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Ethics czar looking into parliamentary secretary’s letter to CRTC


 

OTTAWA – A Conservative parliamentary secretary has intervened in the federal broadcast regulator’s deliberations on carriage of all-news services — just months after three colleagues landed in trouble for sending letters to the same court-like body.

In his Sept. 4 letter to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, Saskatchewan MP David Anderson urges the regulator to take a “much more market driven approach” to both news and entertainment channels.

Failing that, he says, the CRTC should make all national news broadcasters equally available on the television dial and in cable packages.

“Canadians deserve to be presented with a diversity of views when it comes to interpreting the news,” writes Anderson, whose signature notes his position as a parliamentary secretary. “Sadly, only specific Canadian newscasters are now being guaranteed a convenient spot on basic cable.”

The broadcast regulator is reviewing the rules and practices for distribution of television news specialty services, and solicited comment from interested parties by Sept. 9.

The CRTC review follows the commission’s rejection of a bid by Sun News Network, which lost $17 million last year, for mandatory distribution by cable and satellite providers.

Anderson was parliamentary secretary to the natural resources minister when he wrote the letter, and has since been promoted to parliamentary secretary to Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird.

Parliamentary secretaries are considered public office holders under the federal conflict-of-interest law due to the wide range of duties they perform in assisting ministers.

In January, ethics commissioner Mary Dawson admonished Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and two parliamentary secretaries — Eve Adams and Colin Carrie — for breaching the Conflict of Interest Act by writing letters to the CRTC in support of radio licence applications.

She noted that section nine of the act prohibits public office holders from using their positions to try to influence decision-making where doing so would improperly further the interests of another person.

In Flaherty’s case, Dawson also pointed out that he violated government guidelines for ministers and secretaries of state that forbid them from intervening with administrative tribunals such as the CRTC on any matter that requires a decision in their quasi-judicial capacity.

In all three cases, Dawson ordered the Conservative MPs to “refrain from writing any similar letters” without seeking approval from her office.

Dawson’s office would not say whether Anderson had sought permission to send his letter.

“We will follow up with Mr. Anderson,” said office spokeswoman Jocelyne Brisebois. “Beyond that, I cannot comment on individual public office holders.”

Anderson did not respond to a phone call or followup messages to his office. An aide said he was working in his constituency this week.

Anderson should not have written the letter, said Charlie Angus, the NDP ethics critic.

“This is a clear breach of the rules,” Angus said in an interview.

“The letter itself would actually be fairly funny to read if it was just David Anderson, local crank, writing to the local editor. But he’s not — he’s a parliamentary secretary holding a very influential position in the Harper government, writing to a semi-judicial body.”

In the letter, Anderson says he recently conducted a “media analysis” of several different television news providers.

“We found that although all stations provided approaches to reporting that were useful, it was very evident that for a full variety of opinion and information to be available, all national news providers must be given an equal opportunity to reach Canadians with their coverage.”

Anderson says mandatory carriage should not be granted to some and not others.

“I would urge you to move to a much more market driven approach to both news and entertainment options, but as that seems a distant possibility, I anticipate a decision that will be based on fairness and will allow Canadians to access a block of stations where all national news broadcasters such as the CBC, CTV news channel, SUN news and Global are all equally accessible on the dial and in cable packages.”


 
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Ethics czar looking into parliamentary secretary’s letter to CRTC

  1. Another push for the Con news station Sun Media. Those that want it should pay for it. So far they only draw 10K viewers at the best of times. Why are we being forced to pay for Sun trash?

  2. I believe Canadians get fair and balanced news coverage from the major networks, something that is very definitely not available from Sun. Anyone who wants to listen to their one sided half truths should pay for it, the rest of us will remain better informed through real news channels.

    • Well balanced includes the Sun. Offsets the fleabagger CBC journalism of idiocracy. Only thing CBC does right is they get OLeary setting Amanda right.

      Did you know our governments fund porn for TV? Yep, just look at the credits on late night.

      CRTC needs to be fixed, as government has no business influencing media. Most of our news is now govern,ent or a government proxy sourced and media copy typed. I will give Macleans credit here, they are not as bad as the others and go beyond copy type.

      Record CBC, Global and CTV news, then watch each of them and tell me the content isn’t the same script for them all.

  3. What a waste of political energy in do nothing for the people other that to consume our wealth via excessive taxation.

    Cable TV is so last century, I spend 8 times the amount of time on the Internet than do watching CBC brainwashing. And the only things I watch regulatory are PBS, History and NEGEO. News, I get it from the Internet as it isn’t all government controlled liberal media garbage.

    Serious, that is why I am hear and not viewing CBC fear of less governemtn int eh USA. Less government is good.

    CRTC is really just the cartel front organization, so David Anderson, please put your efforts to the future, a free, open, uncensored Internet for all. On the Internet I get 2^32 channels world wide and not forced to only see government and liberalism TV view on cable.

    Stop wasting time and our money on dead technology. No one is going to subscribe to Cable TV in 5 or 8 years. Like defunct zoos, I rather watch animals in high def Internet, less jailing of animals that way.

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