I don’t normally get political on my blog, but this seemed incredibly important. The CRTC has proposed amendment 2011-14 which suggests:
The amendments address concerns raised by Parliament’s Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations related to the following provisions:
- the prohibition on broadcasting false or misleading news;
- the prohibition on broadcasting programming that contains obscene or profane language; and
- the submission of information by licensees to the Commission.
Here’s my complete submission regarding the amendment:
There is no conceivable benefit for allowing any media organization to purposefully disseminate false or misleading information! This is especially true considering that:
- Media organizations (especially such as Fox, CNN and likely Sun TV) advertise themselves as being trustworthy and honest
- Media organizations are largely controlled by the very rich â€“ both the individuals that own them and the corporations that advertise on them
While the Supreme Court ruled in favour of Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel, it should be recognised that Ernst Zundel is an individual, and not a powerful media corporation. The Supreme Court ruled that an individual has the right of freedom of expression, even if the individual chooses to disseminate false information. However, the Supreme Court did not suggest that large corporations â€“ especially the media â€“ should be given such leeway. There are many cases where special laws exist around publishing of information.
For example, on January 28, 2011 in the Supreme Court Case # 32920 â€“ CBC v. Canada (http://csc.lexum.umontreal.ca/en/2011/2011scc2/2011scc2.html) the Supreme court wrote that, “the right to freedom of expression is infringed” BUT that “the limits imposed on freedom of expression by the rules of practice and by Directive A10 are reasonable and are justified in a free and democratic society.”
Furthermore, the Supreme court specifically said that the presence of journalists “enhances the values underlying s.Â 2(b) [of the Charter of Rights], namely democratic discourse, selffulfilment and truth finding.”
Thus, it seems clear that the Supreme Court is interested in upholding freedom of expression, but they will restrict freedom of the expression and freedom of press in certain cases; furthermore the Supreme court seems very interested in protecting the truth!
I would argue that corporations – being incredibly more powerful and much more able to disseminate information than individuals – need to be held to a much higher standard of communication. The public media and news corporations must be trustworthy source of information, as the information they disseminate has a powerful impact on the voting public’s perceptions and viewpoints, which can have massive effects on political decisions and elections.
Nor is it the responsibility of the CRTC to concern itself with judicial matters surrounding the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Any media source that wishes to broadcasting false or misleading news should file an appropriate court case and work through the public judicial system.
The public, government, the judiciary and the media together form the four pillars of our modern society; the media needs to be trustworthy, and allowing them to broadcast false or misleading information serves no Canadian citizen in the slightest.