Mandate

Principles

CBC-Radio-Canada is fully committed to maintaining accuracy, integrity, balance, impartiality and fairness in its journalism, as expressed in its unique code of ethics and practice, the Journalistic Standards and Practices. Our journalistic mission is to inform, to reveal, to contribute to the understanding of issues of public interest and to encourage citizens to participate in our free and democratic society. We base our credibility on fulfilling that mission through adherence to the values, principles and practices laid out in the Journalistic Standards and Practices.

The Ombudsperson is completely independent of CBC program staff and management, reporting directly to the President of CBC and, through the President, to the Corporation's Board of Directors.

Mandate

The Ombudsperson acts as an appeal authority for complainants who are dissatisfied with responses from CBC information or program management.

The Ombudsperson generally intervenes only when a correspondent deems a response from a representative of the Corporation unsatisfactory and so informs the Office of the Ombudsperson. However, the Ombudsperson may also intervene when the Corporation fails to respond to a complaint within a reasonable time.

The Ombudsperson determines whether the journalistic process or the broadcast involved in the complaint did, in fact, violate the Corporation's Journalistic Standards and Practices. The gathering of facts is a non-judicial process and the Ombudsperson does not examine the civil liability of the Corporation or its journalists. The Ombudsperson informs the complainant and the staff and management concerned of the review's findings and posts such findings on the Ombudsperson's website.

As necessary, the Ombudsperson identifies major public concerns as gleaned from complaints received by the Office and advises CBC management and journalists accordingly. The Ombudsperson and CBC management may agree that the Ombudsperson undertake periodic studies on overall coverage of specific issues when it is felt there may be a problem and will advise CBC management and journalists of the results of such studies.

The Ombudsperson establishes a central registry of complaints and comments regarding information content, and alerts journalists and managers on a regular basis to issues that are causing public concern.

The Ombudsperson prepares and presents an annual report to the President and the Board of Directors of the Corporation summarizing how complaints were dealt with and reviewing the main issues handled by the Office of the Ombudsperson in the previous year. The report includes mention of the actions, if any, taken by management as a result of the Ombudsperson's findings, provided such disclosure does not contravene applicable laws, regulations or collective agreements. The annual report, or a summary thereof, is made public.

The Office of the Ombudsperson reports annually on how each media component has met the CBC standard of service for the expeditious handling of complaints.

Compliance

The Office of the Ombudsperson is responsible for evaluating compliance with the Journalistic Standards and Practices in all content under its jurisdiction. It can be assisted in this role by independent advice panels.

Panel members are chosen by the Ombudsperson. Their mandate is to assess content over a period of time, or the overall coverage of a particular issue by many programs, and report their findings to the Ombudsperson. The Ombudsperson will advise CBC management and journalists of these findings.

The evaluation measures performance in respecting the fundamental principles of CBC journalism:

  • balance, impartiality, accuracy, integrity and fairness for information content; and
  • balance and fairness for general-interest programs and content when dealing with current issues.

The Office reports bi-annually.

Jurisdiction

The jurisdiction of the Office of the Ombudsperson covers all news, current affairs and public affairs content on radio, television and the internet (whether in-house or produced by a third party) that falls within the scope of the Corporation's Journalistic Standards and Practices, as amended from time to time.

This includes news and all aspects of current affairs and public affairs (political, economic and social) as well as journalistic activities in agriculture, arts, music, religion, science, sports and variety. This also includes user-generated content when incorporated in news, current affairs and public affairs stories.

Complaints beyond the Ombudsperson's mandate should be addressed directly to the programs concerned, or Audience Relations.

Appointment

When filling the Ombudsperson's position, the CBC openly seeks candidates from outside as well as inside the Corporation.

After appropriate consultation, the President and CEO establishes a selection committee of four. Two members, including the committee chair, must be from the public. People currently employed by the Corporation or employed by the Corporation within the previous three years will be excluded from nomination as public members. The other committee members are chosen, one among CBC management, the other among its working journalists. Members representing the Corporation and journalists jointly select the committee chair among the two representatives of the public.

The selection committee examines applications and selects a candidate to be recommended for appointment by the President and CEO.

The Ombudsperson appointment is for a term of five years. This term may be extended for no more than five additional years. The Ombudsperson's contract cannot be terminated except for gross misconduct or in instances where the Ombudsperson's actions have been found to be inconsistent with the Corporation's Code of Conduct Policy 2.2.21.

The outgoing Ombudsperson may not occupy any other position at the CBC for a period of two years following the end of his/her term but can, at the discretion of the incoming Ombudsperson, be contracted to work for the Office of the Ombudsperson.