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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Chinese TV in Canada opens door to propaganda

An excellent piece by Elaine Xie, co-chair of Canadians Against Propaganda, a coalition of 29 organizations founded to stop the spread of China's propaganda in Canada. The association is appealing to have the CRTC's decision overturned. This is followed by a great editorial called Channels of distortion. Related articles on CRTC’s decision to allow 9 Communist TV channels to air in Canada can be found here, here, here, here and here! Let's keep on reminding CRTC about the scope of their mandate. Tell your MP to speak out for your/our rights.

AP/Winnipeg Press - Jan 14 2007: On the Friday before Christmas, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission quietly released a long-awaited decision, approving nine controversial state-run television channels from China for broadcast on Canada's digital cable network.

With this approval, the CRTC has opened the door for a foreign communist regime to incite hatred against targeted groups in Canada, using our own airwaves. Worse, the CRTC acknowledged this threat but did not act to stop it.

These nine services, collectively known as the Great Wall Package, are represented by China International Television Corporation (CITVC), a wholly owned subsidiary of China Central Television (CCTV), the main television station of China's ruling Communist party. They are sponsored in Canada by media giant Rogers Communications.

Canadians Against Propaganda was among more than 2,500 groups and individuals to submit letters to the CRTC against the Great Wall application when the CRTC made the unprecedented move earlier this year to reopen public comments for evidence of hate incitement. More than 2,000 others signed petition signatures against the application.

CAP made clear in its submission the well-documented fact that state-run media in China, including television networks, have for decades been used by the Communist party to incite hatred against persecuted groups. They are weapons of a repressive and deceitful regime.

The CRTC was presented with a comprehensive investigation published by international media watchdog Reporters Without Borders, which called the Chinese regime's news agency, Xinhua, "the world's biggest propaganda agency."

Other submissions made clear that the Communist regime continues its persecutions of Tibetans, Falun Gong practitioners, Christian house churches, democracy advocates, Muslim Uighurs and others, and that CCTV is obligated to toe the Communist party's line on these persecutions through its programming.

The CRTC, however, chose not to see the big picture. In its decision, the CRTC overlooked the context in which these stations operate. Instead, it chose to consider only "issues that relate directly to the sponsored services themselves." For the CRTC, that meant taped broadcasts that had aired on the networks.

Despite the extreme difficulty in acquiring taped evidence of spontaneous broadcasts in a foreign country, in a foreign language – a difficulty that was communicated to the CRTC -- several tapes were provided. And the CRTC found many of the programs abusive.

CRTC concluded that on multiple occasions CCTV-4, one of the nine networks, had exposed "the targeted group or individual to hatred or contempt."

The CRTC called comments in several of the broadcasts targeting Falun Gong "clearly abusive, in that they are expressions of extreme ill will against Falun Gong and its founder, Li Hongzhi." The CRTC added: "The derision, hostility and abuse encouraged by such comments could expose the targeted group or individual to hatred or contempt" and in some cases the statements could even "incite violence and threaten the physical security of Falun Gong practitioners."

The CRTC then approved CCTV-4, allowing it to air freely in Canada with no monitoring precautions whatsoever.

The rationale for this decision is foggy at best. The CRTC said in its ruling that it was "unable to conclude that the offending stories" -- programs aired between 1999 and 2001 -- "are typical of the content currently aired on CCTV-4."

However, in April 2006, CAP had couriered a request to CITVC -- in which the CRTC was copied -- calling for tapes of six specific programs aired as recently as November 2005, offering to pay shipping costs. The request was ignored. The CRTC made only a brief mention of this in its decision. Apparently, the CRTC believes the refusal to provide more recent programming is evidence that the programs did not incite hatred. The CRTC went on to say it will "expect that the CCTV-4 service that will be distributed in Canada will be free of abusive comment."

It is hard to understand what this expectation is based on. In fact, a Canadian Chinese-language broadcaster was already reprimanded in 2002 after it aired a CCTV-4 program attacking Falun Gong. The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council ruled that the program breached five separate articles of the broadcaster and journalist ethics codes. Its contents were "nothing more or less than a biased attack on Falun Gong by the producer of that news item." And an on-air apology was ordered of the Canadian carrier.

CCTV has never apologized. They have never accepted that they have broadcast abusive comments, despite CRTC's finding that they have done so numerous times. And they have never promised to cease such programming.

Nonetheless, they have somehow earned the CRTC's blind trust.

As Canadians we value freedom of expression of the press. We deserve to be exposed to a variety of viewpoints from a variety of sources. This is part of our democracy. However, Canadians also expect that these media will not be used to inflict hatred, discrimination, or worse yet violence against groups in Canada. It is the CRTC's job to protect Canadians from this. Sadly, in this case they have failed. The CRTC's unfounded faith in CCTV has put thousands of Canadians at risk.

Channels of distortion

Asian Pacific Post: Editorial: 12 January - Over Christmas and without much ado, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), our guardian of the airwaves, approved nine Chinese state-run television networks to broadcast their shows in Canada.

The networks called the “Great Wall package” are wholly-owned by China Central Television, the main state-run television network in China.

The nine channels will carry news, sports, and entertainment programming in several Chinese dialects to capitalize on Canada’s rapidly growing Chinese-speaking market.

The networks’ journalists and producers are overseen in China by the China Radio Film and Television Group, which describes itself as “an important mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Central Committee, an important cultural battlefield for the CCP and our country.”

As such these channels give voice to Beijing’s defamation of the Dalai Lama, why China should rule democratic Taiwan, attack Falun Gong practitioners as members of an evil cult and promote the defiance of the Vatican in the middle kingdom.

China-state run media is also infamous for its reality-deficient reports laden with political prejudice.

Remember how China suppressed the outbreak of SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) epidemic in the summer of 2003, which killed 800 people around the world, including 44 in Toronto.

In June 2005, the Publicity Department of the Communist Party told China Central Television, which owns the nine stations given the green light by CRTC, that national press must “communicate” with officials in the area being investigated and inform them of the content of the critical reporting before publishing the article or airing the programme.

Chinese television news producers were also instructed to highlight the positive. Even in exposés on corruption, they must emphasise that the sleaze was an exception while the overwhelming majority of officials had high moral standards.

This simply means there will be no coverage by these channels on China’s lack of accountability or the destruction of its environment.

Don’t expect news on the air pollution that kills 400,000 people a year, chemical spills that contaminate rivers or that 660 Chinese cities face extreme water shortages.

What you will get is the Communist party’s version that will paint the internationally acclaimed human rights advocate as corrupt or the whistleblower as being an agent for a foreign government.

You will be force fed views that the individual being detained without trial for years in a Chinese labour camp is a terrorist.

You will be told that nothing untoward happened in Tiananmen Square, there is no cultural genocide in Tibet, Taiwan is a rebel province and there is no widespread torture and killing of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners in China.

The core mandate of CRTC is to ensure that what is broadcast in Canada reflects Canadian identity, attitudes and opinions.

Maybe the CRTC can tell us when the suppression and distortion of news became a Canadian value.

The Chinese ambassador to Canada, Shumin Lu says the nine new channels would “help diversify the cultural life of the Canadian people.”

We say thanks but no thanks.

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