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Vernon community radio gets green light to launch Valley FM

Image Credit: SUBMITTED: Vernon Community Radio Society
September 02, 2020 - 6:30 PM

The Vernon Community Radio Society has been given the green light to launch 97.9 Valley FM.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission approved a broadcasting licence for the not-for-profit-organization to run an FM radio station in Vernon.

The Vernon Community Radio Society president Gord Leighton said he hoped the station would be up and running by next spring.

Leighton said the next step was to launch a fundraising campaign to raise the $60,000 to $75,000 needed to open the station.

Once up and running, Valley FM will broadcast 121 hours of local programming per week, with 75 per cent of news coverage being local. The radio station's programs will be 20 per cent spoken word, with 15 per cent being locally produced. The station will also play a variety of different music, which will be different from the other Vernon commercial stations, Beach and Sun FM.

Leighton, a veteran of commercial radio with more than five decades of experience under his belt, said the idea to start a community station happened in early 2018. The Vernon Community Radio Society formed and submitted an application to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission in October 2018.

"It's been a long wait," he said.

Without a licence, the organization could not really fundraise, so raising the cash to launch the station is now its top priority. Leighton said with changing in technology in just the last two years the cost to launch the station should be less than the $100,000 originally estimated.

Valley FM plans to have its studio in downtown Vernon and have some paid staff along with volunteers.

According to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission decision, the station's application received 40 interventions of support. However, not everybody was in support of a new radio station. The decision says Jim Pattison Broadcast Group, who owns Vernon's Beach Radio filed an intervention in opposition.

The decision says the Pattison Group argued the economic conditions were such that Valley FM would do "significantly more harm" to its station than the Society's application projected.

"Pattison argued that economic conditions are trending downwards... and submitted that the Vernon market performs below the national and provincial radio averages," reads the decision. "Pattison expressed skepticism at the applicant’s ability to cultivate 50 per cent of its revenue from new advertisers given that Pattison and Bell Media are sophisticated and experienced broadcast companies that employ experienced sales managers and make every effort to ensure viability in this small market."

However, the Commission didn't buy it, stating that, "the proposed community station would not have an undue negative financial impact on existing stations in the market" and issued the licence.

For more information about Valley FM go here.

To read the full CRTC decision go here.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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