Tuesday, October 09, 2007

An explanation is required

I have been criticized for warning bloggers who are blogging about the referendum during the blackout. Firstly, I did it as a public service, not as an attempt to silence opposition to my particular viewpoint. I did it because of how I read the following parts of the election law:

"Section 1:

“referendum advertising” means advertising in any broadcast, print, electronic or other medium that,

(a) has the purpose of promoting a particular result in the referendum, and

(b) appears during the referendum period,

Section 17:

(2) No person or entity shall arrange for or consent to referendum advertising that appears during the blackout period. O. Reg. 211/07, s. 17 (2).

(3) No broadcaster or publisher shall allow a referendum advertisement to appear during the blackout period. O. Reg. 211/07, s. 17 (3)."

To me, this indicates that any blogger "promoting a particular result in the referendum" would be guilty under this law. Now, Scott Tribe did his due diligence and found out that Elections Ontario only considers something advertising if it has been paid for by an election campaign. I have further concerns for bloggers that are affiliated, as I am, with one of the referendum campaigns. Since there is an implied relationship between a blogger and a blog roll, particularly when they advertise on each other's sites, it was my thought that perhaps this would constitute advertising. This is particularly true with the use of omnibus, referendum only, blogs that both sides used during the campaign. Clearly, both sides were using blogs as a means of disseminating propaganda. In essence, for the exact same reason you would use advertising. This would differentiate them from MSM sources, who while they may demonstrate bias or endorse a particular side, do not advertise for that side right beside the editorial or article.

Also troublesome, and I realize I am putting myself in hot water by publishing, is the issue of the banners on many blogs. The clause "No... publisher shall allow a referendum advertisement to appear during the black out" gave me a lengthy pause as a new post generates its own separate webpage where a separate and new advertisement for the referendum campaign would appear. Now I realize this would force people to stop blogging or take down their banners during the blackout which I believe to be unreasonable (here I mean practically, legally I don't know). The unreasonableness of this is why I have decided, after some deliberation, to put out this post and one more post before the polls close.

What all this demonstrates to me is that we need to figure out exactly how blogs are to be treated in future elections. If my pestering this morning starts a tiny debate in that direction, then it will have been worth my time. Given the information that Scott received I encourage all bloggers to use their personal blogs to debate this issue. However, I will not post on it any further. As a member of the executive of one of the referendum campaigns I do not think I can effectively separate personal from campaign blogging. I hope this helps to clarify my position.

1 comment:

Scott Tribe said...

For the record, EO did not have an issue with my "Vote For MMP" logo at my site either.

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