Monday, 7 February 2011

If you do one activisty thing in the next two weeks. (with update)

Squeal about this.

The CRTC seems to be about to change its regulations to enable Fox News North.
A recent, little-noticed news item may result in a deep and indelible blemish on the Canadian mosaic.

Earlier this month, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), without fanfare, posted on its website a potential game-changer in the world of broadcast journalism. The CRTC is seeking to relax restrictions concerning the broadcasting of specious information on radio and television.

Currently, the law stipulates that broadcasters “shall not broadcast any false or misleading news.”

Sounds reasonable enough — and straightforward — as it should, since it concerns the integrity of news reporting.

But not apparently to the CRTC. It is proposing to soften the regulation, banning “any news that the licensee knows is false or misleading and that endangers or is likely to endanger the lives, health or safety of the public.”

In short, with the new wording, broadcasters could air false or misleading news with impunity, provided that it does not endanger the lives, health or safety of the public.

Unfortunately, the CRTC does not specify who will judge whether or not such disinformation poses a danger.

Like the public discourse is not already degraded enough.

WTF is the CRTC thinking/smoking?

Squeal here. And do it soon. The deadline is February 9.

Um, Margaret, can we get a little promotion here?

Update from deBeauxOs - NDP MP Charlie Angus is also concerned - grand merci to AZ. Reminder - deadline is Feb. 9 - this Wednesday.


double nickel said...

Done, despite the fact that the CRTC couldn't design a more confusing web site.

deBeauxOs said...

Betcha we can get a blogblast (dammit, can't remember spec. term ... blogout? blogflashmob?) going, with other progressive bloggers also posting about this.

I will post to that possibility tomorrow am.

JJ said...

Deep breaths, deep breaths.

My understanding is that the current regs are so broad & vague as to be unenforceable because they wouldn't stand up in court. In order to get around this problem, the CRTC is trying to impose a stricter definition of what constitutes "misleading news". But since this means starting with a broad definition and paring it down, people are losing their shit over it because they think it gives certain up-and-coming stations the green light to propagandize. However, I think in their bumbling, bureaucratic way, the CRTC is trying to make it more difficult, not less, for broadcasters to spread misleading information.

Frankly, I could care less what Sun TV or anyone else broadcasts. But if I was into regulations I'd probably want them to be strong enough that they wouldn't fold like a cheap suit under a court challenge.

Anonymous said...

pale here.....LOL. This comment thingy hates me. :)

I posted about this last week and got a couple comments that I am reading too much into this.
I don't agree of course, and my tin foil hat fits just fine. Thanks. :)

Ger said...

What?... is in not enough that Canadian's are subject to the lie's of the Conservatives in the Mainstream Media, as is. Now they want to add FOX ~come on!
No Integrity at CRTC?


Orwell's Bastard said...

Fuck, yeah.

Jesus fucking Christ. Where the fuck is this coming from? They can't possibly be this fucking stupid all by themselves ... can they?

Well, can they?

Like OMG, we can't actually do anything meaningful to safeguard the quality of public discourse, because someone might sue! How about you actually WAIT for someone to sue you before turtling?

JJ said...

Pale - It depends what you're reading into it, I guess.

A parliamentary subcommittee brought this issue up years ago -- that the regulations needed to be tightened because they were too vague to stand up to a court challenge. This thing has been slowly making its way through the bureaucracy ever since. Possibly the process was greased because we're about to get a new openly-biased news channel (but I seriously doubt it).

All I'm saying is that if the CRTC's goal is to keep broadcasters honest, the "misleading news" regs as they now stand aren't up to the task. Some might find the new regs have too narrow a definition of what's misleading, but at least they'd stand up to a court challenge. So for anyone who thinks gov't should protect us from bad info, having regs that actually work is a step in the right direction, no?

At least, that's how it looks to me...

Anonymous said...

Pale again....

I am going to have to go with Michael Geist on this one. He is kind of in the know on things legal, not just speculating.
He didn't connect the two things (Faux and this proposed change), but this is what he said.....
"In other words, it would perfectly permissible for a broadcaster to air false or misleading news, provided that it not endanger the lives, health or safety of the public."

And I disagree with your assessment.

