The article you just read was brought to you by a few thousand dedicated readers. Will you join them?

Thanks for coming by The Tyee and reading one of many original articles we’ll post today. Our team works hard to publish in-depth stories on topics that matter on a daily basis. Our motto is: No junk. Just good journalism.

Just as we care about the quality of our reporting, we care about making our stories accessible to all who want to read them and provide a pleasant reading experience. No intrusive ads to distract you. No paywall locking you out of an article you want to read. No clickbait to trick you into reading a sensational article.

There’s a reason why our site is unique and why we don’t have to rely on those tactics — our Tyee Builders program. Tyee Builders are readers who chip in a bit of money each month (or one-time) to our editorial budget. This amazing program allows us to pay our writers fairly, keep our focus on quality over quantity of articles, and provide a pleasant reading experience for those who visit our site.

In the past year, we’ve been able to double our staff team and boost our reporting. We invest all of the revenue we receive into producing more and better journalism. We want to keep growing, but we need your support to do it.

Fewer than 1 in 100 of our average monthly readers are signed up to Tyee Builders. If we reach 1% of our readers signing up to be Tyee Builders, we could continue to grow and do even more.

If you appreciate what The Tyee publishes and want to help us do more, please sign up to be a Tyee Builder today. You pick the amount, and you can cancel any time.

Support our growing independent newsroom and join Tyee Builders today.
Canada needs more independent media. And independent media needs you.

Did you know that most news organizations in Canada are owned by just a handful of companies? And that these companies have been shutting down newsrooms and laying off reporters continually over the past few decades?

Fact-based, credible journalism is essential to our democracy. Unlike many other newsrooms across the country, The Tyee’s independent newsroom is stable and growing.

How are we able to do this? The Tyee Builder program. Tyee Builders are readers who chip into our editorial budget so that we can keep doing what we do best: fact-based, in-depth reporting on issues that matter to our readers. No paywall. No junk. Just good journalism.

Fewer than 1 in 100 of our average monthly readers are signed up to be Tyee Builders. If we reach 1% of our readers signing up to be Tyee Builders, we could continue to grow and do even more.

If you appreciate what The Tyee publishes and want to help us do more, please sign up to be a Tyee Builder today. You pick the amount, and you can cancel any time.

Support our growing independent newsroom and join Tyee Builders today.
We value: Our readers.
Our independence. Our region.
The power of real journalism.
We're reader supported.
Get our newsletter free.
Help pay for our reporting.
Mediacheck

Why Wouldn't a Public Broadcaster Air a National Election Debate?

But CBC refused, and that's not the only odd choice it made this campaign.

By Michael Geist 6 Oct 2015 | TheTyee.ca

Michael Geist holds the Canada Research Chair in internet and E-commerce Law at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law. He can reached at mgeist@uottawa.ca or online at www.michaelgeist.ca.

Hubert Lacroix, the president of the CBC, recently placed the future of Canada's national public broadcaster on the electoral map with comments aimed at sparking a renewed debate on future funding models. Lacroix disputed claims that low ratings are to blame for the CBC's financial struggles, instead pointing to the need to consider alternative fee schemes, including new levies on internet providers or supplementary charges on television purchases.

While disagreement over CBC funding is as old as the broadcaster itself, the more uncomfortable discussion for the CBC is its coverage of the current election campaign -- particularly its approach to national debates and political party advertising -- which raise troubling questions about its relevance in the current media environment.

Most would agree that the CBC features an excellent group of reporters and boasts insightful analysts for its panel discussions. However, rather than working to make itself an invaluable resource for the election, the CBC has been unnecessarily restrictive in its broadcasting choices and in the use of its content.

The most puzzling decision has been its refusal to broadcast debates hosted by other organizations. The CBC may be disappointed with the debate approach adopted by the political parties in this campaign, but that does not change the sense that if the national public broadcaster does not air programs in the national public interest, it calls into question the very need for a public broadcaster. Indeed, the CBC seems to have cut its nose to spite its face by doing its best to prove its critics right.

Copyright confused

The CBC's odd coverage choices are not limited to the missing debates. Its use of video clips from the debates have also been unnecessarily restrictive. For example, before analyzing the recent Munk Debates on the "At Issue" panel, host Peter Mansbridge warned viewers that "we are limited with the excerpts with the amount we are allowed to show." A similar warning preceded the discussion at other debates.

Yet the reality is that there was no need to be restrictive in the use of video clips. Canadian copyright law permits the use of copyrighted works without permission as part of the fair dealing clause. News reporting is one of the enumerated purposes and even expanded clips would easily qualify under a fair dealing analysis. All news organizations are free to use as much of the video from debates as necessary to highlight key moments and positions of each leader. To suggest that the law creates significant limits on the ability to show debate clips is inaccurate.

In fact, the CBC's misreading of the law is not limited to the use of clips within its news broadcasts. Just prior to the election call, it asked YouTube and Facebook to remove a Conservative campaign advertisement that used clips from a CBC interview with Liberal leader Justin Trudeau. To support its takedown claim, the CBC argued that "no one -- no individual candidate or political party, and no government, corporation or NGO -- may re-use our creative and copyrighted property without our permission. This includes our brands, our talent and our content."

That too is wrong. The law features important limitations on the rights of all copyright holders and all media organizations regularly rely on them in their reporting. The limits of copyright extend to campaign commercials and there is little that the CBC (or anyone else) can do about it.

With its rejection of the national debates, its limited use of debate clips, and its attempts to limit re-use of its broadcast content, Canada's national public broadcaster has marginalized itself during the election campaign at the very time that it could be demonstrating its relevance to the national political coverage.  [Tyee]

Share this article

The Tyee is supported by readers like you

Join us and grow independent media in Canada

Facts matter. Get The Tyee's in-depth journalism delivered to your inbox for free.

LATEST STORIES

The Barometer

Tyee Poll: What Is One Art or Design Skill You Wish to Learn?

Take this week's poll