Brock University professor Blayne Haggart thinks the CBC has lost its integrity.The Olympics usually tend to bring out some unusual viewpoints, and one of those was expressed in The Globe and Mail Tuesday. The paper ran a guest column from Blayne Haggart arguing that the CBC, Canada's official Olympic broadcaster this time around, has sacrificed its journalistic integrity in the name of the Games. Haggart, an assistant professor of political science at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario, then goes on to argue that the Olympics are a "corrupting exercise" because they've been held in countries with oppressive regimes, that "we don’t need the Olympics to celebrate sports," and that at the Games, "every athletic triumph is inextricably linked to the suffering of the powerless," problematic arguments all around. It's his argument as to why the CBC's corrupt that's the most hilarious and ludicrous, though. What's their crime? They agreed to IOC regulations that prevent CBC radio coverage from being heard outside Canada during the Olympics:
The CBC has effectively turned over decisions about how its news and entire Radio 1 network will be distributed to the International Olympic Committee, which controls the rights to the Olympics.
This move casts a shadow over all of the CBC’s Olympics reporting. If they’re willing to allow the IOC such control, how do we know they’re not also toning down reports of dog slaughters, worker deaths (over 60 to date, according to the Building and Wood Worker’s International union) and human-rights violations to keep people focused on the aforementioned luge competition. Even worse, it suggests that there’s little the CBC won’t do for the right payday.
If any other group on the planet had tried this trick, the CBC’s bright lights would’ve (rightly) huffed about “journalistic integrity” and “the importance of independent media.” Canadians’ trust in the CBC’s journalism is possibly its most valuable asset, particularly since they’ve just lost their Hockey Night in Canada cash cow.
Instead, they’ve cashed it in because, Olympics.
It's a good thing Haggart is a political science professor and not a journalism one (although his Brock biography describes him as "an economist and journalist in his past lives"), because he shows remarkably little understanding of the divide between distribution/business decisions and content decisions. Geoblocking, or restricting content based on a listener's location, certainly has its problems, but it's awfully hard to argue that agreeing to only broadcast content in your country as part of an Olympic broadcasting contract (presumably to protect the value of rights in other countries) affects your organization's journalistic integrity. That's a business decision, pure and simple, and the CBC (and presumably other media organizations in other countries) had to agree to it in order to get Olympic rights. Moreover, what exactly is CBC sacrificing on the journalistic front by only broadcasting certain content in Canada? There's no reason that should affect their journalistic coverage, and no evidence that it has.Read More »from Globe and Mail guest columnist argues CBC has “corrupted itself”—by agreeing to IOC geoblocking restrictions?