Court-ordered CBC programming?

A judge in the Northwest Territories seems to think the courts have the ability to order CBC programming: a court ordered a CBC Radio broadcaster to air a program on family violence, as part of his sentence for spousal assault. Apart from any merit — and the sheer originality — of the sentence, it’s an astonishing overreach. Really, you’d think someone trained in the law would have an inkling about press rights and the long, hard-fought principle of non-interference.

An excerpt of the CBC North story:

The broadcaster was handed a conditional discharge on Nov. 20, after he pleaded guilty to assault after hitting his wife during an argument in early September. CBC News has chosen not to identify the broadcaster, as doing so would identify the victim of the assault.

Under the conditional discharge sentence, the man would have no record of the assault conviction if he obeys the conditions of his six-month probation.

One of those conditions requires the man to dedicate one of his radio broadcasts to the issue of domestic violence within the next four months. The CBC is now seeking legal advice on the broadcaster’s sentence.

“We’re looking at this with the idea that the courts really aren’t part of our programming, and they don’t actually tell us what to do,” John Agnew, CBC North’s regional director of radio and television, said Friday.