Canada’s public radio quits Twitter after being labeled ‘government-funded media’

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Canadian public broadcaster CBC and its French-language version, Radio-Canada, have announced that they will stop using Twitter’s platform due to the “government-funded media” label, which the company says questions its editorial independence.

This label has been added to the station’s account, qualifying it in the same way as the main media outlets in authoritarian countries such as Russia or China.

The label has been criticized by the station, according to AFP, because although it is financed with public funds, its editorial independence is protected by Canadian broadcasting law. According to the CBC and Radio-Canada, the label is false and misleading.

The station has decided to pause its activity on Twitter and all CBC and Radio-Canada news-related accounts. Instead, he has urged Canadians to follow him on other social networks.

Conservative opposition leader Pierre Poilievre, who has publicly expressed his disdain for the CBC and has raised funds by promising to end its funding, wrote to Elon Musk last week urging him to add a label “media funded by the CBC.” government” to the CBC’s Twitter accounts.

For his part, Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau criticized his rival for “attacking this Canadian institution and attacking the culture and local content (it produces) that is so important to so many Canadians.”

The position of CBC and Radio-Canada

The CBC and Radio-Canada are public broadcasters in Canada that provide national news, sports and entertainment. Although they are publicly funded, their editorial independence is protected by Canadian Broadcasting Law.

According to the broadcasters, the label “government-funded media” is false and misleading, as it suggests that they are not editorially independent. The station has stated that Twitter can be a powerful tool for its journalists to communicate with Canadians, but it undermines the accuracy and professionalism of the work they do to allow their independence to be falsely portrayed in this way.

The debate over the “government-funded media” label on Twitter

The “government-funded media” hashtag has been the subject of controversy since it was introduced on Twitter in 2019. The hashtag was originally added to Russian and Chinese media accounts, raising concerns about state propaganda and the interference in elections.

However, many public and private media outlets argue that the label is misleading and calls into question their editorial independence. The UK’s BBC, for example, argued that the “government-funded media” label is inappropriate because it is independent of government and funded by citizens through a television license fee.

Twitter agreed to change the label from “government funded media” to “publicly funded” for the BBC, after a public outcry. However, for many other organizations, the label remains a source of controversy.

CBC/Radio-Canada’s decision to abandon Twitter because of the “government-funded media” label is yet another sign of the ongoing debate over press freedom and editorial independence in the age of social media.

The importance of editorial independence in public media

The public media are an important part of democracy and press freedom around the world. They are often funded by the government and exist to provide an unbiased and objective source of news for the public.

Editorial independence, which Twitter claims to safeguard, is essential for public media, because it allows them to report on political and social issues impartially and without censorship. However, editorial independence can also be a source of controversy, especially when it comes to public media.

In Canada, CBC/Radio-Canada is an example of a public media organization that is funded from state budgets and has strong editorial independence. The Canadian Broadcasting Act guarantees that CBC/Radio-Canada has editorial autonomy, which means that it can report on any subject without government intervention.

However, the “government-funded media” label on Twitter has called into question the editorial independence of CBC/Radio-Canada and has led the organization to leave the platform.

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Brian Adam
Professional Blogger, V logger, traveler and explorer of new horizons.