CRTC Weighs Ban on Fox News, Thousands of Canadians Comment
A public consultation by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has garnered an overwhelming response, with thousands of Canadians expressing support for the prohibition of Fox News in Canada. Submissions started in March and closed on June 2, 2023.
The consultation was initiated in response to a plea from Egale Canada in April, an LGBTQ rights group, calling for a ban on the American news channel from Canadian cable packages due to transphobic remarks made by ex-Fox News host, Tucker Carlson.
Numerous human rights organizations, including several LBGTQ groups, have voiced their support for the ban. An examination of 100 randomly selected individual submissions by The National Post revealed about 70% were in favour of barring Fox News from Canadian TV networks.
Many of the criticisms argue that Fox News actively undermines Canada’s democratic ideals. A common sentiment among the responses was that this isn’t about censorship but protecting citizens from potential misinformation and manipulation. One respondent commented, “Fox is a propaganda outlet which undermines the democratic ideals of Canada. This is not censorship, this is shielding intellectually vulnerable people from brainwashing.”
However, the proposal has also sparked a debate about freedom of expression. Some Canadians have expressed concerns that removing Fox News from available TV channels would constitute government censorship.
The CRTC currently curates a list of international TV channels authorized for distribution by Canadian cable, satellite, and IPTV providers. In 2022, it had revoked the licenses of Russia Today and RT France following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Should the CRTC decide to ban Fox News, the channel will no longer be included in Canadian cable packages, nor will it be accessible through TV service providers. However, Canadians would still be able to access Fox News via the internet.
In their request to the CRTC, Egale Canada centred their argument around a specific segment of the Tucker Carlson Tonight show, accusing Fox News of inciting hatred and violence against the 2SLGBTQI community. They also argued that foreign broadcasters should adhere to the same regulations as Canadian ones, which prohibit broadcasting content that is likely to incite hate or contempt towards any individuals or groups.
The Canadian Anti-Hate Network, in its submission to the CRTC, claimed that the controversial Carlson segment contained at least four instances of unlawful hate propaganda aimed at the transgender community.
While some argue that the call for a ban is based on a now-cancelled segment and shouldn’t reflect on the network as a whole, other groups like the Canadian Women’s Foundation and the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund have cited numerous instances of other hateful content on Fox News. They argue that this content exposes marginalized groups to hatred and contempt.
Experts warn that if the CRTC does proceed with the ban based on a single segment, it could face accusations of arbitrary decision-making. The Forum for Research and Policy in Communications points out the need for a more robust record of violations to justify a ban and to avoid infringing on the protected freedom of expression.
The CRTC is yet to make a decision in response to these submissions. What do you think? Should Fox News be banned? Or should people just…change the channel?