CBC’s Twitter drama: ‘Media needs to stand their ground’ to ‘What’s the fuss?’ - Canadians divided on news label controversy

Canadian government officials and members of the public issue strong reaction to CBC being labelled as 'government-funded media'

Twitter CEO Elon Musk has once again changed Canadian public broadcaster CBC's Twitter designation in an update Tuesday morning following a strong reaction from Canadian politicians and members of the public.

The updated designation that now appears on CBC's main Twitter page reads "69% Government-funded media."

CBC/Radio-Canada announced on Monday they are pausing all activities on its corporate and news Twitter accounts after being stamped with a "government-funded media" label by the social media platform Sunday evening.

"Our journalism is impartial and independent. To suggest otherwise is untrue. That is why we are pausing our activities on @Twitter," the news organization wrote in a tweet posted Monday afternoon.

CBC Twitter page now labeled as
CBC Twitter page now labeled as "Government-funded Media" by social media organization

The Canadian public broadcaster now joins American media organizations National Public Radio (NPR) and PBS NewsHour in suspending Twitter usage after the social platform announced changes aimed at accounts heavily engaged in geopolitics and diplomacy.

SpaceX and Tesla billionaire and more recently, Twitter's owner Elon Musk quoted the definition of state-affiliated media in the company’s guidelines as “outlets where the state exercises control over editorial content through financial resources, direct or indirect political pressures, and/or control over production and distribution.”

While the CBC is a Crown corporation — defined as being wholly-owned federal or provincial organizations structured like independent organizations — a statement released by the news organization says they operate "at arms length from the government."

"We are independent of all lobbies and of all political and economic influence... Public interest guides all our decisions," the statement reads.

CBC reported government funding totalling $1.24 billion during its 2021-22 annual report.

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre reacted to the label being implemented by tweeting "CBC officially exposed as 'Government-funded media.' Now people know that it is Trudeau propaganda, not news."

Poilievre had previously made calls on Twitter's CEO to add the "government-funded" label to accounts that promoted "news-related content from CBC.

This resulted in a strongly-worded response from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a press briefing Monday morning, calling Poilievre's actions an "attack" on a Canadian institution.

Canadians divided on Twitter's CBC label

Many Canadians issued strong reactions on social media in response to Twitter slapping CBC with a Government-funded Media label.

One user pointed to a previously-published press-release by the Canadian Liberal party, in which they pledged $675 million in funding to revitalize the broadcasting organization.

Other responses suggest that members of the public themselves had tagged Twitter's CEO and requested CBC receive the Government-funded designation.

One user pointed out why CBC was the only Canadian news organization to receive the designation when publications such as Maclean’s, select Postmedia and Blackpress papers and the Walrus received funding through the federal Local Journalism Initiative during 2021-22 totalling $50 million.

Opposingly, others chimed in saying their personal rights to make informed news decisions are being denied in the shuffle.

Some questioned CBC's actions to temporarily halt their usage of the social platform saying that this is a time independent media to stand their ground and stand firm in their established credibility.

CBC News Editor in Chief Brodie Fenlon stands firm on temporarily halting the use of CBC News accounts on Twitter, saying the move is "necessary."

"It is important to take a moment to assess what Twitter has done. That is why we have pressed pause today on our accounts," Fenlon said.