CBC and Radio-Canada on-air talent banned from making paid appearances

CBC Amanda Lang
People walk into the CBC building in Toronto on April 4, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

TORONTO – The CBC says it is banning any outside paid appearances by its on-air journalists following several controversies involving allegations of conflict-of-interest.

The public broadcaster issued the new policy in a memo to staff Thursday saying “paid appearances can create an adverse impact on the corporation.”

“Given that paid appearances can create an adverse impact on the Corporation, CBC/Radio-Canada will no longer approve paid appearances by its on-air journalistic employees. In order to further our commitment to transparency, we will continue to disclose all appearances on our websites,” the memo read.

READ MORE: CBC calls Amanda Lang sabotage allegations ‘categorically untrue’

The memo says on-air journalists may speak at public events, make appearances or moderate events but “must make sure that the activity does not represent any real or perceived conflict of interest” and “get permission from his or her supervisor to do so.”

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CBC spokesperson added the new policy does not apply to freelance journalists.

The memo was co-signed by CBC News Editor-in-Chief Jennifer McGuire and Michel Cormier, Radio-Canada’s executive director of news and current affairs.

The change in policy comes after media website Canadaland published a report last week alleging CBC business reporter Amanda Lang had attempted to “sabotage” a story about the Royal Bank of Canada and its use of temporary foreign workers in 2013.

Canadaland reported Lang was in a relationship with an RBC board member and had been paid to speak at public events sponsored by the bank. It was also reported that Lang had accepted money last summer from the insurer Manulife for moderating a seminars, and from Sun Life for a speaking appearance.

The CBC defended Lang saying the paid speaking appearances were approved by management. Lang also vehemently defended herself saying she disclosed her relationship to management and denied attempting to sink the investigative RBC report by her colleague Kathy Tomlinson.

Former CBC journalist Frank Koller wrote on his blog that other CBC personalities including Peter Mansbridge, Diane Buckner, Diana Swain, and Evan Solomon have been paid for appearances from outside organizations in recent months.

Global News editorial standards prohibits staff from taking paid appearances “on behalf of commercial, for-profit or corporate interests.”

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“We recognized paid appearances were a growing problem when we published a new edition of our principles and practices in 2012,” said Ron Waksman, who heads up editorial standards and practices for Global News. “Accepting fees for speaking engagements on behalf of commercial, for-profit or corporate interests is a non-starter.”

In the memo issued today the CBC said it “holds itself to the highest standards of journalistic intergrity.”

“However, a changing environment in which the public expects more transparency from institutions and the media is making the practice of paid outside activities for our journalists less acceptable to audiences.”