Self-styled community broadcaster Jan Pachul is still airing his Star Ray TV signal in Toronto, despite a 2001 order shutting it down and a more recent reminder from the CRTC.  "I guess what they’re trying to do is shut down whatever I’ve got on right now," Pachul says, referring to Star TV’s alphanumeric service, a mix of music from local artists and a computer text-based video signal. Despite a mandatory order from the CRTC to shut down Star Ray’s TV broadcasting activity on UHF channel 15 in October 2001, Pachul continued to air a signal (CCR Update, Oct. 26/01). In October 2002, a year after the order was issued, Pachul told Canadian Communications Reports he had discontinued broadcasting a synchronized audio and video feed, but held on to his alphanumeric service (CCR, Oct. 24/02). Acting on a tip-off from an individual named Mason Baxley, however, the CRTC asked Industry Canada to send a spectrum monitoring team to Pachul’s east Toronto neighborhood in January 2005 and again in April of the same year. According to a scan of a Dec. 9, 2005 letter from the CRTC hosted on the Star Ray website, the monitoring team found both audio and video signals – apparently from Pachul’s alphanumeric service – on TV channel 15. Further, those signals seemed to originate from Pachul’s address. According to the letter, Pachul admitted to an Industry Canada representative at the time of the January monitoring that he was broadcasting on the channel. "Further monitoring on April 1, 2005 confirmed that Star Ray TV continued airing a program on channel 15," the letter states. "The recorded (VHS tape) programming content on this date consisted of colourful graphics, text messages and music. It can thus be concluded that Star Ray TV was transmitting on channel 15 on Monday, Jan. 31, 2005 and on Friday, April 1, 2005." The letter also reminds Pachul that he could be in violation of the mandatory order, which was set out in Public Notice 2001-109. The CRTC has the power to levy its own fines for broadcasting without a licence – up to $20,000 a day for individuals and $200,000 a day for corporations. Additionally, if the commission sees fit to file a contempt of court notice with the Federal Court of Canada and wins, Pachul could face more fines as well as a year in prison. Pachul claims there was an understanding that he would be allowed to keep transmitting the alphanumeric service. "Didn’t they lay off me for three years," he asks, referring to the time between his October 2002 announcement and the December 2005 letter from the CRTC. "They gave me a little bit of breathing room when they let me run the message channel bit. But you know what’s happening now? I guess it’s too popular, the message channel." Regardless, the alphanumeric service shouldn’t require a licence from the CRTC since it doesn’t meet the definition of programming as outlined in the Broadcasting Act, Pachul claims. Broadcasting, the act says, consists of transmission of programs, and programs are "sounds or visual images, or a combination of sounds and visual images, that are intended to inform, enlighten or entertain, but does not include visual images, whether or not combined with sounds, that consist predominantly of alphanumeric text." The computer-generated titles and messages that accompany the music aired on Star Ray are alphanumeric text, Pachul says, and therefore the station falls outside the CRTC’s jurisdiction. Pachul also says the complaint that led to the Industry Canada monitoring team’s dispatch and report in 2005 falls afoul of the CRTC’s policy of not following up on anonymous complaints, and therefore the whole process is tainted. "It’s definitely fraudulent activity," he says. "Like, fictitious people, using Hotmail accounts? Let’s be real here." According to the complaint process fact sheet posted on the CRTC’s website, "Broadcasters, cable companies and other service providers have the right to know the allegations against them, the identity of the complainant and the right of reply." In June 2004, Pachul applied for a licence for Star Ray under a low-powered community TV format set up in 2002 partly in response to his efforts. However, the latest letter from the CRTC has given him cause for despair. Consequently, he has replied to the CRTC notice with a strongly worded letter of his own. "How long have I been trying to legalize this whole operation? They’ve got zero case. Their best bet would be to just back off, give me a hearing, give me a licence, and if I’m preoccupied with running a TV station I’m not going to bother them." In the meantime, Pachul says he’s increasingly looking to the Internet as a conduit for Star Ray. He has asked the station’s supporters to download peer-to-peer broadcasting software and host Star Ray’s transmissions. He has also launched a website, tobroadcast.com, that will rebroadcast over the Web the same signal Star Ray sends over the UHF airwaves. Although embracing the possibilities of the Web is in the cards for Pachul and Star Ray, he’s not turning his back on conventional over-the-air broadcasting either. With major broadcasters such as Canwest Global Communications Corp. recently voicing their desire to drop free over-the-air signals, citing them as an unprofitable business segment catering to a small minority of users, Pachul says Star Ray is a democratizing element in Canadian broadcasting. "If we abandon UHF, we abandon all these poor people that can’t afford ," he says. "Because right now, if you want to watch a signal you can pick up a TV out of the trash, fashion an antenna out of a coat-hanger, and you’re watching it.".