CBC Ombudsman: LNG in British Columbia: Keeping the Debate Balanced
The complainant thought the noon progamme in British Columbia was biased in favour of developing LNG capacity in the province.
By Esther Enkin for the CBC
The complainant, Anton van Walraven, thought the noon progamme in British Columbia was biased in favour of developing LNG capacity in the province. He pointed to the interview of spokespeople for the same pro-development group four times in six weeks. He had a point that this was overuse of the same interviewees, but they were not interviewed in a vacuum: other views were represented.
You are concerned that the producers of B.C. Almanac, the noon phone-in show for the province, gave far too much air time to a spokesperson of a group that supports the LNG industry in the province. You had many concerns about this over-representation of the industry’s position. You pointed out that in a six week period, between February 10 and March 29, 2016 a representative of the Resource Works Society was a guest on the program four times. You also pointed out that the same guest from the Society, the Executive Director, Stewart Muir, was used three times. You were concerned that in three of those appearances there was no description of the organization to allow listeners to understand the guest’s perspective:
Resource Works Society is not an independent organization, it is a resource industry funded organization with close links to a range of industries and industry branch organizations. It was created to forward and promote the economic and political agenda of the BC resource industry. Its communication and messaging is carefully designed with the intention to confuse the public and public debate.
You were also concerned that there was no strong or authoritative rebuttal of the information and opinions provided by the representatives of Resource Works. You stated the spokespeople were able to give their views in a “critique-free environment.” You said overall there was a lack of balance:
“the outside organization [Resource Works] was the solo guest, was present in studio while the other guests were reached by phone, or the outside organization in question received considerable more time.”
All of this led you to conclude that B.C. Almanac was in violation of many of CBC’s Journalistic Standards and Practices, among them independence, accuracy, balance, fairness and integrity:
With providing an outside organization with a clear economical and political agenda, frequent and ample radio time without proper introduction, disclosure of the outside organizations position and funding, and critical rebuttal by the presenters of the program:
- BC Almanac’s independence has been influenced,
- BC Almanac has not been honest with its audience,
- BC Almanac has not treated the parties in the discussion evenhandedly or in the absence of discussion has not provided balance,
- BC Almanac has given the impression to support the position of the outside organization and the industry is represents.
You also mentioned that you phoned into the program on March 29th, not to participate in the phone-in but to let the programmers know your view of the “inappropriateness” of the Resource Works person on air again so soon after the last appearance. You said there was no interest in what you had to say and the producer hung up on you.
Continue reading this on the CBC website, where it was first published.