Media’s Right-Wing Bias

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The question shouldn’t be ‘does Canadian media show a right-wing bias‘?

It should be ‘how do we address Canada’s right-wing bias’?

The Walrus article addresses some recent ‘unintentional’ exposure for extreme right-wing groups, but I don’t think it explores the issue of ownership, news ‘feeds’ and the use of technology in an adequate manner.

Let’s look at ownership.  Under this broad category, I’ll suggest that the ‘owners’ of the direction of the CBC are the Board of Directors.  Early on in Stephen Harper’s role as Prime Minister, he set out to control the CBC, not eliminate it.  Make it dependent, not independent, both on public funding so that voice would be permanently moderated by political interference, but also on the source of information.

The Board of Directors almost entirely consists of Harper appointees, most of whom continue to steer Canada’s public information service into potential icebergs.

Under Harper’s guidance, the CBC cut journalist staff while beefing up admin.  It reduced it’s own internal flow of information and expanded its reliance on third-party news and information sources like Canada Newswire, a privately-held organization that supplies opinion and advertorials more than it does actual news.

Anything the broadcaster does as independent research and reporting seems geared towards putting it in the middle of lawsuit territory.  Recent examples include the investigation concerning the proportion of meat in fast-food sandwiches and the relentless badgering of banks.  It’s inevitable that the broadcaster will find itself in legal hot water and the public may be forced to turn its back on it, letting it wither and die.

Finally, more resources were diverted towards what can only be described as terrible entertainment programming. For a time, the network was producing award-winning comedy, political and drama shows, all of which revolved a central theme: genuine Canadian content that we could be proud of.

Today? Less so.

We’re left with a pale shell of what used to be a quality, public-owned and operated news institution.

All of this leads to another important question that should be asked about media in Canada: how can media be more moderate?

I suggest that we can pivot the direction of the CBC and push it into territory where it should have gone long ago.  The CBC should be truly owned by and controlled by the public.  I’ve argued before that I’d prefer to see the CBC operate more like TV Ontario (TVO), with some of its funding coming from the public budget, but a proportion also coming from viewers (note: I understand part of the funding comes from corporate sponsors, something that should be avoided for both institutions).

This ‘subscription’ model would do two things:  position the CBC for a world of cable-free access and streaming and also generate financial independence and political interference from its reporting and research.

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