to current and future years only, so that they may not be charged retroactively for using material.
· The elimination of DRM, or an exception allowing stations to circumvent DRM for legitimate broadcasting or journalistic purposes.
· An oversight mechanism for the Copyright Board of Canada, empowered to evaluate proposed tariffs in light of ability to pay, likely consequences of certifying a tariff, and economic fairness.
The Government of Canada does not fund the campus and community radio sector. In not funding our mandate, the federal overnment is missing out on an opportunity to support Canadian emerging and independent artists; local culture, news and information; public access to the airwaves; services to official language minority communities; and stability for grassroots organizations who create jobs, train volunteers, and serve their communities in many ways.
Canadian Heritage is the federal agency that supports arts and cultural organizations, and we believe that it is Canadian Heritage which should create a funding program to support campus and community radio stations and their member-based associations. As an example, the Quebec Ministry of Culture, Communications, and the Status of Women has a program to financially assist community media. The province of Quebec is proud of the program's success and Quebec's community media rely on its consistent support. We advocate for Canadian Heritage to create a similar program for the benefit of community media in all Canadian communities.
We also work with Canadian Heritage to help in their ongoing study of the c/c radio sector, and to seek funding for NCRA operations and projects.
Industry Canada manages the broadcast spectrum in Canada, including protection for radio frequencies and other technical regulations. We participate in Industry Canada's Broadcast Technical Advisory Committee to keep abreast of changes to existing regulations, the possibility of a transition to digital radio, the problem of spectrum scarcity, and other broadcasting issues.
COMMUNITY RADIO FUND OF CANADA
The NCRA, ARC du Canada and ARC du Québec worked together for years to establish the CRFC, a mechanism to enable stable funding for the sector. Now that the Fund is established, we work with the other two associations and with the Fund's Board of Directors to try to raise resources for the CRFC, so that it can reach its potential for supporting the stability, growth and development of campus and community radio in Canada.