Canadian broadcasters cover overlapping elections

Tue Sep 30, 2008 10:45pm EDT
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By Etan Vlessing

TORONTO (Hollywood Reporter) - Welcome to the North American election season.

Canadians will mark ballots for a new federal government in two weeks' time. But local coverage of the Canadian election campaign is being swamped by an increasingly dramatic U.S. presidential election beamed into Canada via U.S. networks and 24-hour cable channels.

Just how much overlap is there? A debate this Thursday night by Canada's five political party leaders will air at the same time that the two U.S. vice presidential candidates tangle in St. Louis.

"It's a big issue for us," Jamie Purdon, director of newsgathering for the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., said. "We don't report with the same volume on the American election, but we still report on it."

The CBC has employed the Internet as a way of amplifying coverage of the Canadian election via a dedicated site. Reporters on the planes and buses of party leaders continually blog or report online, in addition to preparing traditional TV and radio clips.

But the blogosphere recently got the public broadcaster in hot water when columnist Heather Mallick's scathing critique of U.S. vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin on the Web site angered right-wing media on both sides of the border.

"Mallick's column is ... viciously personal, grossly hyperbolic and intensely partisan," and should not have run on the site, CBC publisher John Cruickshank said when issuing a formal apology this week.

CTV News president Robert Hurst insisted that he's drawing Canadians to coverage of their own election by focusing on properly gathered and vetted TV coverage.   Continued...