CRTC may ease ban on broadcasting false news

Cut-off for public input is February 9

On January 10, the CRTC announced it was seeking comments on a proposal to alter the wording of a regulation that prohibits the broadcasting of false or misleading news. The alteration would make the regulation apply only in cases in which broadcasters knew the information was false or misleading, and that reporting it may endanger the lives, health or safety of the public. This proposal came by way of a little-watched committee of Parliament—the joint committee for the scrutiny of regulations—who have pressed for changes to the ban for over a decade. According to government officials, problems with the ban began with a 1992 ruling in the case of Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel, which said the right to freedom of expression meant a person could not be charged for disseminating false information. In 2000, the regulations committee pointed out to the CRTC that its regulation seemed to contradict the ruling. Following the CRTC’s January announcement, the proposal has been met with confusion and criticism. Peter Murdoch, vice-president for the Communication, Energy, and Paperworkers Union called the proposal “totally bizarre,” noting that no one in the industry has called for it. NDP MP Charlie Angus noted to reporters that the proposed change precedes the start of Sun TV. The deadline for public input is February 9.

Globe and Mail

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