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Canadian broadcast journalists determined to limit reuse of political coverage in partisan ads

A clip of a CBC interview with Justin Trudeau was used in an online attack ad by the Conservatives without permission. CBC

The Conservatives released an online attack ad this week using footage from a CBC interview without permission from the broadcaster. On behalf of Global, CTV and Rogers, the CBC has issued the following statement about the use of broadcast footage in political ads.

Protecting Journalistic Content

Today, CBC/Radio-Canada asked Facebook and YouTube to take down a political ad that not only uses CBC’s news footage but also re-edits it.

In recent years, social media and the ongoing technology revolution have led to some blurring of the necessary bright lines that must exist between journalists on the one hand; and sponsors, advertisers, political parties and governments, on the other.

Readers, listeners and viewers need to be confident that the political coverage they enjoy is not in any manner framed by commercial concerns or partisan interest.

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That is why Canadian broadcast journalistic organizations – including CTV, CBC, Global and Rogers — are so determined to limit the re-use of political coverage in paid advertising. Our integrity as providers of serious, independent coverage of political parties and governments rests on this.

When a TV clip of an interview of a party leader, shows up in another party’s advertising edited in a way that shifts the context of the facts, this may cause viewer confusion and even suspicion about our journalism, and the intentions of journalists. It can damage our credibility, independence and integrity as neutral participants.

At no time is it more important to insist on these boundaries than in an election period.

With our fixed date elections today, campaigning begins earlier and the formal writ period is no longer the boundary that it was. So for broadcasters, the pre-writ period is as sensitive as the formal campaign itself.

Our guiding principle is simple and clear:

No one – no individual candidate or political party, and no government, corporation or NGO – may re-use our creative and copyrighted property without our permission. This includes our brands, our talent and our content.

Canada’s broadcasters will defend vigorously both their property and their journalistic reputation from illicit use.

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