The CRTC’s decision to abandon planned revisions to a regulation that critics argue would lead to “Fox-style news” in Canada is making waves in the US.
In a March 1 column on The Huffington Post, Robert F Kennedy Jr applauds the broadcast regulator’s decision. He calls it a rejection of “efforts by Canada’s rightwing prime minister, Stephen Harper, to repeal a law that forbids lying on broadcast news."
Canada’s Radio Act requires that “a licenser may not broadcast…. any false or misleading news.” The provision has kept Fox News and rightwing talk radio out of Canada and helped make Canada a model for liberal democracy and freedom. As a result of that law, Canadians enjoy high-quality news coverage, including the kind of foreign affairs and investigative journalism that flourished in this country before Ronald Reagan abolished the “Fairness Doctrine” in 1987.
Kennedy claims the planned changes were meant to facilitate the launch of Sun TV News, Quebecor Media’s all-news channel. With its populist, conservative-leaning approach to reporting, many were calling the channel “Fox News North.”
It’s clear from his piece that Kennedy, an environmental activist and the nephew of one of the most popular presidents in US history, is no fan of our current prime minister:
Harper, often referred to as “George W Bush’s Mini Me,” is known for having mounted a Bush-like war on government scientists, data collectors, transparency and enlightenment in general. He is a wizard of all the familiar tools of demagoguery: false patriotism, bigotry, fear, selfishness and belligerent religiosity.
While that may be true, it hasn’t hurt Harper in the polls.
Kennedy argues that rightwing ideology can become popular only through dishonest propaganda:
Since corporate profit-taking is not an attractive vessel for populism, a political party or broadcast network that makes itself the tool of corporate and financial elites must lie to make its agenda popular with the public. In the Unites States, Fox News and talk radio, the sock puppets of billionaires and corporate robber barons have become the masters of propaganda and distortion on the public airwaves. Fox News’s notoriously biased and dishonest coverage of the Wisconsin protests is a prime example of the brand of news coverage Canada has smartly avoided.
Below is a trailer for Sun TV News: