The CBC reported that the CRTC bill that would have allowed false and misleading news has been quashed. Thankfully, news agencies are held to a higher standard than individuals, at the expense of free speech.
Programs that present sensationalized versions of events shouldn’t be called news. The Daily Show and The Colbert Report are such examples. They don’t claim to be news, which distinguishes them from Fox News and similar programming.
The difference can be illustrated with an old quotation (as I remember it). Jon Stewart was talking with a couple of CNN newscasters, whom he criticized. They fired back about some of the material he presents. His retort: “You guys are on CNN. I’m on Comedy Central. The show that leads into mine is puppets making crank phone calls [Crank Yankers].”
I have a suspicion that the CRTC’s timing on certain issues is following at least one political agenda…
One issue, the one that has received significant media attention, is about usage-based billing*. Bell essentially wanted to take cell phone pricing and penalties and apply it to their DSL services. What a nasty, underhanded way of treating your customers. A new company comes along and offers a good deal that threatens your customer base, and rather than offering competitive prices or services, Bell decides that it’ll make up for lost revenue by increasing their prices. Oh, and they want to penalize the start-up company.
The CRTC’s role in this was to propose to allow this new pricing scheme in law.
Thankfully, our docile little nation voiced enough outrage over this issue to get the government to notice us. They told the CRTC, in no uncertain terms, to go to hell**.
Great, and the day is saved! Oh, but there was another CRTC issue…
Yeah, the one about legalizing deliberately misleading news.
The law currently states that it’s illegal to broadcast/publish “any false or misleading news.”
The proposed change (slated to take effect September 2011) is that it would be illegal to broadcast/publish “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.”
So if someone wanted to contest a certain news piece in court, the onus would be on the prosecution to prove that the “news” endangers or is likely to endanger lives, health, or safety. If that was not proven, there would be no case. This would make it excruciatingly difficult to contest any news article, even if it was obviously false or misleading.
Such is the hope of Sun TV, which is launching its news network, nicknamed “Fox News North”, after the demonstratedly biased and misleading news network.
Unfortunately, the uproar over usage-based billing was so great, that everyone forgot about the “fair and balanced” news law. From what I can tell, the UBB announcement came in October 2010, and the news law in January 2011, when most of the objection to UBB flared up.
Who wins here? The right-wing media, when they take advantage of the ruling that seems tailored to their purposes. Consequently, the political conservatives, whose ideologies would be promoted in the media. Also note that the government tried a little to look like the “heroes” for saving the public from UBB, so that’s another reason to suspect the timing – there will likely be an election within a year, and possibly soon.
I’m scared for this country.
* Two parts: a) if an Internet user exceeds their ‘cap’ – say, 25GB/month – they pay huge penalties; b) Internet companies that use Bell’s DSL lines (such as those which offer unlimited service) must also pay for extra usage
** Tony Clement said, “Reverse this decision or we’ll flex government muscle to do it anyway”
EDIT: Since the original writing, I read of the scientific definition of “theory” (which I didn’t know to be distinct) and all this has been cleared up. But I leave the post unchanged. I’m not doing Winston Smith’s work.
Watching an interview between Richard Dawkins and Bill O’Reilly, I was intrigued by O’Reilly’s argument (paraphrased) that because evolution is a theory and so is creationism in whole or in part, that science classes should present each.
In those words, fair enough. If they’re still both theories, widely regarded ones at that, what’s to say they shouldn’t present multiple theories. It’s clear to me that one argument, with proven evidence toward it, is the better option. Consider it a victory for science in countries like ours that science has defended its evolution argument well enough that it’s presented as “the way”. In no way do I believe in creationism, so I wonder when theories graduate to ‘accepted fact’. What happened with gravity?
I wonder if it’s a good enough argument that in the past, human theories were strongly disproved (see Galileo), so without conclusive evidence, something will stay a theory. Could you argue that almost anything from the past must be a theory, because we don’t know for certain what happened? Even in human history, errors and intentional misrepresentations must have occurred taken place.
Do we as people need to accept theories as reality, just in order to have a basic grip on reality?