BROKERED PROGRAMMING AT TRENT RADIO BoD approved and Membership confirmed 06 Dec 97 prepared by Ad Hoc Committee on Paid Religious Broadcasting Background; Since at least 1993, it has been clear that Trent Radio has been short of core funds for basic operations. Even with the use of imaginative solutions to minimise cost, the fact remained that there were not the resources to underwrite operations, and this situation was exacerbated when the need arose to meet essential capital expenditures. The budget model for operations, approved by the Board, the Membership and the CRTC, includes two full-time salaries, with the attendant costs of supply and expense and some prudent provision of funds for the replacement of capital assets. In general, the goal of a non-profit entity, such as Trent Radio is to neither create a surplus or deficit from its operations. While it might be obvious that continual deficits would bring the organisation to bankruptcy, large surpluses would indicate that funds were not being applied to their proper purposes, as stated in the aims and objects. Over the years Trent Radio has dealt with the chronic shortfall of funds in different ways with the result that in 1993, there was a modest salary for the Manager, while programme direction was rendered by a series of volunteers, part-time and contract employees, and sometimes not at all. The unevenness of programming support as core function, was judged unsatisfactory, and brought the organisation's continued legitimacy into question. In addition, technical maintenance was done on an emergency basis by the well meaning, underskilled, inexperienced and unequipped. Wear and tear had taken its toll on the building. On all fronts and in all areas, damage was seriously escalating, pushing needed repairs into the realm of very expensive or hopeless. A summary of the specific problems would include; not being able to transmit, continual equipment breakdown, a non functional second studio, an unserviceable telephone systems, dangerous electrical wiring, a broken furnace, extensive water seepage, bad plumbing, and a dirty and neglected facility. Bad moral was manifest by many hundreds of dollars of unauthorised long distance calls and the theft of a turntable. And, we still needed to change our transmission facilities. It was at this stage that the Board determined that every effort would be made to re-establish Trent Radio's core programming function while assessing and effecting repairs. This meant finding new funds of about $20,000 annually, over and above that required for the capital cost of a new transmitter. With that goal firmly established at the following AGM, staff lay-offs were deemed to be as only an immediate and temporary "fix" while a better solution was in development. Subsequent to an unsuccessful referendum campaign held in the spring of 1995 to secure these funds, the President of Trent Radio (Andrew Cousins) stated at the AGM, held later that year, that the organisation must diversify and increase its funding base. In due course, a number of funding sources were considered or reconsidered. Bank Loan; In negotiating the loan agreement with the Bank, Trent Radio undertook to find new funds from Sponsorship and Fundraising events. The loan payments amount to about $5,000 per year. It is hoped that Sponsorship and Fundraising will match this. Operational Funding; Other fundraising and earned revenue possibilities were carefully examined. Methods typical of other non-profit organisations, such as bingo or concert promotion were considered. In Peterborough, there is a waiting list with more than forty other registered charities wanting to carry on bingo events. It should be noted that this has become extremely competitive as more and more groups have had their grants and funding cut. While doing Radio Bingo might be a possibility in the future, there is a significant capital outlay for materials and equipment and a lag in card sales before this activity breaks even. There have also been some recent events which might indicate that this community is close to saturation for lotteries, raffles and bingo. Some recent and past experiences with concert promotion have shown that this activity, while often very good for publicity, seldom produces more than a meagre surplus. Brokered Programming; In July 1996, a proposal was received from Target Broadcasting to air Christian Fundamentalist content. Under a one year contract, paid programming would be aired every weekday morning from 7-8am. In return, Trent Radio would receive about $17,500. In August of 1997, the Board resolved to pursue this as a fundraising measure and struck a committee to review samples of the programmes and to report its decisions and recommendations with respect to the details and terms to the Board. In regards to paid programming - buying a block of air time; The pros and cons of selling time in a block vs advertising were discussed. The argument was made that a further 15 - 20 messages of sponsorship a day would be more intrusive than an hour aired in the early morning. There was some concern about how we would organise the broadcasts, in that this is a payment for performance contract. It was decided that Trent Radio should not devote more than one hour a day or five percent of the available broadcast time for paid programming. On balance, it was felt the need for funds warranted the use of our transmission facilities for this purpose for the time being. In regards to the religious content; The CRTC encourages licensees to reflect the religious and spiritual needs of the communities they serve. The concept of reflection is founded on the principle that the licensee's right to use the public air waves entails a responsibility to those members of the Canadian public resident in a licensee's service area. This reflects Trent Radio's organising principle - to share its resources with the community as a whole. It was acknowledged that there remains a degree of controversy frequently associated with religious practices and beliefs. Concerns were raised as to whether specific groups or individuals would be attacked. The CRTC guidelines on ethics for religious programming specifically state that; No programs shall have the effect of abusing or misrepresenting any individual or group. While groups and ministries are free to express their views about activities that they deem to be "sinful", they shall not call into question the human rights or dignity of any individual or group. It was determined that Trent Radio should adopt and follow these and other guidelines as set out in the CRTC Public Notice 1993-74 and that those entities providing the content would agree to abide by the law of the land. It was noted that other radio stations air these programmes in compliance with CRTC guidlines. (thr guidelines can be found at Trent Radio's website.) Concern was expressed regarding the potential for listener's displeasure with the views expressed by Fundamentalist programming. The CRTC's policy on balance states that; It remains a principal tenet of the Canadian broadcasting system that licensees should provide balance on matters of public concern. Simply stated, the Commission's balance policy seeks to ensure that a reasonably consistent viewer listener will be exposed to a spectrum of differing views on issues of public concern within a reasonable period of time. Freedom of expression has always been a fundamental consideration under this policy. Such freedom includes both the right to speak and the right to be informed. The Broadcast Act declares that the airwaves are public property, and that the programming of the Canadian broadcasting system is a public service. Accordingly, it is reasonable to give preference, as the Act does, to the right of the audience to be informed about differing views on matters of public concern. Correspondingly, those who choose to express their views should be able to do so in a tolerant and welcoming environment. It was concluded that any consistent listening to Trent Radio would provide a very broad spectrum of differing views indeed. Balance at Trent Radio is found by sharing the airwaves. Taken together, this *and* other programming which may or may not be supportive, hostile or indifferent to spirituality and/or more formally organised religious/advocacy projects create that balance. It was stated that it may be hypocritical to ban or even avoid this content, particularly when not long ago many other communities which now enjoy legitimate and valid broadcast voices found themselves shunned from the air. Concern was expressed regarding complaints and how they might best be dealt with. The Committee recommends that a file for complaints be opened for consideration as part of a year end review. Complainants will be asked to articulate, as specifically as they can, the nature of their objection. Further, should anything be scheduled for broadcast which is deemed to be unlawful, the specific programme will be withdrawn and the programme provider informed. Summary Recommendations; That Trent Radio adopt the CRTC policy on religious broadcasting, as articulated in Public Notice 1993-78 That Trent Radio air paid fundamentalist Christian broadcasts from Target Broadcasting at sixty six dollars per hour for one year. That a review be conducted of this contract prior to renewal.