Weekly News Roundup (June 23)

By: Brittany Green

Top Stories this Week

 Ottawa appoints Judith LaRocque as interim chair of CRTC ; A career public servant, LaRocque will step in for Jean-Pierre Blais, whose five-year term ended on Saturday (CRTC)

Ms. LaRocque will step in for Jean-Pierre Blais, whose five-year term as chairman of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission ended on Saturday. The federal Department of Canadian Heritage, which is responsible for naming the CRTC chair, began its search for a candidate in January and extended the deadline for applications twice, but still has not found a permanent replacement.

How Blais shook up telecom industry (CRTC)

Industry players may clash over the success of his policies and his leadership, but no one could accuse Jean-Pierre Blais of anything but a dogged pursuit of his agenda during his five years as chairman of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.

Liberal government tables bill to reform Access to Information (Access to Information Canada)

The Trudeau government plans to cap the spring sitting of Parliament with long-awaited legislation on Access to Information and national security — bills unlikely to be debated by MPs in a serious way until the fall.

CBC ordered probe into nepotism complaints (Access to Information Canada)

The CBC hired an external investigator to probe two top television executives after receiving complaints that at least 13 contracts were handed to production companies owned by their spouses. Although the investigator found no breaches of the public broadcaster’s conflict of interest policy, the legal counsel for one anonymous complainant said the findings are “inconsistent with the facts” and the contracts present the appearance of conflict of interest.

Canadian media have continued to uphold whiteness at work (CRTC) (Access to Information Canada)

Editorial: The institutional refusal by Canada’s media companies (with some exceptions) to deal with diversity, and its pesky twin, equity, in a transparent and accountable way is concerning. As journalists, we flock to cover gender-equal cabinets and to criticize “diversity is our strength” while rarely mentioning our own failures on race and gender. On matters of identity, representation and equity, we are hypocrites.

Top International News

Supreme Court Rejects Expansion of Government-Speech Doctrine In Tam Case (Freedom of Expression)

The Supreme Court’s unanimous decision in Matal v. Tam striking down the trademark non-disparagement requirement as unconstitutional is a big victory for the First Amendment. First, the Court strongly pushed back against the expansion of the government-speech doctrine, perhaps the biggest current threat to free speech jurisprudence. Second, the Court strengthened a position EFF has long advocated—that intellectual property rights and First Amendment rights must be balanced against each other rather than weighted in favor of the former.

On the mark: The Supreme Court says offensive trademarks are protected speech (Freedom of Expression)

“HATE speech”, activists on college campuses like to say, “is not free speech”. Ted Wheeler, the mayor of Portland, Oregon, made the point last month in reference to a man who uttered anti-Muslim slurs before killing two people who challenged him.

Reload: Another debate about net neutrality in America

An Attack on Net Neutrality Is an Attack on Free Speech (Freedom of Expression International)

Several US senators spoke out this week on the importance of net neutrality to innovation and free speech. They are right. The Internet has become our public square, our newspaper, our megaphone. The Federal Communications Commission is trying to turn it in something more akin to commercial cable TV, and we all have to work together to stop it.

Coal company sues HBO’s John Oliver for defamation (Defamation International)

Coal company Murray Energy has sued HBO and its Sunday-night host, John Oliver, for what it says was a “false and malicious broadcast” last Sunday evening. It’s seeking financial damages and a court order barring rebroadcasts of the segment’s “defamatory statements.”

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