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CBC bars on-air journalists from getting paid for appearances

CBC/Radio-Canada says it will no longer approve paid appearances by its on-air journalistic employees, following allegations of potential conflict of interest over speaking engagements.

Paid appearances nixed after media reports suggested potential conflict of interest

CBC/Radio-Canada says it will no longer approve paid appearances by its on-air journalistic employees. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

CBC/Radio-Canada says it will no longer approve paid appearances by its on-air journalistic employees, following allegations of potential conflict of interest over speaking engagements.

Jennifer McGuire, editor in chief and general manager of CBC News and its regional centres, and Michel Cormier, executive director for news and current affairs at French services, announced the ban in a note released Thursday.

"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," they said.

"​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."

CBC said it will continue to disclose all public appearances by its journalists on a website.

The change will not affect CBC freelance contributors, such as Rex Murphy.

The policy shift comes following media reports that suggested paid appearances by CBC business correspondent Amanda Lang had come into play on internal discussions on a story by another CBC reporter, Kathy Tomlinson, about RBC's use of foreign workers. McGuire addressed those allegations in a blog item posted Jan. 12 in which she defended Lang.

"There was rigorous debate but there was no 'sabotage,' and the notion that 'Lang's efforts to scuttle the story were successful, at first' is categorically untrue​," McGuire said in that post.

The Canadian Media Guild, which represents editorial employees at CBC, objected to what it called a "blanket prohibition" on paid speeches.

"We believe an arbitrary ban will not protect CBC from conflict of interest," the union said in a statement, arguing that each case, paid or unpaid, should be examined on its own merits.

CMG called the policy change a unilateral move by CBC, and said the collective agreement includes a provision that recognizes on-air employees must discuss outside activities with their supervisors before engaging in them, and that CBC has 10 days to make a decision.

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