The National Campus and Community Radio Association (NCRA) wants all campus-based radio stations and established student media organizations designated as essential services, following a move by the Ontario government to allow post-secondary students to opt-out of non-essential tuition fees.
The association issued a press release Wednesday, saying it is deeply concerned that the changes could result in significant loss of funding for 19 Ontario campus stations, dozens of student media organizations like campus newspapers, and other key student services.
“The essential services designation would recognize the fees that go towards campus radio as mandatory and students would no longer have the option to opt out,” NCRA executive director Barry Rooke, told Broadcast Dialogue.
Rooke said he’s confident a case can be made for the designation as campus stations provide an important outlet for both emergency broadcasting and access to information, in addition to serving as a training ground for students to hone skills in broadcasting, podcasting and station governance.
“If these stations were partially de-funded, it would lead to a degradation of campus life and the communities these stations serve,” said Rooke, who indicated the association, along with student unions, are waiting to hear more details of the proposed changes at a technical briefing expected later this week.
The NCRA says campus radio stations in Ontario employ approximately 150 full and part-time staff, a majority of whom are students.
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