CKUT Against Austerity

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March 29, 2017, Montreal QC

This past year, community radio in Montreal has been met with immense financial and organizational challenges. The struggle for financial sustainability has harmed the values upon which community radio was founded. As another community radio station in Montreal with our own set of financial challenges, we cannot stay silent during this disheartening battle for the airwaves. We see that those who are most marginalized in society are the first to be affected during a financial crisis. We want to ask, how much are we willing to sacrifice for a future that no longer reflects the radical, community-orientated, participatory roots from which community radio grew? How much of a choice do we have in an increasingly neoliberalized media landscape?

Radio Centre-Ville was formed by members of five different linguistic communities coming together to respond to a need for multilingual media in the St-Louis neighbourhood, but also the city of Montreal more broadly. It was born out of 1970s Quebec, a time rife with social movements. In the Quebec media landscape, Radio Centre-Ville is one of the longest running community radio stations with a multilingual licence.

Financial cuts to community radio is not a one-off event, but a structural transformation enabled by current austerity measures that have continued to cut public funding and increase privatization. This means that community radio stations are ever more susceptible to becoming commercial and violate their mandates to provide community-oriented programming. We have witnessed these changes in the community radio sector in Toronto and are now witnessing these changes here in Montreal, with the recent cancellations in programming at CIBL and Radio Centre-Ville.

We lament the fact that more and more community stations find themselves pushed into such positions. We, as community radio stations, need to collectively strategize and mobilize against the cuts to public funding, in a greater effort to continue the spirit of community radio.

CKUT’s relationship with Radio Centre-Ville goes back into history, when in 1972, they broadcasted from our studios back when we were called “Radio McGill.” We stand with all those who are driven to support integrity in community radio. As much as we need to adapt to the financial crises that we are facing, we need to continue seeking out alternatives, because right now, we are that alternative.

Love and rage,

514 448 4041