A Law Against Lying on the News

By Dave Saldana
Via Yes Magazine

It’s not often that goings-on in Canada interest the American news media, but a rather small decision by a relatively small government agency—the decision not to revoke a rule that bans lying on broadcast news—in Ottawa has made a pretty big splash.

It stems from the planned April launch of Sun TV, a Canadian analog to FOX News—i.e., a broadcast news outlet with a decidedly conservative perspective. Among its top executives is a former communications director to conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, evoking former Reagan/Bush adviser Roger Ailes’ role at the helm of FOX. That executive, Kory Teneycke, told the Toronto Star that Sun TV is “taking on the mainstream media […] smug, condescending, often irrelevant journalism, we’re taking on political correctness […] by bureaucrats for elites and paid for by taxpayers.”

Given that the posture, tone, language, and buzzwords of the nascent network could have come so easily from Bill O’Reilly, outsiders promptly branded it “FOX News North.”

The launch drew attention to a seldom-scrutinized regulatory agency called the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), similar to the Federal Communications Commission in the United States.

With little fanfare, the CRTC last month scrapped a proposal to revoke or relax a rule on “prohibited programming content” that includes “broadcasting false or misleading news.” The CRTC withdrew the plan when a legislative committee determined that the rule does not run afoul of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which like the U.S. Constitution, guarantees press freedoms. Read story

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