By Meg Olson
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has told Sher-E-Punjab to stop broadcasting.
In the order, issued November 13, the CRTC told the broadcaster it could “not carry on a broadcasting undertaking in Canada except in compliance with the Broadcasting Act” and for “Sher-E-Punjab to provide proof of the termination of arrangements with BBC Broadcasting Inc. and of the divestiture of certain interests.”
The commission held a hearing October 15 to investigate whether three radio stations were broadcasting in Canada without a license and transmitting their programming from Washington state into the lower mainland of B.C. in contravention of the Broadcasting Act. The CRTC decided they were. Radio Punjab and Radio India have also been ordered to stop broadcasting. Sher-E-Punjab and Radio Punjab had entered into consent orders with the CRTC giving them flexibility in shutting down. Radio India, however, did not, and was ordered to stop broadcasting immediately.
BBC Broadcasting Inc., which has been broadcasting Sher-E-Punjab’s programming from towers in Ferndale, has applied to erect five 150-foot towers in Point Roberts. The company is appealing a decision by the Whatcom County Hearing Examiner denying the application.
In a September 22 letter from Sher-E-Punjab to the CRTC, the company proposed that the Badh family would sell their interests in Sher-E-Punjab and BBC Broadcasting; this stipulation was expected to be part of the consent agreement.
Opponents of the Point Roberts tower farm view the regulatory action as more of a shuffle and not a hurdle for BBC Broadcasting’s plans to build a tower farm on the Point.
“Sher-E-Punjab may have been sold to BBC Broadcasting, an American company, (we have been told this but do not have proof) which could allow it to continue operation as long as the Badhs are not involved,” said Jennifer Urquhart, a member of the Cross Border Coalition to Stop the Towers.
“This is tricky stuff, but it does not affect plans to build towers in Point Roberts,” she said. “The point is, regardless of what the CRTC does, there is likely to be little or no impact on BBC Broadcasting’s construction plans and they are clearly going to chase this as far as the courts will allow.”