Information Commissioner Releases 2011-2012 Report Cards:
CBC/Radio-Canada's Access to Information Performance Remains Clearly
MONTREAL, QUEBEC -- (Marketwire) -- 12/06/12 -- Quebecor Media is
surprised that the Information Commissioner awarded CBC/Radio-Canada
an A rating for its performance on access to information. The Company
is critical of the Commissioner's decision to reward
CBC/Radio-Canada's relative improvement, based on self-defined,
vague, subjective criteria, instead of assessing its ability to
provide, expeditiously and in full, the information requested by
"It's as if a teacher gave a dunce an A for showing up in class more
often, even though he was still flunking his exams," said J. Serge
Sasseville, Senior Vice President, Corporate and Institutional
Affairs, Quebecor Media.
Quebecor Media fails to understand why the Commissioner granted
CBC/Radio-Canada a perfect grade when her own report makes numerous
criticisms of the Corporation, including:
-- There were 71 new complaints against CBC/Radio-Canada in 2011-2012,
including 55 complaints concerning refusal to disclose information;
-- 234 complaints about CBC/Radio-Canada have yet to be resolved;
-- The average time for processing requests was 36 days, 6 more than the
requirement under the Access to Information Act;
-- The Commissioner herself noted that CBC/Radio-Canada takes "an overly
technical approach to the application of the law";
-- During the period in question, the Federal Court of Appeal ruled against
CBC/Radio-Canada for trying to act as judge and jury on the access to
information requests it receives, causing complaints to be put on hold
for more than 3 years;
-- The Office of the Information Commissioner has recommended that
CBC/Radio-Canada allocate more staff to dealing with complaints and was
told that the Corporation would hire more people if necessary, and only
if budgetary pressures permit.
"Based on the facts noted in the Commissioner's own report,
CBC/Radio-Canada is hardly a model student," said Mr. Sasseville.
"The Commissioner's indulgent conclusions are not consistent with the
evidence of the Corporation's poor performance on access to
information, which has been brought before several bodies."
As recently as last week, Quebecor Media, on behalf of its Sun Media
Corporation, presented a very different picture of CBC/Radio-Canada's
performance to the CRTC.
On that occasion, Colonel Michel Drapeau, a recognized national
expert on access to information, explained that the improvement in
the Corporation's deemed refusal rate merely reflects its ability to
provide an acknowledgement of receipt within the statutory 30-day
limit and in no way indicates its ability to disclose the information
requested by the public promptly and transparently. It can still
claim extensions, exemptions, exclusions and exorbitant search fees
in order to prevent or significantly delay genuine disclosure of
informations, an area in which CBC/Radio-Canada is highly proficient.
"By making 'leadership' the main factor in the rating, the
Commissioner is confirming that her report cards are subjective
evaluations that can be affected by public relations campaigns such
as those waged by CBC/Radio-Canada and its President over the past
two years," said Mr. Sasseville. "As Canada's largest press group,
Quebecor Media believes that Canadians, who expect the access to
information system to guarantee that they can obtain information on
the government agencies that spend their money, would have preferred
to see the system's main watchdog provide an objective appraisal of
CBC/Radio-Canada's ability to provide that information, instead of an
assessment of its ability to lay on the charm. It is unfortunate that
the Information Commissioner should issue a report card that amounts
to a refusal to hold the public broadcaster to account, as every
public agency should be held accountable to the citizens."
About Quebecor Media Inc.
Quebecor Media Inc. is a subsidiary of Quebecor Inc. (TSX:QBR.A)
(TSX:QBR.B), one of Canada's most important holding company operating
in the telecommunications and media businesses. With more than 16,000
employees, Quebecor Media Inc., through its subsidiary Videotron
Ltd., is an integrated communications company engaged in cable
television, interactive multimedia development, Internet access
services, cable telephone services and mobile telephone services.
Through Sun Media Corporation, Quebecor Media Inc. is the largest
publisher of newspapers in Canada. It also operates Canoe.ca and its
network of English and French language Internet properties in Canada.
In the broadcasting sector, Quebecor Media Inc. operates, through TVA
Group Inc., the number one French language general interest
television network in Quebec, a number of specialty channels and the
SUN News English language channel. Another subsidiary of Quebecor
Media Inc., Nurun Inc., is a major interactive technologies and
communications agency with offices in Canada, the United States,
Europe and Asia. Quebecor Media Inc. is also active in magazine
publishing (TVA Publishing Inc.), book publishing and distribution
(Sogides Group Inc. and CEC Publishing Inc.), the production,
distribution and retailing of cultural products (Archambault Group
Inc. and TVA Films), video game development (BlooBuzz Studios, L.P.),
DVD, Blu-ray disc and videogame rental and retailing (Le SuperClub
Videotron Ltd), the printing and distribution of regional newspapers
and flyers (Quebecor Media Printing Inc. and Quebecor Media Network
Inc.), news content production and distribution (QMI Agency),
multiplatform advertising solutions (QMI Sales) and the publishing of
printed and online directories, through Quebecor MediaPages(TM).
Vice President, Public Affairs
Quebecor Media Inc.
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