The recent dust-up between Twitter and the CBC over a “government funded media” label sparked fiery rhetoric from both sides. Opponents of the CBC invoked the notion of propaganda from the public broadcaster, while supporters responded that such comments amounted to an attack on a Canadian institution. That heated debate obscures the reality that there is a discussion worth having about the CBC’s independence, its transparency, and public reporting. Monica Auer, the executive director of Canada’s Forum on Research and Policy in Communications, recently wrote about that issue and she joins the Law Bytes podcast to assess whether the CBC is as independent as it says it is.
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The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 165: Monica Auer on Whether the CBC Is As Independent As It Says It Is
The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 134: Monica Auer on CRTC Governance, Content Regulation and the Radio-Canada Decision
Over the past couple of weeks, there has been mounting outrage over a CRTC decision involving Radio-Canada and a broadcast segment from 2020 in which the N-word was used multiple times as part of a discussion of a book that contains the word in its title. That decision has sparked cries of censorship and concerns about the CRTC. Given that Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez and the government want to give the Commission even more power over Internet content as part of Bill C-11, the implications extend beyond this case. Monica Auer, the executive director of the Forum for Research and Policy in Communications, joins the Law Bytes podcast to discuss the latest developments, the broader concerns with CRTC governance, and whether assurances regarding Internet speech safeguards stand up to careful scrutiny.
Telecom and broadcast policy figured prominently in season one of the Law Bytes podcast. With Canada currently studying potential reforms and cultural issues emerging as a possible electoral issue, there are no shortage of issues worth of discussion. Given its role as a telecom and broadcast regulator, the CRTC was the subject of several episodes: Monica Auer of FRPC talked about her extensive access to information work on the CRTC, while former CRTC Commissioner Peter Menzies joined the podcast to help sort through Cancon funding, Internet regulation, and the role of the Commission.
Many Canadians follow telecommunications and broadcast issues at the CRTC from a distance – the cost of wireless services, the speed of their Internet access, the availability of broadcasting choice. Others engage more closely on issues such as net neutrality, Cancon regulation, or Netflix taxes. But there is one Canadian who doesn’t just follow the CRTC. She watches it through the use of access to information laws that present a perspective on the CRTC that would otherwise remain hidden from view. Monica Auer, the Executive Director of the Forum for Research and Policy in Communications, joins the podcast this week to talk about insider access, slow reimbursement of costs for public interest groups, the number of CRTC meetings, and the Commission’s seeming indifference to commissioning original research. The interview is interspersed with comments from current CRTC Ian Scott taken from one of his first public speeches after being named chair in 2017.