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Friday, November 09, 2007

CAJ concerned over report's withdrawal

Attention All Newsrooms:

OTTAWA, Nov. 9 /CNW/ - The Canadian Association of Journalists is disappointed that CBC News chose not to air a documentary Nov. 6, in the wake of last-minute complaints from Chinese officials.

"The CAJ is concerned the CBC has sent a message of self-censorship by pulling a previously aired and carefully vetted documentary just as it was about to be broadcast," said CAJ president Mary Agnes Welch.

The CBC had already aired Beyond the Red Wall this spring and Radio-Canada aired a French-dubbed version last month, nearly a year after getting a green light from CBC lawyers and senior editors.

The report documents the experience of a Canadian member of the spiritual movement Falun Gong, which is outlawed in China.

CBC spokesman Jeff Keay confirmed that after receiving calls from China's embassy in Ottawa and its consulate in Toronto, the independent public broadcaster decided to pull the documentary from its lineup. He explained the CBC is to review the content "to make sure it's a good, solid project."

Keay noted that the Chinese government is concerned about articles in the Chinese-language press, which claim the CBC supports Falun Gong. He added that political upheaval in Pakistan also led the CBC to withdraw the broadcast by Toronto documentarian Peter Rowe and re-air a report on Pakistan's president, Pervez Musharraf.

The CAJ regards editorial independence as a cornerstone of good journalism and notes its importance in a statement of principles. The document urges journalists to resist the influence of private and public interests such
as governments. The CAJ is developing a detailed position paper about editorial independence.

The Canadian Association of Journalists is a professional organization with some 1,500 members across Canada. The CAJ's primary role is to provide public-interest advocacy and high quality professional development for its members.

For further information: Mary Agnes Welch, president, CAJ, (204)
943-6575; John Dickins, executive director, CAJ, (613) 868-5442, www.caj.ca;
Personne-ressource: Sue Montgomery, administratrice, ACJ, (514) 248-1928

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