Margaret Atwood, Rupert Murdoch and Index

“Dear Sun Readers” begins Atwood’s pithy response to the recent controversy surrounding her signing a stop Fox News North petition that’s aiming to try and keep the right-wing television station off the air in Canada. Atwood is objecting to the way the channel will be funded and the government’s involvement. Her involvement sparked a debate on Twitter with conservative blogger Stephen Taylor and Toronto Sun Media’s Ottawa bureau chief, David Akin. During the Twitter spat, the men accused Atwood of calling the Sun an advocate of hate speech since the right-wing news channel is proposed by Sun Media. Akin tweeted:

So disappointing you would put your name to what is an anti-free speech movement. You’re smarter than that.

However, Atwood was quick to reply with:

“Free speech does not mean under-the-carpet deals that would force people to pay for Fox out of cable fees.”

After clearing any confusion and allegations made by the Sun about the Avaaz petition with spiffy ‘Allegation’ and ‘Fact’ statements, Atwood reiterates what the petition is about.

“As concerned Canadians who deeply oppose American-style hate media on our airwaves, we applaud CRTC’s refusal to allow a new ‘Fox News North’ channel to be funded from our cable fees. We urge Mr. Von Finckenstein to stay in his job and continue to stand up for Canada’s democratic traditions, and call on Prime Minister Harper to immediately stop all pressure on the CRTC on this matter.”

And she adds in subtle caps lock:


She mentions her views on censorship, underscoring the use of Twitter as a mode of free expression while name-dropped us too:


Nope. Read the petition again.

Now Konrad von Finckenstein has said he isn’t under pressure (unlike his fired CRTC deputy), and will judge Application # 2 on its merits. Good!


Book burning, murdering, jailing and exiling writers, and shutting down newspapers, publishers, and TV stations. If you are against this, support PEN International and Index on Censorship.

Calling the Avaaz petition “censorship” is beyond cheap.


No, and it’s not “censorship” to send back hate mail unopened and refuse material for your own blog, either.

Anyone can vent on their own Twitter or blog. And anyone can sign a petition to express their views.”

The latest update on the Avaaz petition states that over 80,000 people have signed it, over $110,000 has been donated to meet legal threats and Kory Teneycke, PM Harper’s former chief spokesman resigned on 15 September.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission hearing is on Sun TV News will begin on 19 November in Gatineau, Quebec.

Margaret Atwood features in the next issue of Index on Censorship magazine.