The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. (CBC) has refused to air an ad produced by watchdog group Friends of Canadian Broadcasting which challenges the government’s takeover of the national public broadcaster. CBC media relations manager France Belisle told Cartt.ca the ads were refused because they are against its advocacy advertising policy: “This advocacy advertisement about CBC/Radio-Canada and its broadcast by CBC/Radio-Canada could imply an endorsement on our part of the FCOB campaign. This is why it was refused.”
The CBC was given permission by the CRTC to introduce advertising on some of its radio networks in May, breaking a four-decade tradition of commercial-free service.
The ad is a slam on the Bill C-60 provision that gives the Canadian government sweeping powers over how much corporations such as the CBC pay its union and non-union staff and other terms and conditions of employment. Bill C-60 has been passed into law.
A 60-second version of the ad, released by Friends at a news conference, features an actor as a CBC reporter questioning Prime Minister Stephen Harper (or an actor playing the PM) why he hasn’t delivered on his promises of accountability and transparency. After listing about a dozen transgressions that start with the robocalls, G20 abuses, and end with turning the CBC into a state broadcaster, two of the PM’s “aides” appear at the reporter’s side.
The next scene shows the mafia types locking the reporter in the trunk of a car. Cut to a close-up of the reporter, tied up, who says, “There goes my Senate appointment.” An announcer voiceover then asks viewers to join the Free the CBC campaign.
The CBC had outlined its position and concerns with Bill C-60 in a letter to the Standing Committee on Finance last May, stating that “Bill C-60 would strip CBC/Radio-Canada’s Board of Directors of its two fundamental responsibilities: to ensure responsible supervision of the Corporation’s activities and its independence from the Government of the day.”
Friends spokesperson Ian Morrison said the group hopes to run the ads on CTV and Quebecor’s TVA network.
Morrison also announced the results of a Nanos survey commissioned by Friends of Canadian Broadcasting that found 81% of respondents think the CBC should remain independent of the government as set out in the Broadcasting Act. Almost 80% believe that the CBC plays an important role in protecting Canadian culture and identity, while 87% think the Prime Minister should not appoint members of the CBC Board.