TORONTO, April 29 /CNW/ - RTNDA Canada - The Association of Electronic
Journalists and RTDNA - The Radio Television Digital News Association
vehemently opposes Section 329 of the Canada Elections Act, which
prohibits transmission of election results to the public in a district
where polling stations are still open.
The law was initially intended to curb national media outlets from
"prematurely transmitting" electoral results across time zones,
theoretically preventing election results in Eastern Canada from
influencing voters in the West, despite a lack of evidence suggesting
that has ever been the case. The stakes are raised a bit more now with
social media's emergence as a primary reporting tool. As it stands now,
if a media organization or individual tweets about or Facebook comments
about Canada's election results prematurely, a law has been broken with
the offender subject to a maximum fine of $25,000, or up to five years
"Social media is emerging as a critical tool spawning new hopes for
democracy in northern Africa and the Middle East. We should not see it
going the other way in Canada," said RTNDA Canada president Andy
LeBlanc. "The Canadian news media has long been prevented from
broadcasting election results to places where the ballots are still
open. That didn't stop people from calling friends and relatives on the
other side of the country to discuss ongoing election results. Millions
of Canadians using Twitter and Facebook should not risk persecution for
participating in an unfolding democratic process, the kind of political
engagement people in other parts of the world are dying to achieve."
"We're living in a breaking news, digital world," said RTDNA Chairman
Mark Kraham. "News consumers expect - and are entitled to - the most
up-to-date, comprehensive information available, especially when it
comes to electing a nation's leaders. This law is archaic and
condescending to voters and should be revised as soon as possible."
"RTDNA strongly advocates ethical and responsible elections
Kraham continued. "Information about election results
should be delivered after a strong confirmation process ensuring that
voters are given accurate information."
Canada holds its federal elections next Monday, May 2nd.
In a report by the Montreal Gazette, John Enright, who speaks for
Elections Canada, said his agency has no choice but to administer the
law as written. Citizens are allowed to phone or text friends, or send
private e-mails. But posting to a Facebook wall, to a webpage or to
Twitter will be considered a violation.
"The legislation is still on the books, so our role as Elections Canada
is to administer the legislation that is before us," said Enright, in
the Montreal Gazette report. "If there's a breach of the law, Elections
Canada is not going to discriminate between the Mothercorp and Joe
Smith down the street."
About RTNDA Canada and RTDNA
RTDNA is the world's largest professional organization devoted
exclusively to electronic journalism. RTDNA represents local and
network news professionals in broadcasting, cable and other digital
media in more than 30 countries.
RTNDA Canada is the voice of electronic journalists and news managers in
Canada. The members of RTNDA Canada recognize the responsibility of
broadcast journalists to promote and to protect the freedom to report
independently about matters of public interest and to present a wide
range of expressions, opinions and ideas. The RTNDA Canada Code of
Ethics, adopted by the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council, is used to
measure fairness and accuracy in the profession.
SOURCE RTNDA Canada
For further information:
RTNDA Canada President Andy LeBlanc firstname.lastname@example.org. Or RTDNA Ryan Murphy, email@example.com