Home Media Action Alerts2012 CTV Defends Giving Band Airtime to Slur Israel as an “Apartheid” State

CTV Defends Giving Band Airtime to Slur Israel as an “Apartheid” State

by Mike Fegelman

CTV showed an unforgivable lack of judgement by praising, promoting, and providing a fringe anti-Israel band airtime to slur Israel as an “apartheid” state.

CTV Defends Giving Band Airtime to Slur Israel as an “Apartheid” State

By: Mike Fegelman, Executive Director

Dear HonestReporting Canada Subscribers,

We recently received complaints from our subscribers who were alarmed at the performance of a musical group called “Three Little Birds” who appeared on CTV Morning Live in Ottawasinging a rabidly anti-Israel song slurring Israel as an “apartheid” state.

On June 18, CTV program host

Jeff Hooper pitched a compact disc recorded by this group and then invited them to sing what turned out to be a slanderous anti-Israel song called “Apartheid”. The term, as is widely known, is considered “hateful, divisive and a distortion of history.” International law considers “apartheid” to be a crime against humanity and using Michael Ignatieff’s words, the apartheid analogy is a “deliberate attempt to portray the Jewish state as criminal”. It’s for these reasons that Toronto’s City Council condemned the “Israel Apartheid” phrase as part of the city’s anti-discrimination policy. This fringe musical group incidentally performed at a concert this past March sponsored by Carleton University’s ‘Students Against Israeli Apartheid’ organization.

In correspondence with CTV executives, we asked why and who gave this group free airtime on this CTV program to sing a song promoting intolerance? We also noted that it looked like the program’s host, Jeff Hooper, seemed unaware of the offensive nature of the song planned by this group which raised questions about the vetting process at the station.

This CTV produced segment lasted over eight minutes in length and can be viewed in its entirety immediately below. (This clip is currently being hosted on CTV’s Youtube channel at the

following link.)

Three Little Birds

HonestReporting Canada called on CTV to promptly rectify this situation which saw a respected Canadian news network broadcast eight minutes worth of airtime casting Israel as an “apartheid” state.

In response to our complaint, CTV Two’s Regional Vice-President Richard Gray stated the following on July 13:

“I respect and can understand why your supporters are displeased with the recent appearance by “Three Little Birds” on our station since their performance of the song “Apartheid” states a contrary point of view.

I can assure you, however, their inclusion on CTV Morning Live was not done to promote intolerance in any way.  They were instead on the program in celebration of a local musical success story.

The Ottawa based band was promoting the Ottawa Jazz Festival, one of the biggest summer events in the City, at which they were going to be performing live after previously also appearing this spring at the Ottawa Tulip festival.  They were also discussing an about to be released CD.

That they chose to make a political statement during their performance is not uncommon for bands and also not something we are overly concerned about.  Our viewers have become accustomed to what I’m sure you’re also keen aware—creating controversy is what musicians often do.”

Our displeasure, and that of our members, was not just limited to CTV’s decision to air this band and its hateful song, but was also due to their host’s encouragement that CTV viewers can “buy this song when you hear it” and his praise for the band as having “… a lot of political type of feeling to the music… so music that means something, that’s really cool, I like that.” CTV also encouraged its viewers to go to the Three Little Bird’s MySpace page to find out more information about the band.

For CTV to have given this group airtime, pitched their compact disc, and then praised the trio before they launched into a song slurring Israel as an “apartheid” state shows an unforgiveable lack of judgement. For CTV’s senior executives to condone this kind of broadcasting behaviour has put its parent agency, BellMedia, into disrepute by association.

How You Can Make A Difference:

CTV claims it welcomes receiving viewer feedback as it “allows them to better review the choices we make each day when covering our local community.” Help CTV make better choices by sensitizing them to your concerns. Please condemn CTV’s efforts in praising, promoting, and providing a band airtime to slur Israel as an “apartheid” state. Send your considered comments to CTV Regional Vice-President Richard Gray: Richard.Gray@bellmedia.ca

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Office:P.O. Box 6, Station Q Toronto, Ontario M4T 2L7

Phone: (416) 915-9157 E-mail: info@honestreporting.ca Web: www.honestreporting.ca

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