The CBC has objected to Elon Musk’s ‘government-funded media’ designation.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) announced on Monday that it is “pausing” its activity on Twitter after the social media platform labeled it as ‘state-funded’, arguing that this somehow impugns its editorial independence.
“Our journalism is impartial and independent. To suggest otherwise is untrue. That is why we are pausing our activities on Twitter,” the government-funded outlet tweeted.
“Twitter can be a powerful tool for our journalists to communicate with Canadians, but it undermines the accuracy and professionalism of the work they do to allow our independence to be falsely described in this way,” CBC spokesperson Leon Mar said on Sunday evening. “Consequently, we will be pausing our activity on our corporate Twitter account and all CBC and Radio-Canada news-related accounts.”
The CBC is a Crown corporation, owned entirely by the state. In its 2021-22 annual analysis, it reported receiving Can$1.24 billion (US$930 million) in government funding. However, the outlet insists that its editorial policies are entirely independent of the government and guided only by “public interest.”
Mar argued that Twitter’s own policy defines government-funded media as those in which the authorities “may have varying degrees of government involvement over editorial content,” which is “clearly not the case with CBC/Radio Canada.”
Leader of the opposition Conservative Party Pierre Poilievre reacted to the labeling of CBC by tweeting that “Now people know that it is [Canadian PM Justin] Trudeau propaganda, not news.”
Last week, Poilievre called on Twitter owner Elon Musk to add the label to the broadcaster, saying it is needed to protect Canadians from “disinformation and manipulation by state media.” Describing the CBC as government-funded is a fact, the politician said, “and Canadians deserve the facts.”
The CBC’s Twitter boycott echoes the actions of two US outlets, National Public Radio (NPR) and the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). Both stopped tweeting last week in response to being labeled as government-funded.
PBS also insisted that it is entirely editorially independent and produces “trustworthy content that features unbiased reporting.” The outlet could not argue that it does not receive government funding, as 31% of its revenue comes from federal, state, and local authorities, with another 12% coming from regional public broadcasters and universities, also heavily subsidized by the government.
Twitter originally rolled out the labeling of outlets in August 2020, tagging Russian and Chinese media as ‘state-affiliated’ but exempting Western outlets such as the BBC and Voice of America (VOA). As documents published after Musk’s takeover show, the platform was working hand in glove with what several US journalists described as a “censorship-industrial complex” of government agencies and politically motivated NGOs.