CRTC clears journalists for censor board

Half of participants will be private broadcaster employees

TORONTO -- As a check to Big Media in Canada, broadcast journalists are getting set to join their industry's censor board.

The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission on Tuesday signed off on an amendment to the Journalistic Independence Code that will allow journalists to join the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council, an industry body that referees public complaints about radio and TV shows aired by private broadcasters.

Previously, the CRTC allowed private broadcasters to police their own news departments. Now, appointed journalists will join CBSC adjudication panels that issue rulings on viewer complaints after broadcasts.

The change to the Journalistic Independence Code follows recent industry consolidation that centralized control of the nation's newsroom into the hands of fewer broadcasters, including CTVglobemedia and Canwest Global Communications.

The CBSC panels do not censor, or pre-approve, programming before it goes to air.

The CRTC said that half of the participants on CBSC panels will be employees of private broadcasters, a move that "ensures that journalistic expertise and perspective is provided when adjudicating complaints."