Tuesday, August 31, 2004

In the "It Could Be Worse" Department


Yesterday I attacked FCC commissioner Michael Copps, in particular, and the federal government, in general, for paternalistically and unnecessarily regulating the airwaves. Thanks to a tip from the proprietor of Occam's Carbuncle, a Canadian blog, I've learned how much worse it is in Canada. As he says:
Copps would feel right at home in Canada, where our FCC equivalent, the CRTC, routinely sticks its nose in where it doesn't belong. One of our better blogs, Trudeaupia, has been all over this issue.
(CRTC stands for Canadian Radio-television Communications Commission or, in French, Conseil de la radiodiffusion et des télécommunications canadiennes.) Anyway, here's the issue, in the words of CRTC:
In a decision issued today,...CRTC...denies the application...for the renewal of the broadcasting licence for the French-language commercial radio station CHOI-FM Québec....

The Commission considered that offensive comments made by the hosts over the station’s airwaves tended or were likely to expose individuals or groups of individuals to hatred or contempt on the basis of mental disability, race, ethnic origin, religion, colour or sex. The Commission also considered, among other things, that the station’s hosts were relentless in their use of the public airwaves to insult and ridicule people....
According to CBC Montreal, reporting on August 26:
A federal court has made it official—CHOI-FM can continue broadcasting after its licence expires at the end of this month.

The controversial radio station has reached an agreement with the CRTC to keep broadcasting until a final decision comes down about the fate of the station....
Trudeaupia is skeptical: "Or is this just a delaying action until the protest dies down, then they'll abruptly close it?"

So, it could be worse here in the U.S. of A. First, we could have to say everything twice: once in English, again in French. Second, we could have to put up with limitations on freedom of speech that dwarf the infamy of McCain-Feingold.

How could I forget that other bastion of freedom in the English-speaking world, our "mother country"? Well, here's Eugene Volokh at The Volokh Conspiracy to remind me (quoting from Bloomberg.com):
Ford Motor Co., the world's second biggest carmaker, has had a television commercial for its Land Rover brand banned by the U.K. communications regulator after it was judged to "normalize" the use of guns.

The advertisement, which featured a woman brandishing a gun later revealed to be a starting pistol, breached the Advertising Standards Code and must not be shown again, Ofcom said in an e-mailed statement. The regulator received 348 complaints against the ad, many concerned that the commercial glamorized guns and made it "appear that guns are fun and cool."...

Ofcom said glamorization is "part and parcel" of the advertising process but this commercial "normalized" gun ownership in a domestic setting. The pistol, fired by the woman into the air as a man got into his car, was used in "an apparent casual manner and just for fun," Ofcom said....
George Orwell, wherever you are, call home.