Well, it was bound to happen. The CBC is in a snit over those new ads that the Conservative Party released the other day. They — the public broadcaster that is — complain that their (our) intellectual property was violated when the Conservatives used footage of Michael Ignatieff in the ads.
A few points need to be made here. As stated above, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is a public asset; it is a crown corporation. Also, this has happened before. CBC and CPAC complained when pool footage was taken from the Liberal leadership contest in 2006 to make those “Not A Leader” ads. Those ads were approved for airing on television.
Fast forward to today. Speaking with senior Conservative staff, I’ve learned that the Telecaster ID for the ads has already been obtained meaning the ads have been cleared by the agency that approves Canadian advertising for Canadian television. But one doesn’t need to learn this from the party, the mere fact that the ads are airing indicates that they have been through the approval process.
Further to this, the ad which features Michael Ignatieff on C-SPAN had recycled content from an earlier round of Conservative advertising. C-SPAN has previously had and continues to have no problem with the airing of their footage in a political commercial. It seems somewhat troubling that an American television channel has a better grasp of “fair use/dealings” provisions of copyright — in the use of a meager few seconds of footage of a public figure, speaking on matters of public policy, in a public forum, as part of the larger public debate — than our national broadcaster.
Conservatives are already saying that this causes them to question the CBC’s partiality in this matter. Pair this with the broadcaster awarding of a polling contract to big time Liberal donor and adviser Frank Graves in an apparent twisting of the CBC’s own written guidelines and this only raises more questions about neutrality. Graves has donated disproportionately to the Liberals and advised the Grits to start a “culture war” in Canada. The CBC wrote at the time of the Frank Graves brouhaha,
“To meet our qualification and selection process (through a formal RFP), all of our polling firms were required to make a specific declaration that they were not affiliated with any political party, as this would have disqualified them. We have reviewed this important point with Mr. Graves and confirmed that no client relationship with the Liberal Party of Canada exists.”
Why does the CBC brass bend for Liberals but is overly rigid on Conservatives?