BUSINESS

CBC Bans Paid Appearances By On-Air Journalists

01/22/2015 06:20 EST | Updated 01/23/2015 10:59 EST

CBC is barring all on-air journalists from doing paid appearances in the wake of a scandal concerning host Amanda Lang's ties to big business.

CBC Radio's Matt Galloway broke the news on Twitter.

The following memo was sent to CBC staff on Thursday and was shared online by former foreign correspondent Frank Koller.

CBC/Radio-Canada holds itself to the highest standards of journalistic integrity. Our standards and practices are among the most rigorous in Canadian media.

However, a changing environment in which the public expects more transparency from institutions and the media is making the practice of paid outside activities for our journalists less acceptable to audiences.

At CBC/Radio-Canada, any on air journalist who wishes to accept an invitation to speak, to moderate debates or to take part in other public appearance must make sure that the activity does not represent any real or perceived conflict of interest. He or she must also get permission from his or her supervisor to do so.

Given that paid appearances can create an adverse impact on the Corporation, CBC/Radio-Canada will no longer approve paid appearances by its on-air journalistic employees. In order to further our commitment to transparency, we will continue to disclose all appearances on our websites.

We are fiercely proud of our content and our people. We believe this approach will allow us to remain focused on our primary goal of delivering quality journalism to all Canadians.

Jennifer McGuire, General Manager and Editor in Chief, CBC News and Centres

​​Michel Cormier, Executive Director, News and Current Affairs, French Services

In an editorial for the Globe and Mail, “The Exchange” host applauded the new change, saying she would “no longer accept paid appearances.”

Lang explained in retrospect, she acknowledges she should have been upfront with her colleagues about her romantic relationship with Royal Bank of Canada board member Geoffrey Beattie.

“... in my mind, it was then a private matter. When it became more serious and more public, I disclosed to my producers in order to manager any issues around stories we were covering,” she wrote.

Last week, media criticism website CANADALAND reported Lang tried to “sabotage” a story on RBC’s treatment of temporary foreign workers.

The claim triggered speculation about a possible conflict of interest after it was also revealed she was paid by RBC to speak at bank-sponsored events. Details about Lang’s personal life, specifically her relationship with Beattie, were also disclosed.

In an interview with The Toronto Star, Lang denied the allegation she tried to “kill the story,” adding she “received no money from RBC; that is not in dispute”

“To say otherwise is an outright falsehood,” she said.

The change follows renewed controversy after a series of scandals involving some of the public broadcaster’s top journalists.

Earlier, Lang’s reputation as a reporter was subject to scrutiny after CANADALAND reported she accepted money from insurance company Manulife for two speaking events in July and August.

The website criticized Lang for not disclosing the paid engagements during an TV interview with Manulife president Donald Guloien in September.

Chief news anchor Peter Mansbridge and pundit Rex Murphy also found themselves at the centre of their own controversies after accepting fees to deliver speeches at oil industry events.

CBC’s ombudsman Ester Enkin defended Mansbridge at the time, saying he did nothing wrong.

She also urged management to address its protocols for speaking fees and the conflict-of-interest perception they may cast on the broadcaster if they are accepted by employees and freelancers.

On Thursday, the CBC confirmed its new rules will not apply to freelancers.

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