Could Fox News be banned from Canadian airwaves? CRTC weighs call

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WATCH: Tucker Carlson out at Fox News, Don Lemon fired from CNN in major U.S. cable news shakeup – Apr 24, 2023

The CRTC has launched a public consultation on whether to ban Fox News from Canadian airwaves after a complaint over incendiary comments made about LGBTQ2 people on the right-wing American network.

The broadcast regulator posted the notice on its website Wednesday, saying it is accepting comments from interested parties and the public until June 2.

Egale Canada, a Toronto-based LGBTQ2 advocacy group, urged the CRTC to hold the consultation in an April 4 open letter that cited “false and horrifying claims” about transgender people made by then-host Tucker Carlson during a March 28 broadcast.

“This programming is in clear violation of Canadian broadcasting standards and has no place on Canadian broadcasting networks,” Egale’s executive director Helen Kennedy wrote.

Carlson was fired from Fox News last week, but a spokesperson for Egale told Global News it remains “committed to the call” to remove the channel from Canadian airwaves, citing anti-LGBTQ2 rhetoric made by other hosts at the network.

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“The issue of Fox News inciting hate, violence, and discrimination in its programming extends beyond one individual,” a spokesperson for the group said in a statement.

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The segment of Tucker Carlson Tonight in question, which remains online after Carlson’s firing, came a day after the mass shooting at a Nashville Christian school that killed three nine-year-old children and three adults. The shooter, identified initially by police as a woman and then as a transgender man who was a former student at The Covenant School, was killed by police.

“During the segment, Carlson made the inflammatory and false claim that trans people are ‘targeting’ Christians. To position trans people in existential opposition to Christianity is an incitement of violence against trans people that is plain to any viewer,” Egale said in the open letter to the CRTC.

“Lies and hateful propaganda are not news programming.”

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Carlson — who has a long history of anti-trans rhetoric — spoke about what he described as the dangers of transgender “ideology” while downplaying the dangers trans people face and arguing they enjoy social, economic and educational advantages in the U.S.

During the broadcast in question, Carlson cited an open letter released by Egale the same day which was unrelated to the previous day’s shooting. That open letter noted “an unprecedented and exponential rise in anti-2SLGBTQI, hate-fueled, and gender-critical movements” around the world.

“This is a lie,” Carlson told his viewers.

Several advocacy groups including the Human Rights Campaign have noted a steep rise in anti-trans violence over the past few years, with many incidents turning deadly. Transgender health organization GenderGP points to research saying trans people are four times more likely to experience violence — either physical or sexual — compared to cisgender people.

Cisgender is when a person’s gender identity matches the sex they were assigned at birth.

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The CRTC consultation will consider whether to remove Fox News from the broadcast regulator’s list of non-Canadian programming services authorized for distribution in Canada.

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Stations and services on that list do not require a CRTC licence to operate in Canada the way Canadian broadcast services do, and therefore are not strictly bound to the rules Canadian services must follow. Those rules forbid the broadcasting of abusive comments or pictures that could expose individuals or groups to “hatred or contempt” on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, and other factors.

However, Egale notes the CRTC has already demonstrated it holds non-Canadian services to that same standard.

Last year, when the CRTC banned the distribution of Russian state broadcaster Russia Today following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the regulator said non-Canadian services can be removed from the list if “the content … is at odds with the standard to which the Commission would hold a Canadian programming service” and would thereby violate the CRTC’s rules if it were licensed.

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Fox News did not respond to a request for comment on the CRTC’s consultation or Egale’s allegations.

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Since the consultation was launched on Wednesday, two interventions have already been received from Canadians who oppose removing Fox News.

Both comments noted Carlson is no longer employed at the network, with one adding the comments were Carlson’s own and “were not presented as news.”

That intervener said removing the channel would violate freedom of speech protections in Canada, where viewers have the right to determine what they want to watch and agree with.

“If we don’t agree with certain opinions, there are several actions that we as individuals can take,” it said. “We can change the channel or station or turn the tv or radio off or unsubscribe from the tv channel.

“A dangerous precedent will be set by allowing a special interest group to dictate what we can and cannot watch or listen to.”

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