A Quebec FM radio station that had its broadcast license pulled by Canada's broadcast watchdog for its Howard Stern-style morning show on May 26 began a legal appeal to stay on air.


(The Hollywood Reporter) -- A Quebec FM radio station that had its broadcast license pulled by Canada's broadcast watchdog for its Howard Stern-style morning show on May 26 began a legal appeal to stay on air.

"Never before in the history of the world, except in totalitarian states, has a radio station been closed, based on its use of words or verbal content. This is pure and simple censorship," Guy Bertrand, a lawyer representing Genex Communications, the operator of Quebec City station CHOI-FM, told the Federal Court of Appeals in his opening brief.

Genex' challenge of a July 2004 decision by the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission not to renew the CHOI-FM license has implications for Canadian broadcast standards, which traditionally have been more stringent than U.S. limits on free speech.

Bertrand conceded that CHOI-FM's controversial morning radio host Jean-Francois Fillon, had made "blunders," but he insisted the CRTC had no jurisdiction to referee radio content, a role traditionally done by the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council.

"Will Canada be the first democracy to close a station because it made misplaced comments?" Bertrand asked the court's three-judge panel.

Fillon left CHOI-FM in April, and the radio station has been allowed to remain on air until its legal appeal against the CRTC revoking its license is heard. The CRTC has previously forced five radio stations off the air for various violations.