November 13, 2008 / 2:37 PM / 10 years ago

Fishing show in rough water over propaganda

OTTAWA (Reuters) - The host of a Canadian fishing show was reprimanded on Wednesday for broadcasting political propaganda during an election campaign, the first time that a show for anglers has landed in hot water for being partisan.

A Canadian fisherman is silhouetted by the rising sun, September 29, 2008. REUTERS/Paul Darrow

Darryl Cronzy, who presents “Going Fishing,” had been wrong to urge viewers to vote for the opposition Conservatives in an October 2007 election in the province of Ontario, the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council said. Cronzy also mocked the Liberals, the province’s ruling party.

Cronzy’s problems began after Conservative leader John Tory appeared on the show in September 2007, during the campaign.

“Toward the end of the program, Cronzy said, ‘Listen, I’m not telling you who to vote for’ and then contradicted his verbal statement by pointing at John Tory in an obvious and exaggerated manner,” the council said in a formal ruling.

Cronzy also said Tory would be “hopefully, in a couple of months, the head honcho of Ontario.” The two men also joked that one particular fish “went down, just like the Liberals.”

The overly political overtones of the show prompted a viewer to complain to the council on the grounds “that fishing programs are supposed to be about fishing”.

The council said the show broke regulations put into place in 2000 which are designed to ensure parties received fair treatment during election campaigns.

“The broadcaster stepped over the line on numerous occasions ... There was not a modicum of subtlety in host Cronzy’s approach,” it ruled.

Global Television, which aired the show, apologized and said the program had not been reviewed before broadcast. It will now have to read out two apologies on air.

Ron Cohen, who chairs the standards council, said the regulator had never before had to reprimand a fishing program for broadcasting propaganda.

“We’ve had very few complaints about fishing shows. Generally they’ve had to do with the size of the fish that got away,” he told Reuters.

Sadly for Cronzy, the Liberals won the election.

Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Frank McGurty

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