Saltspring Island radio station CFSI-FM has been sold for more than $330,000 to a Surrey-based company that specializes in Indo-Canadian programming, sparking a controversy about a possible change in format.
The sale will transfer ownership of 107.9 FM from the Salt Spring Island Radio Corp. to Satnam Media Group, effective March 1.
The station, which went to air on Sept. 14, 2009, broadcasts a community-oriented format, with programming that ranges from music to cultural affairs. It is the only station on Saltspring and is a source of information for local residents.
The deal was approved by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission on Jan. 21, though news of the sale did not reach the public until last week. The community of Saltspring and volunteers at the station were not aware of the sale until an online report appeared Friday.
Misinformation about the delay in announcing the deal caused an unnecessary commotion in the community, Salt Spring Island Radio Corp. owner Gary Brooks said. He said a deal wasn’t announced because the deal was not yet official.
“Any business deal, until it’s closed, it’s not closed,” Brooks said Tuesday. “It still hasn’t but we needed to address this because of all the scurrilous things that have been said. It shouldn’t have happened like this.”
Rumours claimed that CFSI “was no longer going to be a community radio station” because its new owners already specialize in Punjabi programming in other markets, Brooks said. “That’s just not true.”
CFSI is run primarily by volunteers, many of whom are fearful their station will flip formats come March 1, station manager Dave Gordon said. After meeting with Brooks and Satnam Media Group co-owner Sukhdave Singh Dhillon, he said he’s taking Dhillon at his promise that CFSI will not be folded into his growing empire.
“I asked him where we are going, and he told me there weren’t going to be many changes,” Gordon said.
“I am going to take that at face value.”
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