Jan Pachul, the renegade broadcaster who has been running a pirate television station in Toronto since last summer, says he’ll continue operations in defiance of a CRTC order issued today to cease-and-desist. The October 26 ruling, Public Notice CRTC 2001-109, orders Pachul to cease broadcasting without a licence by November 15 or face a contempt of court charge in the Federal Court of Canada. A court spokesperson speaking to Canadian Communications Reports says if found guilty of contempt, offenders can face just under five years in prison and unspecified fines. Pachul told CCR he has to be found guilty first, and won’t shut down his Star Ray TV station unless bankruptcy forces him to back down. "(The CRTC) did what we expected them to do. They haven’t acted out of character, have they?" Pachul told CCR today. "Their rules are arbitrary, that’s the problem. They don’t seem to follow any set pattern of giving licences out other than a few corporations that have former CRTC employees managing regulatory affairs. That’s basically what’s going down." He maintains, as he has since last summer, that the commission has consistently acted in the interests of established broadcasters, and that this most recent ruling confirms his impressions. The threat of either imprisonment or hefty fines hasn’t changed his mind about continuing operations. Pachul is treating his lawbreaking as a "summary offence", and says he hopes the Federal Court will exercise latitude both in interpreting the cease-and-desist order, and finding him guilty of contempt. "For one, it’s a summary offence no matter what happens. They can’t get you past a summary offence. Secondly, there’s a lot of procedural problems that have occurred, especially in this hearing. For example, we asked for specific disclosure that we never got. We asked to subpoena witnesses, and we never got that. Their so-called evidence from Industry Canada – there’s nobody even saying that they did it. There’s no affidavit," says Pachul of the procedural grounds on which he intends to launch a Federal Court review of the order. His first appeal to the Federal Court against a hearing by the CRTC into the affair wasn’t dealt with by the time the hearing occurred. In its order, the commission notes that it had found evidence that Star Ray TV was broadcasting, including tapes and monitoring evidence submitted by Industry Canada. The cease-and-desist order was issued because Pachul is not operating with a broadcast licence. Asked whether he was broadcasting by commissioners at a September 18 hearing, Pachul refused to answer. "I think all they were trying to do was to get me to incriminate myself or perjure myself, so I did neither. Hell, I could do it one of two ways. Either I could admit to (broadcasting) and grovel in front of them, or deny that I’m on the air. They didn’t give me much option there did they? …Then they’re into this routine where people wrote in to the CRTC in our favour and describe our programming, and that’s evidence for the mandatory order? In other words, it would have been better if they’d never written in saying we were broadcasting on the air? Where’s the fairness of this? In our point of view, shut us down. We’re going to take it all the way." Besides awaiting a contempt of court trial at the Federal Court, Pachul says he will also file for a judicial review of the order. "The CRTC seems to have this idea that they can do everything in a vacuum, and there’s nobody going to police them in any way. Well, under judicial review, we can get the appeal court to appeal any CRTC decision… That’s basically what we plan on doing. I think what may also occur is we may go after individual commissioners, too. That’s another tactic that we may consider. There’s various options under the Crown Liability Act and also the Competition Act that we haven’t done yet. But, we’re not going to roll over and play dead, although we may go bankrupt first." Asked whether the company could financially withstand a long fight, Pachul conceded that the economy has made things difficult. "Very tight since the terrorist hit. There doesn’t seem to be any cash available. So, we might get shut down de facto, but we’re not going to give up on the CRTC. We’re going to keep slamming them." Chris Taylor, a communications lawyer familiar with the case, says that if Pachul proceeds without authorization, he’s likely to find himself in hot water, saying that the CRTC will have no choice but to begin contempt proceedings against him through the Federal Court – a battle Pachul will likely lose. If found in contempt, under new rules implemented in 1998, the Federal Court judge could order that he: be imprisoned for a period of less than five years or until he complies with the order; be imprisoned for a period of less than five years if he fails to comply with the order; pay a fine; or he could have his property sequestered and be ordered to pay costs. For previous stories on Star Ray TV, please see Canadian Communications Reports, August 15/01 and Canadian Communications Reports, August 23/01.