CBC gets a D grade for access to information requests

The Canadian Newspaper Association looked at the compliance of government institutions at the municipal, provincial and federal levels with freedom-of-information laws. in its fourth annual review.  These laws are designed to enable members of the public to view government records on request, subject to certain exemptions.  Unlike other government departments or division, the CBC had always been exempt from this law —until 1997 when the Conservatives changed the rules and made access to CBC files the same as all the other government divisions.  Ever since, the CBC has complained that they couldn’t keep up with demand.  Their whining resulted in more cash from the government to help speed up the process.  Still, after all this time, they get a grade of “D”. 

National Post:

CBC flunks information access test
Government institutions stymie public, audit finds

Andrew Mayeda,
National Post
Published: Saturday, January 10, 2009

Government institutions from local police forces to federal departments continue to stymie access to public records through excessive delays, prohibitive fees and the refusal to provide records in electronic form, according to an audit of freedom-of-information regimes across Canada.

The CBC, the public broadcaster, received the worst mark of the federal institutions tested, receiving a “D” grade.

“There’s an irony there, I guess,” said CBC spokesman Jeff Keay of a media outlet failing a test of openness by the media.

“It doesn’t come as a great surprise. We came under the legislation as of September, 2007, and in retrospect we were unprepared for the very high volume of Access to Information requests that came through.

“When you are a large and well-known entity that a lot of people have either an intellectual, or in some cases emotional, attachment to, it puts you front and centre on a lot of people’s radar.”

[…]

In response to the test requests, the CBC asked for a six-month extension to release a list of its top employees, including salary ranges, and did not respond to a request for its policy on employees speaking to the media. …

(Hat tip to conservativegal)

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