Tuesday, February 08, 2011

CRTC Truth In Broadcasting Reg Changes: Enviro News Will Suffer

1. The current test is one of truth: Is the news false or misleading? This test will be replaced by a far more subjective test: Does the broadcaster know that the news is false or misleading? In essence, the amendment means that it is no longer a problem to broadcast false or misleading news in Canada; it is only a problem to broadcast false or misleading news if you can prove that the licensee knows it to be false or misleading.

2. Government, the general public, or competitors are highly unlikely to be able to prove what a licensee knew or did not know at the time of broadcast. As a result, there is no deterrent against the broadcast of false or misleading news.

3. Since the test is no longer “what is true?” but is instead, “what does the licensee know?”, licensees are encouraged not to investigate controversial or complicated stories very deeply. This is especially problematic for coverage of environmental issues, which often require in-depth understanding of scientific and legal issues.

4. It is virtually impossible to prove that any news – false, misleading, or otherwise – will endanger or be likely to endanger lives, health or safety. To meet the new test, you must now prove that the news endangers or is likely to endanger lives, health or safety. It is virtually impossible to prove this element of the test, especially with regard to news stories about science, law, and the environment. Establishing causal relationships in environmental matters is complex, sometimes impossible to do with great certainty. It takes specialized scientific study, and may require decades of monitoring and observation before effects are known.

5. The new rules assume that there is always a direct cause-and-effect relationship between the false or misleading news and the consequence. As every environmentalist or scientist knows, the consequences of cumulative effects are as important as the consequences of individual effects – and they are not always predictable.

Also, I note that Conservative Pundit Stephen Taylor supports the changes:

But free speech advocate Stephen Taylor, a director with the National Citizen¹s Coalition, said it's wrong to look to regulatory bodies to decide what's "true" and called Angus' warning another call to over- regulate.

"The last thing we need is a bureau of truth to determine what is state-sanctioned fact," Taylor said. "We should be wary of those that would seek to require an official government seal of approval on news reporting; societies which embrace such practices are seldom free."

Well, of course Angus warning is merely a call to maintain current regulations, but we'll let that slide. Given that the CRTC's proposed changes are a direct response to the Zundel case, and that these changes signal that the agency will no longer even attempt to sanction the kind of hate-mongering that Mr. Zundel's forays into holocaust denial represent, would Stephen be willing to argue that the "facts" of the holocaust are merely creations of the state?


Robert McClelland said...

Since when is Stephen Taylor a free speech advocate.

Shiner said...

Has anyone ever figured out what the wingnut definition of "fact" is? Because Taylor's usage here has me very confused.

Kev said...

There is a world of difference between Zundel and regulated broadcasters. Zundel was a private citizen( well not actually a citizen) where as a regulated broadcaster is licensed by the state to disseminate information, as such it is reasonable to expect that as a condition of that license that you would be subject to a certain level of standards higher than that applied to a private citizen that does not carry the De facto seal of approval from said state

rabbit said...

All news broadcasters put out false and misleading information. That's a hazard of the trace. You don't always get it right, no matter how hard you try. Were the current rule enforced, every news broadcaster would have been found guilty multiple times.

A rule that everyone is guilty of is one that can be abused. Bureaucrats need only enforce it selectively, applying it to those broadcasters they dislike.

Thus a change in the rule, where intent is required, makes a lot of sense.

Anonymous said...

How broadcasters fall in misleading?

Maria[man suit]