Saturday, December 4, 2021

Canadian news media dominated by corporate lobbyists

Canada news bias conflict of interest lobbyists disclosure accountability bias

An intensive six-week study of key political shows across multiple networks and a review of lobbyist filings conducted by Ricochet in collaboration with Jacobin Magazine has revealed significant bias in Canadian television news shows. Lobbyists for banks, oil companies, arms manufacturers and other sundry corporate interests routinely appear on news shows without any public disclosure of their big money ties.

In a typical example of the practice, former Liberal New Brunswick premier Brian Gallant appeared numerous times on CBC News Network’s flagship political show, Power and Politics, in the days leading up to this year’s federal election. Viewers of the show were not informed of Gallant’s position as a senior advisor at Navigator Inc., one of the country’s largest corporate PR and lobbying firms.

Political panelists’ corporate lobbying interests are rarely disclosed on Canadian news shows, and this lack of transparency undermines news outlets’ claims to impartiality.

In the wake of the federal election, there was plenty of commentary about how media coverage of the party leaders and campaigns has shaped the views of the electorate. What this framing ignores is that even between elections, our media moulds our politics.

Despite the digital revolution, television remains the dominant source of news in Canada. Last year, a study by the Media Technology Monitor found that nearly half the population finds out about current affairs by watching TV. More than twice as many said TV was their go-to medium rather than online sources, apps and social media.

Jacobin and Ricochet’s review of Canadian television news commentary and analysis from March 29 to May 9, 2021, catalogued data on more than 860 relevant television appearances. More than one in every 10 guests analyzing the news worked for firms paid to influence the government and the public. Despite their vested interests, networks often described these panellists as “strategists.”


Canadian news media dominated by corporate lobbyists

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