In February 1990, the PEI branch of the Canadian Youth Pro-Life Organization (CYPLO) organized a Valentine’s Day variety concert as a fund raiser. Like dozens of other groups, they expected to publicize it on the local CBC’s free bulletin board service, They were refused permission to use the service.
“The secretary at the station said nothing touching on abortion would be accepted for the bulletin board service. It was too controversial. I pointed out that a variety concert wasn’t presenting any point of view. She still refused to air it,” explained Paul Chandler, one of the adult coordinators of CYPLO.
This was particularly puzzling to Mr. Chandler since only a few months earlier the same station was anxious to interview Alex Schadenberg of CYPLO when he was in the area for the Youth Chastity Conference.
As a result, Mr. Chandler wrote to the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). He was told that the CRTC sets its own policies about what they consider suitable for air.
However, almost six months after the concert, Mr. Chandler received a letter from the CBC, dated August 8, admitting that its Charlottetown affiliate had not handled CYPLO’s request properly.
“The CBC policy you were quoted applies to produced public service announcements and paid advertisements, but not to notices of community events such as the one you have submitted,” the letter read. “The notice should have had its place inside the station’s community billboard programs which are aired regularly at CBCT.”
The CBC apologized for denying CYPLO an opportunity to publicize its 1990 Valentine’s Day concert.
In early August, the provincial chapter of the pro-life, pro-family lobby group REAL Women was preparing for a public lecture by their new national president Judy Anderson. Unaware of CYPLO’s experience, a REAL Women member delivered a Bulletin Board notice about the coming lecture to the Charlottetown station.
Without even reading the notice, a CBC employee refused air time, pointing out that REAL Women is a political lobby group. She shrugged off protests that Status of Women activities are regularly advertised. Only indignant persistence elicited a promise to pass the notice to higher authorities.
Coincidentally, this occurred just a day or so after CC management would have received copies of the CRTC letter to Paul Chandler. Even more coincidentally, before REAL Women officials could prepare an official protest, the station unexpectedly began to air the announcement in some of the better time slots.
It appears that Paul Chandler’s determination won a small but significant victory for all pro-life and pro-family oriented groups in the province.