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Canada27 August 2004

Temporary reprieve for CHOIradioX

The government and the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) have both said they do not object to Quebec radio station CHOIradioX continuing to broadcast pending a decision on its future, they said in documents sent to the federal appeal court on 25 August.

Under an agreement between the radio station and the CRTC, the commission raises no objection to a suspension of its decision to close the radio on 31 August for comments made on air that brought it in conflict with the Broadcasting Act and the code of ethics. The CTRC will also not stand in the way of the station appealing the commission’s decision.

A full hearing on the facts of the case will take place on 4 March 2005. The CRTC and CHOIradioX will both attend the federal appeal court before that date to deal with the preliminary matter of the suspension.

22.07.2004 - Radio station censored in Quebec

Reporters Without Borders voiced concern about the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC)’s refusal to renew the broadcasting licence of the Quebec radio station CHOIradioX, calling it an "an precedented case of curbing freedom of expression" in the French-speaking Canadian province.

"Silencing a station just because of controversial remarks during a daily programme is excessive and amounts to censorship," the worldwide press freedom organisation said.

The 13 July move against the station followed supposedly "offensive" and "abusive" comments made on the air by Jean-François Fillion, presenter of a popular morning show, "Le monde parallèle de Jeff" (Jeff’s World), and by André Arthur, of the station CKNU, who until recently joined Fillion for 30 minutes during the show.

The remarks were considered to contravene the Broadcasting Act and the code of ethics the station, which is owned by the Genex Communications group, is meant to follow.

The station was already warned in 2002 and after getting 47 complaints from listeners, the CRTC gave it an operating licence for two years instead of the usual seven. But 45 more complaints were received.

CHOI owner Patrice Demers plans to appeal the decision to the country’s Federal Court.

The station’s broadcasting licence expires on 31 August. Protests against the cancellation have been staged in Quebec and a demonstration is planned for 22 July by staff of the station, which has some 380,000 listeners. The new federal minister of heritage, Liza Frulla, has said she will seek a legal opinion on the CRTC ruling.

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