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TV Niagara to file court challenge

BY GREG FURMINGER Tribune Staff

Printed from www.wellandtribune.ca web site Thursday, December 22, 2005 - © 2005  Welland Tribune

Thursday, December 22, 2005 - 09:00

Local News - WELLAND - Wendell Wilks is still programmed to get a Niagara television station up and running.

And Welland city council is backing the businessman who claims the CRTC’s decision handed down last month not to grant TVN Niagara a license violated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

I was tremendously disappointed when I read the decision, and I read it in detail, said Ward 2 Coun. Barry Sharpe.

At Tuesday night’s council meeting, politicians endorsed a resolution supporting Wilks, who is putting an argument together that the CRTC ruling is in violation of freedom of the press and other media.

Wilks says it would be the first such challenge.

There has never been an argument on Constitutional grounds, he said in an address to council, saying he spoke as a Niagaran who is not being treated fairly and not as a jilted applicant.

Wilks said it’s unfair that said anyone can start a newspaper or produce an online newscast, and they don’t have to jump through the same hoops as someone wanting to provide the same information via TV.

Wilks, who said he’s been accused of being the Don Quixote of Niagara for tilting at windmills, has plans to start what he said would be Canada’s first entirely high-definition television station, starting with 34.5 hours a week of local programming costing some 3.96 million.

Those figures include 19.5 hours of local news that would cost the station 2.4 million.

Wilks criticized claims of Toronto and Hamilton stations that say they are tuned into Niagara.

We are a place where there’s a lot more than calamities and tragedies and body-bag stories, he said of what he perceives to be their only interest in the region.

He also said they worked together against his application at licence hearings in June.

We think they do not want Niagara infringing on their revenue.

Ward 1 Coun. David Alexander compared the TVN bid to the Avro Arrow plan scrapped by John Diefenbaker’s Conservative government in the 50s.

Larger forces conspired to take that away, Alexander said, adding many still have ill feelings about that decision.

Wilks said Toronto station owners have not made efforts to open a station in Niagara because they have maxed out their licensing abilities.

That, he suggested, leaves him and his partners alone in trying to bring a station to Niagara.

ID- 138359
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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