The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) says broadcasters must disclose their ownership interest following a complaint that CTV Toronto promoted Crave series Canada’s Drag Race during a newscast, without disclosing they are both owned by Bell Media.
The CBSC decision concerns the July 4, 2020 broadcast of CTV News at 6 with the anchors introducing the report with the statement, “If you missed the debut on Thursday, the first episode of Canada’s Drag Race is now available on Crave.” The report itself profiled a show contestant from Kitchener.
A viewer complained that the segment was effectively an advertisement for Crave and that broadcasters shouldn’t be allowed to use their newscasts for this type of self-promotion. CTV pointed out that its entertainment news features programs from all producers and distributors, not just those related to its parent company. It also stated that Bell Media management has no influence on the news stories it covers.
The CBSC’s English-Language Panel examined the complaint under the RTDNA Code of Journalistic Ethics and the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ Code of Ethics. The Panel found that CTV should have disclosed its relationship to Crave to avoid the appearance of conflict of interest as required by Article 4.0 (Integrity) of the RTDNA Code and that CTV should have ensured that the phrasing of the report’s introduction distinguished news content from advertising as required by Article 2.2 (Fairness) of the code.
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