A small online radio station on Salt Spring Island is the latest collateral damage of the standoff between Meta and the Canadian government over Bill C-18.
The bill forces tech giants to compensate Canadian news agencies for their content, but Damian Inwood says that ban shouldn’t apply to his small operation.
“I never thought that we would become a target for that,” says Inwood, president of the Gulf Islands Radio Society.
Meta’s ban makes the Facebook pages of news agencies inaccessible to Canadians, but Inwood’s situation is unique. CHIR Radio produces no news.
“We don’t have a news reporter,” says Inwood.
The station exists strictly online. Inwood says he’s close to the $50,000 needed to purchase the equipment required to broadcast an FM signal to the Gulf Islands, and the Facebook page plays an integral part in the society’s fundraising. “We sell CDs and vinyl records, all donated,” he says.
CHIR sells records and CDs at Salt Spring’s Saturday market and promotes the sales on Facebook, but that all changed Friday.
“I found out we’d been shut down, with a message saying it was because of federal legislation,” says Inwood.
Jason Jackson is a Salt Spring resident and is aware of Inwood’s efforts to get a radio station off the ground. “Some giant corporation is sticking its nose in so Salt Springers can’t talk to Salt Springers? That’s not right.”
Inwood isn’t sure why CHIR, which operates out of a portable behind Salt Spring Elementary, made Meta’s list. “We feel like we’re an ant being squashed by an elephant.”
Despite the setback, Inwood still pegs January for the station’s FM launch. In the meantime, he’s appealing to Facebook, and contacting his local MP and MLA.
“I could write to Mark Zuckerberg I guess, but I don’t think that would do much good.”