Radio-Canada Shamefully Defends Game Show That Put Jerusalem in "Palestine" (September 2, 2011)

September 2, 2011



Radio-Canada Shamefully Defends Game Show That Put Jerusalem in “Palestine”

By: Mike Fegelman, Executive Director September 2, 2011


  View this Article Online and Discuss on HRC’s Blog “Headlines and Deadlines”


Dear HonestReporting Canada Subscriber,

On August 12, Radio-Canada, the French-language network of CBC News, broadcast a game show called “Connivence” which featured a question that presumed Jerusalem was a city in “Palestine,” despite the fact that Jerusalem is currently in, and an inseparable part of, the State of Israel.

To watch this segment please click here or immediately below:

In our critique of Radio-Canada, we noted that Jerusalem “is de facto under Israeli sovereignty – therefore the Radio-Canada question is simply factually incorrect in addition to it being a charged political statement.”

Close to 300 HonestReporting Canada subscribers responded to our call to action which made Radio-Canada acutely aware of the controversy that this show had created. On Wednesday, Radio Canada’s audience relations department officially responded to our subscriber’s complaints stating the following:

Connivence is a game show, not a news or current affairs program. On August 12, the show’s contestants consisted of three teachers and a school principal. After covering the initial five out of 15 possible topics, contestants had to answer a series of speed questions. In the “holy cities” category, the question was “What city in Palestine …” – at which point the contestant interrupted the host and immediately answered “Jerusalem.”

The host then finished reading the rest of the question: “… is a well-known pilgrimage site for Christians, Jews and Muslims?”

The question was asked in a religious context (“holy cities” category). We regret if you saw it as having a political connotation. We do, however, take your complaint seriously. Because the production company is responsible for all aspects of the show, we passed your message on to them for discussion and follow-up. After reviewing the context and their content research process, we are satisfied with the producer’s reply (see attached).

Thank you for taking the time to share your concerns with us; they will certainly help inform management discussions about viewer perceptions.”

Radio-Canada also attached the following letter that was drafted by Ginette Gaulin, Director of Business and Legal Affairs on behalf of the producer of B.U.B.B.L.E.S. Television (creators of Connivence) who stated the following:

While Connivence is a game show produced by a third party and not an information news program, Radio Canada is still responsible for the content that is broadcast on its airwaves regardless of the nature of the program. The fact that there exists no country with the name “Palestine” is well known and is not considered controversial. There is however a country called Israel, whose proclaimed capital is Jerusalem. This fact is also well known and is not considered controversial. It’s Radio Canada’s responsibility to ensure that they use correct reference materials. Furthermore, the definitions of Jerusalem cited by Ms. Gaulin, and which Radio Canada claims to be satisfied with, are incomplete and therefore incorrect as both definitions also state that Jerusalem was proclaimed the capital of Israel in 1980. Yet, Ms. Gaulin neglected to mention this information in her response.

Furthermore, the fact that Ms. Gaulin referenced only French-language dictionaries to defend their position indicates that Radio-Canada is trying to make this a cultural issue – that is to say that the French interpret “Ville de Palestine” as being an area or region of “Palestine” in a broader, historical sense. Whereas English dictionaries like describe Jerusalem as being “a city in and the capital of Israel.” Merriam-Webster says Jerusalem is “of Israel since 1950 & formerly * of ancient kingdoms of Israel & Judah; old city under Israeli control since 1967.” Finally, Oxford Dictionary at least says that Jerusalem is the “proclaimed… capital of Israel.”

Interestingly, Radio-Canada’s reply pointedly made mention of the fact that the quiz show contestants were three teachers and a principal (educated people who would know better we suppose) to purportedly lend weight to their position.

Placing the capital of Israel in a fictional state called Palestine clearly makes a political statement. And yet, Radio-Canada is publicly funded with a missionto “not promote any particular point of view on matters of public debate.” Since the question was inaccurate and in light of Radio Canada’s self-proclaimed responsibility to “invest our time and skills to learn, understand and clearly explain the facts to our audience,” for the purpose of accuracy, we expected Radio Canada to correct this error. So far, they have declined to do so.

In sum, we find both Radio-Canada’s and B.U.B.B.L.E.S. Television’s responses unsatisfactory, irresponsible, and contrary to their own ethical standards. Yesterday, we respectfully communicated these concerns to both organizations in the goals of continuing a constructive dialogue on this matter. We are still hopeful that Radio-Canada will come to its senses. Notwithstanding, when our public broadcaster uses tax dollars to assault the legitimacy of the state of Israel, HonestReporting Canada will be on the front lines to expose this shameful media bias against Israel.



View this Article Online and Discuss on HRC’s Blog “Headlines and Deadlines”


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