The CBC and Radio-Canada won't air a TV commercial attacking the federal government's influence on the public broadcaster. Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, an independent Canadian media watchdog, launched a campaign Monday aiming to "Free the CBC" from what it says will be Conservative control.

The CBC and Radio-Canada won't air a TV commercial attacking the federal government's influence on the public broadcaster.

Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, an independent Canadian media watchdog, launched a campaign Monday aiming to "Free the CBC" from what it says will be Conservative control.

The commercial shows a man asking an actor portraying Prime Minister Stephen Harper, to respond to criticisms that he's "taken control of the CBC and … undermined the arms-length relationship between our national public broadcaster and the federal government." Then, security guards appear, the man is tied up, put in the trunk of a car and driven away. 

The ad targets a new law which came out of Bill C-60, an omnibus budget bill, that "gives the government the right to be present at the bargaining table, giving it unprecedented involvement and control of crown corporations" including the CBC.

"The Harper government can exercise control over the wages and working conditions of all CBC employees, including all those who produce news and current affairs programs," the watchdog argues. "This gives Stephen Harper an unprecedented capacity to undermine the CBC’s editorial independence and turn our national public broadcaster into a government propaganda machine."

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CBC spokesperson France Belisle pointed to the broadcaster's policy on advocacy advertising, and told J-Source in an email that "this advocacy advertisement about CBC/Radio-Canada and its broadcast by CBC/Radio-Canada could imply an endorsement on our part of the (Friends of Canadian Broadcasting) campaign, this is why it was refused." 

CBC president Hubert T. Lacroix had told staff earlier he "won't fight our battles on the front pages of newspapers" because he doesn't "see that as being useful in the pursuit of solutions." At the time, Lacroix sent a letter to the Standing Committee on Finance outlining concerns about the bill

At the end of May, several media organizations, such as the Canadian Association of Journalists and the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, also launched an advertising campaign against Bill C-60