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Twitter adds ‘Government-funded Media’ tag to CBC account

CBC media relations director Leon Mar says Twitter’s decision defies its own policy
Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre rises during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Friday, March 31, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle

One of CBC’s Twitter accounts now has a label which describes the broadcaster as “Government-funded Media.”

News of the addition to @CBC was shared late Sunday on Twitter by Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre, who had asked the social media company to add the label to accounts that promote “news-related” content from CBC English but did not ask the same for its French counterpart.

CBC media relations director Leon Mar says Twitter’s decision defies its own policy, which says government-funded media “may have varying degrees of government involvement over editorial content.”

Mar says that is “clearly not the case with CBC/Radio-Canada.”

He says CBC/Radio-Canada is publicly funded through a parliamentary appropriation that is voted upon by all MPs, and that its editorial independence is protected in law in the Broadcasting Act.

Poilievre, in his tweet, also posted a link to a petition on the Conservative’s website that calls for the CBC to be defunded.

“Now people know that it is Trudeau propaganda, not news,” the tweet on the Conservative leader’s post said.

The Canadian Press emailed Twitter asking for an explanation of the added tag, and the company responded with a poop emoji.

Mar, meanwhile, said there has been no discussion between Twitter and CBC/Radio-Canada.

The corporation has drawn a distinction between “government” and “public” funding because of the fact that the money it receives is granted through a vote made in Parliament.

After such a label was applied to the BBC, the broadcaster pushed back and Twitter eventually changed the tag to “publicly funded media.”

The CBC’s board of directors determines how the funding it receives is spent. In 2021-22, the CBC received more than $1.2 billion in government funding, a decrease from about $1.4 billion in 2020-21.

Poilievre said in a sit-down interview last July with right-wing outlet True North that the only justification for having a public broadcaster is to provide content the private market does not. He argued that is not the case for CBC’s English services.

He said in the interview that he would preserve a small amount for French-language and other linguistic minorities because they will not get news services provided by the market.

CBC has said that targeting public money at only one language group would require the Broadcasting Act to be rewritten.

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