Taxpayer Supported Media
Last week in the WSJ, James Freeman brought to readers’ attention how prickly National Public Radio’s reaction was to Twitter’s effort to inform users about NPR and its business model.
Today brings more news of taxpayer-supported media folk who seem to resent being called taxpayer-supported media folk.
From the Associated Press (Toronto), Rob Gillies reports:
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation paused its use of Twitter on Monday after the social media platform owned by Elon Musk stamped CBC’s account with a label the public broadcaster says is intended to undermine its credibility.
Twitter labelled CBC/Radio-Canada “government-funded media” — the same label that prompted National Public Radio in the U.S. to similarly quit Twitter last Wednesday.
“Twitter can be a powerful tool for our journalists to communicate with Canadians, but it undermines the accuracy and professionalism of the work they do to allow our independence to be falsely described in this way,” CBC spokesman Leon Mar said in a statement announcing the change Monday afternoon.
Why, some will wonder, does the broadcaster have to accept this reputational consequence along with the money?
CBC, just like NPR, seems to have had some success in persuading Mr. Musk to tweak his company’s description. CBC has sent a letter to Twitter asking the company to re-examine the designation. Musk later tweeted about it and changed it to “69 percent Government-funded media,” continues Mr. Freeman.
Explains Mr. Gillies for AP:
But CBC is still not satisfied. The broadcaster is not disputing that it is in fact government-funded, but argues that a Twitter page defining this term is unfair to CBC because it suggests that government influence may come along with the funding. CBC says Canadian law protects it from government interference. Just like public broadcasters in the U.S., the Canadian broadcaster is arguing that it relies on politicians for money but remains completely independent of them.
Mr. Freeman has a suggestion: Rather than trying to argue that one can be entirely independent while regularly accepting large bundles of taxpayer dollars, perhaps public broadcasters should consider declaring their independence from government funding.
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