The trustworthiness of CTV's flagship public affairs program, W5, has been called into question in a Complaint lodged with the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) by the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada.
The Complaint concerns CTV's coverage of grants to combat racism by the World Council of Churches and the Anglican Church's contribution to those grants. The segment, entitled "A House Divided," was broadcast by W5 on October 29th.
The Complaint charges that there was a strong personal bias on the part of the reporter, Henry Champ, that critical spokesmen were unrepresentative of the views of church members and that manipulative film selection and editing techniques were used.
In a 20-page document (which included a complete transcript) signed by Archdeacon E.S. Light, General Secretary of the General Synod, the Complaint cites five major errors of fact and says the segment gave biased and distorted impressions which few in the audience would have the knowledge to challenge. It says an open, public hearing at which the videotape of the segment could be shown should be ordered by the CRTC.
"The fact that the Broadcasting Act requires the broadcasting system as a whole to provide balance in matters of public concern does not relieve the individual licencee of its obligation to approach controversial issues carefully, fairly and professionally," it states.
"If these criteria are not adhered to by each broadcaster, then the Act can do nothing to ensure for Canadians the trustworthiness of their broadcast journalism," it states.
The program segment dealt with grants made for humanitarian purposes by the Special Fund to Combat Racism of the World Council of Churches to African movements, particularly to Zimbabwe Patriotic Front. It included interviews with Archbishop E.W. Scott, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada and moderator of the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches, and persons critical of the grants.
The Complaint also carries the signatures of 15 other church officials from United, Presbyterian, Lutheran and Roman Catholic Churches or their organizations, supporting the contents of the brief and its request for a special public hearing.
In addition, the Anglican House of Bishops last week passed a motion unanimously supporting Archbishop Scott in his leadership of the church and in his role as moderator of the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches. It said it regrets the distortion by some media of his position on the Program to Combat Racism of the World Council of Churches.
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For further information:
Rev. William E. Lowe
Director of Communication
Anglican Church of Canada
Office: 924-9192 ext. 252
Turner and Barrett
Barristers and Solicitors
On October 29th, 1978, at 10 p.m., the CTV Television Network aired, on its program W5, a 13-minute segment entitled "A House Divided."
The reporter was Henry Champ; the producer, Ian McLeod.
The documentary segment dealt with contributions by the Primate's World Relief and Development Fund of the Anglican Church of Canada to the World Council of Churches' Programme to Combat Racism.
Donations to the Primate's Fund are made specifically by individuals, both directly and through their parishes, as the result of a special appeal for that purpose. Money does not come from general weekly revenues. The Fund is administered by a board comprised of clergy and laity, chaired by the Primate, Archbishop Edward Scott.
The Programme to Combat Racism of the World Council of Churches receives funds for its grants directly and specifically from member churches (including the Anglican Church of Canada) and others who wish to participate in the Programme. Participation is purely voluntary. Among contributors are the governments of Sweden, Holland and Norway.
In 1978, the Special Fund of the Programme disbursed grants in the amount of $434,500 to twenty-nine agencies throughout the world, including two Canadian native groups.
The grant at issue in the W5 segment was for $85,000 for food, medicine, clothing and other humanitarian needs of over 100,000 Rhodesian refugees in camps operated by the Patriotic Front in Mozambique and Zambia. The Programme's contribution was a very small part of the multi-million dollar budget for the operation of these camps. The Programme is, in essence, a partner with other humanitarian agencies such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Calculated on an annual basis, less than one-quarter of one percent (approximately $2500) of the total Primate's Fund went to aid these refugees.
That when the report on the Canadian Interfaith Network has been received and questions addressed to the Committee, the House move into "in camera" to discuss the report. CARRIED #5-10-84
N.B. In camera minutes NOT included in electronic database.
The Rev. W. Lowe introduced the Rev. David MacDonald, president-Elect of the Canadian Interfaith Television Network, Dr. David Nostbakken, who has special responsibility for production and animation and the Rev. Canon Ebert Hobbs who has been involved in funding and development.
Mr. Lowe said that the two to three day hearing is to be held before the C.R.T.C. in November in Hull, Quebec. He reported that data revealed in the public hearing would be reviewed, and if approved, the licence will be issued in January or February of 1985.
Mr. MacDonald said that a free, no-pay television licence has been applied for. He stressed that a key question is the situation with the Roman Catholic Church whose real problem is both size and the Anglophone/Francophone division, further complicated by the fact that the Roman Catholic Church has had no personnel for communications for the past several years. He reported that the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops said that they felt it would not be appropriate for them to become further involved, as a Conference of Bishops, but would encourage regional participation.
Canon Hobbs reviewed financial statements which were distributed, for information. He reported that a Feasibility Study is now being conducted by Community Charitable Counselling Service and that their report will be part of the public document which is available at the Hearing. Among the questions and concerns raised by the Bishops were the following:
- What is the potential viewing audience ?
- What are the financial implications ?
