Confusion about city’s role at Surrey CRTC hearing

GUILDFORD — Despites some people claiming the contrary, Coun. Tom Gill said he was not representing the City of Surrey during this week’s Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) hearings when he spoke in favour of one application in particular.

The hearings are being held to potentially award several radio frequencies, with Surrey being the priority for most of the 17 applicants. During the process, applicants were given a chance to make their case for why they would be most deserving of the frequency applied for, with many wanting 107.7 FM for Surrey. The hearings were then opened up to anyone to speak for or against the applications, during which Coun. Tom Gill spoke in favour of South Fraser Broadcasting Inc., an applicant proposing an English-language commercial radio station.

While Gill did not specifically state he was appearing as a representative of the City of Surrey during the hearings the confusion seems to stem from Gill’s appearance and the applicant, Suki Badh, showing a City of Surrey video during their presentation.

Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts said she had received numerous calls afterwards asking why the City of Surrey was endorsing one particular applicant, to which she responded,

“There was no representation by the city. I understand one of the applicants had used a city video and I sent a letter off to the CRTC saying the city does not endorse one applicant and we remain neutral,” she said, adding, “All applicants should go through the process as it should be.”

For his part, Gill said he was not there as a representative of the city, but rather as a citizen of Surrey.

“I was not representing the City of Surrey I was representing myself as an individual,” he said when asked Thursday.

Rather, Gill said he was there to encourage the CRTC to consider Badh’s application from the perspective of a Surrey resident.

“My position is very simple, I think the South Asian radio stations that we have in the greater Vancouver region are more than appropriate to serve the listenership and demand and my intent yesterday was to support an English radio channel,” he said.

“I’m hoping if a mainstream station does materialize we can start focusing on Surrey culture, what are the Surrey issues that kind of thing. I think it would really benefit Surrey to have a Surrey-focused radio station and that was my intent.”

As for the city video being shown during South Fraser Broadcasting’s presentation, Gill said he was not aware that anyone had taken the city’s assets.

“I have no idea where they got the video and I did not go into any other portions of the meeting,” he said.

To view Gill’s testimony before the CRTC, click here.

The CRTC hearings are expected to wrap up today and a decision is expected in the coming months.

Twitter @Questionchris

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