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OTTAWA — The Opposition Conservatives are asking Twitter to apply a "government-funded" label on accounts associated with the CBC, even as other broadcasters decry the tag for not making clear their editorial independence.

On Tuesday, Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre tweeted a copy of a letter addressed to the company making the request.

In the letter, Poilievre asked that the label be applied to CBC's English "news-related" accounts. But he did not mention Radio-Canada, the broadcaster's French-language arm.

The social-media giant currently defines "government-funded" media as outlets that "may have varying degrees of government involvement over editorial content."

Poilievre said he believes that applies to CBC.

But CBC said in a statement on Wednesday that is "clearly not the case," adding that it cannot comment on the motives behind Poilievre's letter.

"As every Canadian knows, CBC/Radio-Canada is publicly funded. Its editorial independence is protected in law in the Broadcasting Act," a spokesperson for the broadcaster said.

Twitter added the descriptor to BBC and National Public Radio accounts last week after initially labelling them as "state-affiliated" — a term usually reserved for government-run propaganda outlets in countries such as Russia and China.

Twitter changed BBC's "government-funded" label to "publicly funded" on Wednesday, the third change in a week.

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre tweeted a copy of a letter addressed to the company making the request.

Elon Musk, who owns the platform, had promised the shift in approach during an interview with BBC on Twitter Spaces on Tuesday.

Musk said that if Twitter used "the same words that the BBC uses to describe itself, that presumably would be OK," and that he respects the broadcaster, which is funded by the British public through a licensing fee.

FRIENDS, a public broadcasting advocacy group, said that Poilievre would turn to Musk's Twitter to "protect Canadians against disinformation" is a "laughable" idea.

"What's not funny is that the person running to be the leader of one of the most democratic countries in the world has zero qualms about comparing CBC/Radio-Canada to the likes of Russia's Sputnik TV," said Marla Boltman, the group's executive director, in a statement.

"These tactics are irresponsible, dangerous and undermine the democracy that public institutions like CBC/Radio Canada are desperately trying to uphold."

NPR announced Wednesday that it would quit using Twitter after its accounts were inaccurately labelled. The United States public radio outfit said its credibility was being undermined by the platform "falsely implying that we are not editorially independent."

NPR does receive U.S. government funding through grants from federal agencies and departments, along with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. But the company said that accounts for less than one per cent of NPR's annual operating budget.

"We are not putting our journalism on platforms that have demonstrated an interest in undermining our credibility and the public's understanding of our editorial independence," a spokesperson for NPR said Wednesday in a statement.

"We are turning away from Twitter but not from our audiences and communities. There are plenty of ways to stay connected and keep up with NPR's news, music and cultural content."

It's the first major news outlet to make such a decision following Musk's takeover of Twitter last year, with the social media company facing new scrutiny over how it filters out the spread of false information.

The platform also recently stripped the New York Times of its verification check mark, with the newspaper saying it would not pay a monthly fee to maintain it.

CBC said it hasn't made a decision yet on whether it will continue to use Twitter if the company decides to label it as "government-funded," saying it cannot comment on hypotheticals.

In 2021-22, the CBC received more than $1.2 billion in government funding, a decrease from about $1.4 billion in 2020-21.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 12, 2023.

— With files from the Associated Press.

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Will Saudi government owned Twitter take action on Pierre's request? Will they also label Pierre's posts as government funded?

I wonder how many shady political types have donated to Stephen Harper's International Democrat Union, a group which promotes authoritarian governments like Victor Orban in Hungary, Bolsonaro in Brazil, Putin in Russia and Modi in India, to name a few.

Stephen Harper's IDU should be labeled a global terrorist organization. Pierre Poilievre is just another Harper puppet waiting the bring the same authoritarian style government to Canada.

oh boy Pierre, what a desperate, flailing, publicity seeking carnival barker won't say for some attention. be it the carbon tax or the CBC, your propensity to boorishly slag what you don't understand in order to gin up your base is becoming quite wearying for those of us who will never vote for you in several million fossil fuel years.

Pierre Poilievre is a real piece of work and a hypocrite and I don't see him wanting the same label for his "government-funded" propaganda accounts on Twitter or any other of his propaganda social media accounts. He only has an axe to grind with CBC not because they are a publicly funded entity, but because the CBC isn't under the control of the right-wing Rupert Murdoch enterprises bent on bashing the other parties. The CBC will challenge the conservative leader like any other leader on issues. Pierre would rather live in his own bubble and dislikes the media in general like Trump, sound familiar?

Under a conservative government, women, minorities, LGBTQ and the younger generation have a lot to worry about with a party that wants to take away your current rights and privileges. It is pretty clear where they stand when these topics are raised and only met with silence and deflection. The republican party to the south is a clear indication where conservatives want to take the world, back to the stone age once again.

Saw a clip from the interview with Musk on BBC yesterday (the whole thing is on the website), but it was enough to both expose the right's naked grab for power, Musk's clear political affiliation with these libertarian idiots, and therefore his own intellectual limitations. He put forward the usual, current "freedom of speech" BS and professed indifference on the topic of whether or not Trump would return to Twitter because it's a platform for whomever after all (ignoring his removal of the New York Times "verification" tag, for one.)
And somehow he thought he was nailing the BBC guy when he said, "so who is the arbiter of free speech; is it the BBC?" And the BBC guy said, "well no, it's YOU."

NPR is the gold standard here; they're also the ones who stopped covering Trump, but the BBC also has a better model than the CBC.
The fact that they're even debating about staying on Twitter under the circumstances indicates conservative capture. Loathing and fury emoji here....

Whew! Agent provocateur P. Poilievre certainly roused the CNO troops with his trademark "letter" to Twitter.

As a dedicated non-user of social media platforms I suppose I have no "right" to criticize or call out either of the poseurs, Musk and P.P. Given my age and accumulated opinions I will nevertheless suggest that neither critter is a genuine human with the appropriate range of intellect and emotional intelligence. Instead, as is the case with far too many politicians and "taste makers" they equate both likes and dislikes as evidence of their relevance to the body politic. These parasitic consumers of attention have yet to make a reasonable, probative contribution to the well being of life on earth and until they do deafening silence is the only viable response.

This afternoon, P.P. held a press conference on crime from Edmonton and then took about 7 questions. Two of the journalists, couldn't even finish asking their questions before he rudely interrupted them in order to grab back control of his shaky narrative. Three things occurred to me. First is that somebody is going to have to start publishing the transcripts of P.P.'s press events and provide an accompanying fact check, because like Trump he sure can spin and misrepresent with the best of them. Second is that if the CBC at any point going forward gives him any unfavourable reporting, he can and likely will dismiss it as sour grapes re his letter to Musk. Third, if the CBC, as he alleges is a Liberal propaganda network, it sure was generous of them to carry P.P.'s roughly thirty minute anti-Trudeau coalition government diatribe (commercial free) and with only very polite and gentle "push back" on just one point.