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Canada’s state media quit Twitter over label

The CBC has objected to Elon Musk’s “government-funded media” designation

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) announced on Monday that it was “pausing” its activity on Twitter after the social media platform labeled it as state-funded, arguing that this somehow impugned their editorial independence.

“Our journalism is impartial and independent. To suggest otherwise is untrue. That is why we are pausing our activities on Twitter,” the government-funded outlet tweeted.

“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 spokesperson Leon Mar said on Sunday evening. “Consequently, we will be pausing our activity on our corporate Twitter account and all CBC and Radio-Canada news-related accounts.”

The CBC is a Crown corporation, entirely owned by the Canadian state. In its 2021-22 annual analysis, it reported receiving 1.24 billion ($930 million) Canadian dollars in government funding. However, the outlet insists that its editorial policies are entirely independent of the government and guided only by “public interest.”

Mar argued that Twitter’s own policy defines government-funded media as those in which the authorities “may have varying degrees of government involvement over editorial content,” which is “clearly not the case with CBC/Radio Canada.”

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PBS host Judy Woodruf awaits the start of a Democrat presidential debate that the outlet hosted in December 2019 in Los Angeles.
Another US media outlet quits Twitter

Leader of the opposition Conservative Party Pierre Poilievre reacted to the labeling of CBC by tweeting that “Now people know that it is [Canadian PM Justin] Trudeau propaganda, not news.”

Last week, Poilievre called on Twitter owner Elon Musk to add the label to the broadcaster, saying it was needed to protect Canadians against “disinformation and manipulation by state media.” Describing the CBC as government-funded is a fact, the politician said, “and Canadians deserve the facts.”

The CBC’s Twitter boycott echoes the actions of two US outlets, the National Public Radio (NPR) and the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). Both stopped tweeting last week, in response to being labeled as government-funded. 

PBS also insisted that it was entirely editorially independent and produced “trustworthy content that features unbiased reporting.” The outlet could not argue that it didn’t receive government funding, as 31% of its revenue came from federal, state and local authorities, with another 12% coming from regional public broadcasters and universities, also heavily subsidized by the government.

Twitter originally rolled out the labeling of outlets in August 2020, tagging Russian and Chinese media as “state-affiliated” but exempting Western outlets such as the BBC and Voice of America (VOA). As documents published after Musk’s takeover showed, the platform was working hand in glove with what several US journalists described as a “censorship-industrial complex” of government agencies and politically motivated NGOs.

April 18, 2023 at 03:09AM

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