CBC/Radio-Canada says it will remove the names of journalists Rosemary Barton and John Paul Tasker from a lawsuit filed against the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) alleging copyright infringement.
The move follows public backlash after The Globe and Mail broke the story Friday that the public broadcaster had filed suit against the CPC a day earlier for use of CBC News clips on Twitter and its website NotAsAdvertised.ca.
CBC has issued this statement about its legal filing. pic.twitter.com/SGE3xZlVBD
— Rosemary Barton (@RosieBarton) October 12, 2019
The hashtags #DefundCBC and #RosieMustGo were both trending on Twitter Saturday as word of the suit made its rounds on social media. The ad in question contains clips from all of the major Canadian broadcast networks including Global News, CTV News, and CityNews, in addition to CBC. In keeping with the CPC’s “Justin Trudeau: Not As Advertised” campaign, it draws from a range of unfavourable news and opinion coverage spanning the last four years from the SNC Lavalin affair to the Prime Minister’s highly-criticized 2018 trip to India.
It would be a shame if this ad the CBC had removed got a bunch of views. pic.twitter.com/tUOMSFqpKV
— HoCStaffer (@HoCStaffer) October 12, 2019
A statement issued Saturday by Jennifer McGuire, general manager and editor-in-chief of CBC News, and Luce Julien, Directice générale, Nouvelles et affaires publiques, Radio-Canada, said Barton and Tasker’s names were initially added to the legal application “because their images and journalism were misused for partisan purposes negatively impacting perceptions of their independence.”
The statement goes on to clarify that CBC/Radio-Canada and not the journalists was the driver behind the suit.
“In order to avoid any confusion about the role of Rosemary Barton and John Paul Tasker, we intend to file an amendment to remove their names as applicants when the court opens on Tuesday,” the statement reads. “This action is about protecting the interests of journalists and the independence of journalistic content. CBC/Radio-Canada would do the same for any of our journalists whose journalistic content was misused by any political party.”
The lawsuit has reignited suggestions from CBC’s detractors of both political bias on the part of the public broadcaster and a last-ditch attempt to preserve its $946 million in annual funding under a Liberal government.
— T Lee Humphrey (@tleehumphrey) October 12, 2019
FRIENDS of Canadian Broadcasting, which promotes expansion of public broadcasting, raised fears of political reprisal should a Conservative government be elected on Oct. 21.
“Will Andrew Scheer retaliate against the CBC if he becomes Prime Minister? Under the Broadcasting Act, Scheer could soon have the power to cut funding, replace the board with yes-men, and even fire CBC President Catherine Tait on trumped up charges. Will he promise not to misuse this power if elected? It’s a legitimate question and one that concerns FRIENDS a great deal,” said FRIENDS’ Executive Director Daniel Bernhard, in a statement.
The latest polling data from Nanos has the Liberals and Conservatives neck-and-neck in the election race with 33% and 32% support, respectively. The NDP are in third place at 18%, followed by the Green Party with 9% of voter support.
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