CBC Management has indicated that they are working on bringing more voices to programming to balance business commentator Kevin O'Leary, and CBC ombudsman Esther Enkin strongly suggests they do so soon.

By Esther Enkin, CBC ombudsman

The complainant, Dave Francis, objected to Kevin O’Leary’s role as a business commentator on CBC News Morning. He pointed out that CBC policy obliges it to provide a range of perspectives and he did not think that Mr. O’Leary’s strong views were appropriately balanced. CBC Management has indicated that they are working on bringing more voices to programming, and I strongly suggest they do so soon.

COMPLAINT

You wrote to express your concern about Mr. O’Leary’s commentaries you listen to “almost every morning” on CBC News Network. You said that it is appropriate for him to give investment advice based on his expertise but you question his suitability to give his opinions on matters of business practice and policy:

. . . most of the time he is giving opinions on things such as “teenagers should work 18 hours a day” or “If you want to stand out when applying for a job, you should offer to work for free for a year.”


Related content on J-Source:


Many of these opinions are not business advice, but personal, philosophic opinions that represent the beliefs of the infamous one per cent – the rich, the wealthy, the greedy. . .

I am sick and tired of hearing a multi-millionaire give his opinions on how Canadians should live, and I'm sick and tired of having Kevin O'Leary teach Canadians that they should be greedy, self-interested, self-promoting, anti-environmental money-grubbers.

You thought that CBC should be obliged to give equal time to “opposing viewpoints.”

MANAGEMENT RESPONSE

The managing editor of CBC News Network, Jennifer Harwood, replied to your concerns. She said that the purpose of including Mr. O’Leary as a commentator was to add a particular perspective and opinion on daily business stories. She explained that his background makes him an appropriate choice to do so:

Mr. O'Leary’s work developing and running software companies and his investment firm helps bring context around stories and topics. Although Kevin and his opinions can be controversial, he often adds value based on his background. For example, his comments recently on the changes that saw Microsoft end support for Windows XP and Office 2003.

She agreed with you that CBC is obliged to provide more than one perspective. She said that the staff at CBC News Network seek out other interviewees to counter Mr. O’Leary’s point of view. She said: “For example, we frequently feature guests such as the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives economist Armine Yalnizyan.” She informed you that she is planning to “expand the range of opinion offered around business news and issues,” and that you should notice the changes in the near future.

REVIEW

There are two areas of CBC journalistic policy that pertain in this case. One deals with the commitment to balance by providing multiple perspectives over a reasonable period of time. Range of opinion and perspective are at the very heart of fairness and integrity in journalism.

To continue reading this review, please go the CBC ombudsman's website where this was originally published.


Related content on J-Source:


Tamara Baluja is an award-winning journalist with CBC Vancouver and the 2018 Michener-Deacon fellow for journalism education. She was the associate editor for J-Source from 2013-2014.