- It was recognized that neo-religious groups will be given air time as well.
Dr. Nostbakken spoke regarding the Children's Broadcasting Institute. He said that research reveals that there is a large concern on the part of parents and teachers regarding the quality of programs which reach children. He stated that television has become a way of life for children and that, by the time they have graduated from high school, they have watched on an average of 15,000 hours of television. This has a great influence on their beliefs and attitudes.
Concern was expressed regarding production costs. Mr. MacDonald expressed the opinion that the C.R.T.C. will accept the Canadian Interfaith Network application, and Mr. Lowe added that the C.R.T.C. is concerned that the coalition of religious communities stay together in this endeavour.
Archbishop Scott reminded the Bishops that there is to be a meeting at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, 6th November regarding the Canadian Interfaith Network, and enquired as to the possibility of any of the Bishops being present at that meeting. Unfortunately, all of the Bishops indicated that other commitments made attendance at that meeting impossible.
The Primate shared a letter which had been sent to the Rev. David MacDonald from the Jesuits in which they expressed enthusiastic support and indicated that financial support would be available for the Canadian Interfaith Network. The Jesuits indicated in their letter that they would encourage other Roman Catholic groups to give their support to the project.
The Rev. W.E. Lowe introduced members of the Rosewell Group as follows: The Hon. David MacDonald, Mr. Douglas Barrett and the Rev. D. McCalmont. Mr. Peter Flemington sent his regrets.
During the discussion which followed, questions were raised by the Bishops and responded to by the representatives of the Rosewell Group.
Mr. Lowe expressed the appreciation of the representatives of the Rosewell Group for the opportunity to be present and address the House, and said that he hoped that this would be of some assistance to the Bishops as they made their decisions.
Archbishop Scott thanked the members of the Rosewell Group for their generous contribution of time and expertise.
That this House of Bishops support the proposal being brought forth by the Rosewell Group and commend it to the National Executive Council for favourable consideration. CARRIED #3-11-83
That this National Executive Council draw to the attention of the Dioceses the working paper of September 24th 1981 of the Inter-Church Committee respecting the January 26th 1982 hearing of the CRTC and urge response by December 5, 1981 to the Rev. W.E. Lowe. CARRIED
1. Approve the "Canadian Interfaith Communications Network" proposal as a basis for Anglican membership in an Interfaith Consortium, with the proviso that The Anglican Church of Canada reserve the right to re-examine its position following consideration by the Canadian Radio & Television Corporation when financial implications and the ultimate participants are more readily apparent.
2. Authorize Interchurch Communications to act on its behalf in relating to the Rosewell Group and in the development of an Interfaith Consortium for the purposes of applying to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) for a licence to broadcast satellite to cable.
3. Approve budget estimates for licence application to the CRTC and authorize expenditures up to $75,000 from Anglicans in Mission overage (see National Case) to cover costs from January 1, 1984 to the time of a public hearing by the CRTC, May/June 1984. It is understood that, as other faith communities take up support and membership, Anglican funding will be reduced. CARRIED
The Primate requested Archbishop Somerville to take the Chair, and sought persmission to absent himself from the meeting.
"That this House of Bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada wholeheartedly supports our Primate, Archbishop Edward Scott, in his leadership of our Church and in his role of Moderator of the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches, and deeply regrets the distortion by some of the media of his position on the World Council of Churches' 'Program to Combat Racism.'" CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
Moved by: The Rt. Rev. H.V.R. Short
Seconded by: The Rt. Rev. D. Hambidge
"That this House supports the action of the General Secretary in this complaint." CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
Bishop Garnsworthy expressed concern about the second last paragraph on page eight of the Brief. Concern was also expressed about the name of the Anglican Church of Canada appearing on the front page and in the final paragraph of the Brief. After discussion, it was moved.
"That the complaint be issued in the name of the Communications Division of the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada, that paragraphs four and five on page eight be omitted and that the final paragraph of the Brief be amended to conform to the new title." CARRIED
Moved by: Bishop F. Berry
Seconded by: Bishop D. Hambidge
"That the complaint, as amended by the House, be supported by the House of Bishops.
Moved by: Bishop M. Goodman
Seconded by: Bishop J. Bothwell
"That the above motion be tabled." CARRIED
Moved by: Bishop F.R. Gartrell
Seconded by: Bishop H.V.R. Short
"That our Press Officer, the Rev. R. Berryman, be requested to issue a press release dealing with our meeting." CARRIED
a) reaffirms its commitment to use television as an important medium of communicating the Gospel;
b) will inform the C.R.T.C. that we are no longer co-sponsors of the pending application for a license for a separate religious channel; and
c) request the Program Committee to explore alternative ways of utilizing modern technology in achieving the goal of communicating the Gospel including the use of video cassettes, mainline television, community cable channels, etc.
That the motion be now put. CARRIED IN ALL ORDERS
The motion was put and CARRIED IN ALL ORDERS Act 37