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CBC's independence at risk if Bill C-60 passes as is

May 23, 2013

For Immediate Release

Joe Schlesinger, Hugh Winsor, Don Newman, Bernard Derome and other eminent authorities in journalism believe CBC’s independence is at risk

Ottawa - Many of Canada’s leading authorities and practitioners of journalism are calling for changes to Bill C-60 so that the government’s Omnibus Budget legislation does not do irreparable harm to the editorial independence of the CBC.

A letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper signed by fourteen eminent Canadians from the worlds of journalism and academia expresses deep concern that “Bill C-60 would undermine the arms-length relationship between the CBC, our national public broadcaster, and the federal government.”

The letter was tabled this morning at the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance by Ian Morrison, spokesperson for the watchdog group Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, during his appearance before the Committee.

“Without change, Bill C-60 will give government the power to remove the conditions which underpin the integrity of CBC’s journalists, editors, producers, writers and broadcasters and empower them to provide independent coverage of the government. The government would do this by directly manipulating their working conditions, collective agreements, pay and benefits – a degree of interference with a public broadcaster that is unheard of in the free world today,” Morrison said.

Morrison also tabled a legal opinion Friends commissioned from leading media lawyer Brian MacLeod Rogers which observes that Bill C-60 could negate all of the protections put in place in the Broadcasting Act by the Mulroney government to safeguard the CBC’s independence.

“Eight-one years ago, a Conservative Prime Minister introduced public broadcasting in Canada. Fifty-nine years later a Progressive Conservative Prime Minister updated Broadcasting Act for the 21st Century, Morrison told the Finance Committee.

The Rogers opinion concludes that the provision of Bill C-60 related to the CBC will provoke legal action.

“We recommend that the government steer clear of this morass by removing the CBC from Bill C-60, or failing that, making the clauses referencing CBC explicitly subject to the protection from interference afforded by sections 35(2) and 52 of the Broadcasting Act,” Morrison said.

Friends of Canadian Broadcasting is an independent watchdog for Canadian programming and is not affiliated with any broadcaster or political party.

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The letter to the Prime Minster and the Rogers legal opinion are available at www.friends.ca

For information: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592


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Related Documents:

May 23, 2013 — Letter: Letter to Prime Minister Harper regarding Bill C-60
A letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper signed by sixteen eminent Canadians from the worlds of journalism and academia expresses deep concern that “Bill C-60 would undermine the arms-length relationship between the CBC, our national public broadcaster, and the federal government.”

May 22, 2013 — Letter: RE: Canada Bill C-60 and Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Legal opinion on proposed amendments set out in Bill C-60 that affect the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

May 23, 2013 — Policy Brief: Presentation to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance regarding Bill C-60
FRIENDS spokesperson tells parliamentarians that the CBC must retain its arms-length relationship to the government.