This kind of crap has been going on for years, and although you have not been one of the ones in denial about it, I truly think that there is more here.

fern hill said...

I'm no kinda expert, but Michael Geist is. I'd go with his assessment too.

Anonymous said...

How about this?

To whom it may concern at the CRTC,

I am not interested in the CRTC lowering (amending) the standards regarding the prohibition on broadcasting false or misleading news. In this era where many "news" stations aren't being honest with the public and are more and more actively partisan, I feel this decision is misguided. I do not want Canada (through the CRTC) to relax their rules in order to allow for such television stations as Fox News or any other like it (namely the soon to open Sun News Media) to be allowed to spout slanted, irresponsible and false information. Their sole purpose is to propagandize and I would prefer the CRTC did not allow them to bring our national discourse lower than it already is. You may have read this study before, but just recently, it was provent that people who listened to the Fox News channel in the USA are far less informed than the ones who watch other channels. Misinformation should not be allowed to go unchallenged. It should not even be promoted with a license to broadcast. Please take the Tuscon example to heart. All these misinformation television (and radio) stations are responsible for that tragedy with their constant barrage of extreme rethoric and violence that many of its listeners now subscribe to. Also of note, lowering the present standard would allow for a station to quote other stations that are misleading and then try to get out of their obligation to provide news. NEWS is not fiction.

fern hill said...

Sounds good, Anonymous.

fern hill said...

My bro-in-law knows something about media law. I'm waiting to hear what he thinks.

JJ said...

I agree with Geist's article. I'm talking about something Geist doesn't address, which is that there may be a valid reason why the CRTC is considering these changes but they've fumbled their response. However, this obviously isn't a possibility anyone wants to explore, which is understandable since it's pretty boring.

I'm not a fan of the CRTC, and this subject only interests me because I had to deal with the assholes on an almost daily basis for so many years. After that experience, anything that highlights their dumbness and inefficiency is an occasion of pleasure for me. :D

deBeauxOs said...

Given the HarperCons' 5 year track record and documented history of meddling with the functions of varied crown corporations, ministries (long form census?) and independent organizations who are required to answer only to Parliament, it's not a stretch to suggest that their fingerprints all over these changes.

Luna said...

What I wrote:

In proposing to soften the regulation, banning “any news that the licensee knows is false or misleading and that endangers or is likely to endanger the lives, health or safety of the public”, you make the standard for broadcasters to be "plausible deniability". That is, a broadcaster need only plausibly deny that they knew the information to be false when they broadcast it. That is NOT where we want to go in Canada. A broadcaster ought to KNOW that information is true before they broadcast it. That is the only way that there can be any trust at all in the media.

Furthermore, if the information they provide is false, but isn't likely to endanger lives, health or safety of the public, they will be within the law. That is completely unacceptable. What this does is allow broadcasters to lie to suit the political stance of their owners, as long as they do it without endangering lives. So if, for example, a network want desperately to make Politician A look bad, they can lie about him in any way they like. They could say "Politician A eats babies for breakfast!" and the CRTC would have no recourse. Of course, that would be slander, and the politician could sue, but the damage would already be done. One cannot unhear a lie.

That's the crux of it. We hear things from the media and we trust them to be true. A quiet change to the law will allow partisan politics to own the news media. We MUST prevent this.

Beijing York said...

Given who Harper appointed to the CRTC, I wouldn't consider this new move an independent decision but something that the PMO has manipulated.

The prime minister's office is undermining the CRTC by appointing an "unqualified" vice-chair of broadcasting and easing regulations on broadcast standards, NDP heritage critic Charlie Angus says.

Tom Pentefountas, who was appointed on Friday, "failed on every count" of the vetting process, Angus said during question period in the House of Commons on Monday. "This appointment stinks."

Angus and NDP House leader Libby Davies charged that Pentefountas, a former president of Quebec's conservative ADQ party, does not meet several of the job's requirements, including an in-depth knowledge of the broadcasting industry and media convergence.

Sixth Estate said...

I can't help but notice that this proposal to allow the media to falsify the news is tied to another change regarding obscenity.

Now, where have we heard of a group that would chime in to support an anti-obscenity amendment even if the collateral damage was a responsible media?

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