OPENING NOTES

BARBARA WICKENS December 11 1995

OPENING NOTES

BARBARA WICKENS December 11 1995

OPENING NOTES

Getting their signals crossed

A 24-watt light bulb would not throw off much heat, but a 24-watt radio station in Winnipeg,

CKVN, is burning up the staff at its giant rival, CJOB. Garth Buchko, manager of the 50,000-watt CJOB, which attracts nearly a quarter of all listeners per week in the area, has written to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), accusing CKVN of taking unfair advantage of Canada’s commercial radio regulations. Under the CRTC’s “open skies” policy, in effect since April, 1993, a person or organization can “facilitate a special event” by broadcasting from the event site for up to 28 days using a transmitter with less than 50 watts of power. Announcers may give on-air credit to sponsors, but the temporary operation cannot sell advertising. CKVN has made use of that provision three times

this year, including its current 28-day stint from the Western Canada Aviation Museum to mark Aviation Month. But Buchko says that CKVN’s announcers are not playing fair by constantly asking listeners for financial support. “If they want to be a radio station, then they should pay the fees that all of us other broadcasters have to pay,” he says. Naturally, CKVN owner Lee Smith puts his own spin on events. “It’s like a big street

gang trying to protect its turf,” says Smith, who notes that his operation has a broadcast range of only about four kilometres. “I can’t see why our exceedingly limited activity would harm CJOB’s bottom line in any way.” But Buchko insists that his complaint to the CRTC—which the federal regulator is investigating—is not merely a case of “the big guys picking on the little guys.” He explains: “It’s the principle that we’re fighting for.”

Dental distractions

For some people, a trip to the dentist is nothing short of a nightmare. But a Halifax-based company is using the latest in interactive compact disc technology to put the bite on their misery. The Birling Communications Group Inc. says The Escape Mechanism will distract and entertain patients who have a problem settling into the dentist’s chair. Wearing a pair of video eye shields with liquid-crystal screens and operating a hand-held controller, the patient can choose from a variety of entertainment options. For the reader, there are short stories by Edgar Allan Poe, Arthur Conan Doyle and others, as well as longer selections ranging from Anne of Green Gables to Dracula, and even the Bible. For computer game enthusiasts, there are several choices. And for those looking for even lighter material, there is a selection of jokes, including

elephant and light-bulb riddles. Sample: How many twits who ask stupid questions does it take to change a light bulb? Answer: Change it to what? With jokes that corny, the dentist will never know why the patient is groaning.

Singing from the same hymnbook

It seems that when the dollar talks, even religious rivals must listen. For the first time in the 78-year history of the Canadian Forces chaplaincy, Protestant and Roman Catholic clergy are being united under one command, Forced to reduce the chaplaincy’s budget by an estimated one-third, or about $4 million, Brig.-Gen. Jean Pelletier, the military’s chaplain general, says that the time has come to eliminate sectarian administrations. The 80,000-member Canadian Forces are 53-percent Catholic and 40-per-cent Protestant. (Less than one per cent of the military follow non-Christian religions—including 41 Jews and 26 Muslims—and six per cent say they have none at all.) In rough equivalency, the chaplaincy’s 156 officers, who range in rank from captain to general, include 94 Catholics and 62 Protestants. Historically, there have been two brigadiergenerals heading the unit, one a Catholic in charge of that faith’s clerics, the other a Protestant. Now Pelletier, who is a Catholic priest, is alone in the chaplaincy’s top rank. And, for the first time, the change has meant that senior Catholic officers have Protestant chaplains under their command, and vice versa. In poverty, there is unity.

POP MOVIES Top movies in Canada according to box-office receipts during the seven days that ended on Nov. 30. (In brackets: number of screens/ weeks showing.) 1. Goldeneye (145/2).................................................$2,024,040 2. Toy Story (136/1)....................................................$1,736,920 3. Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls (149/3) ....$1,023,400 4. Casino (112/2)...........................................................$747,600 5. Money Train (123/2)................................................$746,910 6. The American President (90/2)..........................$630,730 7. Nick of Time (100/2)................................................$293,350 8. It Takes Two (76/2)..................................................$245,970 9. Get Shorty (55/6)......................................................$181,890 10. Seven (43/10).............................................................$105,050 COPYRIGHT 1995 ENTERTAINMENT DATA INC.

Opportunity knocks in peacetime

A Canadian-built airplane will be the first to fly the previously not-so-friendly skies between longtime enemies Israel and Jordan, now that the two nations are doing more than just talking about peace. In October, they signed an agreement to allow passenger

flights on the potentially lucrative 110-km route between Tel Aviv and Amman. The Canadian connection was established when a 50-seat de Havilland Dash 8 Series 300 commuter airplane, manufactured in Toronto, made its appearance recently at the Dubai International Air Show. There, Walid Kurdi, chairman of Royal Jordanian Airline, decided the plane was just right for the new short-haul route. A Royal Jordanian subsidiary, Royal Wings, starts flying the Amman-

Tel Aviv run on Jan. 1, using just one leased Dash 8 at first. But conventional wisdom has it that the Middle Eastern market for aircraft can only grow. “The peace initiative has opened enormous business and tourism opportunities in this part of the world,” says Kurdi. And Montreal-based Bombardier Inc., manufacturer of aircraft under the de Havilland, Canadair and Lear names, can only hope that the Middle East gives peace a good, long chance.

What moving vans say about the economy

Along with the consumer price index, housing starts and the stock market, economists might want to consider the availability of rental trucks and trailers as a key economic indicator. In yet another sad sign of the times in Newfoundland, rental vans are becoming increasingly difficult to find. With the province’s best and brightest leaving in record numbers in search of jobs elsewhere in Canada, Newfoundland rental agencies are having difficulty keeping vehicles on their lots. More trucks are leaving the province than returning, says Andy Thorne, manager of a truck rental agency in Corner Brook. “Sometimes we don’t have any vehicles

to rent,” he adds. “The demand is there, but we just can’t fulfil it.” At the other end of the country, rental agencies are having just the opposite problem. Newcomers are arriving in Alberta and British Columbia in rental trucks and trailers, which they drop off at local agencies. But few people are moving out of those provinces, notes Sharon Boehler, manager for a truck rental firm in Vancouver, so with inventories constantly building up, “we have trucks just sitting on the lot.” A Hertz index for hurting times?

BARBARA WICKENS