Why the CRTC should change false news rules

When the CRTC invited the public to weigh in on a proposed change to broadcast policy late last month, critics spoke out: many are worried that loosening the restrictions on broadcasting “false and misleading news” would encourage on-air journalists to, well, spread false and misleading news.

That idea is “laughably unbelieveable” says media analyst Terry Field, a j-prof at Mount Royal University. “Even suggesting it could happen constitutes the false and misleading news’ critics say they fear,” he writes at TroyMedia.com

The CRTC proposal seeks to soften the regulation to only ban “any news that the licensee knows is false or misleading and that endangers or is likely to endanger the lives, health or safety of the public.”

“The reality is that even if a broadcast journalist wanted to spread “false and misleading” news there are already a host of rules and conventions that prevent it. First, it is unethical, and broadcast news organizations adhere to a range of public broadcast standards and internal ethics policies that govern journalistic activity. On top of that, the CRTC regularly reviews radio and TV stations activities to ensure they are meeting their stated obligations and serving the public. Further, the country has defamation laws that protect people from having their public reputation besmirched without evidence.” Canada also has anti-hate laws, he points out.