CBC Election Coverage Flouts TV Blackout Rules

Canadian pubcaster breaks federal election embargo by reporting early results in Atlantic Canada before polls closed on the west coast.

TORONTO – Elections Canada knew that it could not stop ordinary Canadians reporting early federal election results Monday night on Twitter and other social media before polls closed nationwide.

But primetime broadcasters?

An apparent glitch had the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. flouting the country’s election blackout law by reporting results before a 10 p.m. EST, or 7 p.m. PST embargo time. 

The pubcaster issued a press release indicating it "experienced a technical error which resulted in early election results from Eastern Canada being broadcast on CBC News Network." 

We’re not just talking results posted along the TV set scroll bar.

Promptly at 9 p.m. EST, while polls on the west coast were still open, CBC anchors Peter Mansbridge and Wendy Mesley starting blurting out poll results in Atlantic Canada, and even interviewed an elected candidate. 

By 9:05 p.m., when the CBC realized it jumped the gun, the pubcaster’s screen displayed the freeze frame: Sorry, we’re experiencing technical difficulties’ message. Please stay tuned.” 

Within minutes, normal election coverage resumed, this time without early results.  

Elections Canada, an independent body that runs federal elections, investigates broacasters, traditional and online that breach its rules responds to complaints.