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The St. Catharines Standard
Local Section, Page A3
Tuesday, February 15, 2005

June hearings in Falls for Niagara TV station’s bid

By ERIK WHITE Standard Staff

Niagara will have a front-row seat when a proposed local TV station has its day in court.

The website of Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission states that hearings on a Niagara television licence will be held in Niagara Falls June 6.

The formal announcement of the hearings, after which the details of all bids are made available to the public, isn’t expected for several more weeks.

But Television Niagara president Wendell Wilks, whose October 2003 application set off the process, is still pleased at this hint that his request to hold the hearings in the region has been granted.

I think it’s an excellent sign that they take our application very seriously,” he said Monday.

“It’s an experience Niagara’s never had. We didn’t want something so important to Niagara to be held in some faraway city, so local people couldn’t participate in the process.”

The hearings—where radio licences for Woodstock and North Bay will also be considered—will allow the public to comment on the proposals and will also hear challenges from existing local media.

The website also names a second bidder for the licence, but he claims he isn’t interested in a Niagara station.

“No way,” said Jan Pachul of Star Ray TV.

He earned a reputation as the rebel of Canadian television by continuing to run his Toronto-based station without a licence for several years. For the past two years, Star Ray has broadcasted no pictures, only sound.

Pachul said he applied for a low-power licence, meaning his channel could only be picked up on Toronto sets, in June. He believes the website made a clerical error.

No officials at the CRTC could be reached for comment or clarification Monday afternoon.

Wilks, who also believes the Pachul listing is a mix-up, said he figures rival applicants were scared off by the two years he’s spent in the region preparing his bid.

“They were asking people to do in 90 days what I did in over two years,” the 63-year-old said.

After a long career producing musical specials and being involved in the launch of Edmonton’s ITV and Burling-based Christian channel CTS, Wilks moved to St. Catharines in 2002.

He envisioned an intensely local TV station in a region traditionally carved up by signals from Toronto, Hamilton and Buffalo.

The TVN application calls for 40 hours of local programming produced by some 95 employees at studios in St. Catharines and Niagara Falls, as well as smaller operations in Welland and on the Six Nations Reserve near Brantford.

But reaching the Toronto advertising market is also vital to TVN, and the bulk of the annual $12-13 million operating costs would be generated by a weekly lineup of 40 classic movies.

“We can’t wait,” said Wilks. “We’ve been ready for such a long time”.

Listen to TVN's CEO Wendell Wilks on a radio interview from CHSC.
A terrific interview in MP3 format, which you can stream from our site or download in four segments.

To download these files, please RIGHT-CLICK on the link and select "Save Target As" to save the MP3 files onto your computer.
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