PRESS RELEASE: CBC Should Change Online Comment Policy
Fox Creek, AB - July 10th
Members of the Pirate Party of Canada recently examined the CBC.ca comment policy as it is applied in practice. While the comment policy itself  strikes a good balance between encouraging dialogue about current events and protecting vulnerable individuals featured in their stories, the policy’s implementation appears at times to be inconsistent.
The policy states that commenting is disabled if “comments may cause harm”. Examples of this type of situation include death of individuals and kidnappings (one would assume any crime in progress as well). Commenting is also disabled if comments might risk breaking the law such as with publication bans or names related to sexual assault. However, an examination of national and regional stories shows that there are a large number of cases that don’t obviously fall under either category . In the case of the stories regarding hurricane Arthur some were open to comments while others were closed. These incidents would seem to indicate there are other criteria considered.
This is important as whether the CBC likes it or not its continued existence is a political issue. It must endeavour to appear as unbiased as possible. When commenting is disabled on stories relevant to the public interest, especially political stories, it fuels the belief that the CBC has a political agenda.
“I have heard quite a number of people complain about particular stories being closed to comments. Many times the stories are about a contentious economic or political issue. So I can see how some might take a ban on comments for, say, a pipeline story to be an attempt to dull opposition”, says James Wilson, Leader of the Pirate Party of Canada. “Personally I don’t think the CBC.ca news staff has a bias. However, its not about whether a bias exists but whether their actions create an appearance of bias. This could be just as damaging to the ability of the CBC to do its job as any actual bias”. The Pirate Party advocates three small changes to improve the situation: 1. All stories where comments are disabled should include a rationale for disabling them. 2. Multiple stories with very similar subject matter should include a link to the thread that is open, if there is one. 3. Updating the comment policy to better reflect how it is actually applied.
The Pirate Party of Canada is a federal political party focused on thoughtful information policy reform, genuine democracy, civil liberties, and the freedom of the Internet. You can find out more online at www.pirateparty.ca .
 Information on CBC.ca comment policy:
 A selection of CBC articles that had no comment section at the time of writing:
-NSA, FBI spied on U.S. Muslim leaders after 9/11: report
-EI report ‘step in the right direction’ says Premier Ghiz
-Stompin’ Tom Connors property being purchased
-Morgentaler clinic could be leased through crowdsourcing
-138 protected natural areas to be created, 21 expanded
-Jetlines CEO Dave Solloway pitches new low-cost airline
-Maritimes and Northeast Pipeline capacity to be expanded
-MUNSU unsurprised by report on plight of foreign students
-Cancelled Stanfest gets support, donations Canada-wide
-New Sydney businesses touted as key for rail line
-Aquaculture guidelines need overhaul: panel
-Trans-Pacific Partnership talks going on in Ottawa