27 May 2009

CTV and Mike Duffy (Live) Found 'Guilty'

OK, it's not quite that, but they have been found by the Canadian Broadcasting Standards Council to have breached journalistic ethics when they broadcast or re-broadcast outtakes of the St├ęphane Dion interviews.

The CBSC's Atlantic Regional Panel examined the CTV Atlantic broadcast, while the National Specialty Services Panel adjudicated the Mike Duffy Live broadcast. The [Atlantic] Panel observed that the phrasing of [Steve] Murphy's question was "confusing, and not only to a person whose first language is other than English. In the strictest grammatical sense, Steve Murphy's question mixes not only tenses (present and past), but also moods (subjunctive and indicative)," so "blame for misapprehension cannot simply be laid at the feet of the interviewee."

The Atlantic Panel also concluded that the broadcast breached Article 8 of the RTNDA Code because CTV had committed to not air the false starts and its decision to override that commitment was "discourteous and inconsiderate [...]. The Panel ... considers that restarts and retakes are a common, not a rare, occurrence. The decision to extend such a courtesy was neither unreasonable nor even unusual. The Panel considers that this courtesy was the moreso justified in light of the poorly framed question."

With respect to the Mike Duffy Live Prime Time broadcast, the majority of the National Specialty Services Panel shared the view of the Atlantic Panel about the poorly-worded question and concluded that the rebroadcast of false starts on the Duffy program was unfair and contrary to Clause 6 of the CAB Code of Ethics. The majority also found that Mike Duffy's repeated misrepresentation of Liberal M.P. Geoff Regan's views on the matter constituted a breach of that same clause.

The Panel's views of the pertinent issues was that "the Liberal leader and his team had every reason to expect that the restarted matter was, in effect, “overwritten” or banished from use. The Panel considers this the moreso reasonable in light of the imprecision of the question and the confusion resulting from the failure of the interviewer to ever render what he sought clear. Had the question been articulate and well-framed, the Panel might have expected the Liberal leader to wear some responsibility for the confusion that ensued. That was not, however, the case. Even had the question been properly put, though, the broadcaster’s commitment to permit the restarts would likely have put the filmed content off-limits. In the circumstances, the question was bad and the commitment was made. The Panel views the broadcaster’s actions in the rebroadcast of the outtakes on the Duffy show as an unfair and improper presentation of news, opinion, comment and editorial."

And now CTV is rumoured to be about to get a handout from the Harper Conservatives. Nothing like rewarding the worst of the worst, now is there? GM, Chrysler, Canwest, CTV...

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