Ask a thousand Canadians what a "telecaster" is, and 99% would probably think it was a 1950s word for a newfangled TV set. But Telecaster is actually the name of the agency that screens TV ads.
Instead of advertisers having to get approval from every single TV station in the country, Telecaster is their one-stop shop. Canadian TV stations outsource their judgment to Telecaster, which is in charge of basic standards -- no profanity, for example.
Telecaster approves political ads, too. And so, what is a rubber stamp when it comes to toothpaste and shampoo ads becomes a powerful political censor when it comes election campaigns.
If Telecaster's decision-makers were normal people -- if they cared more about toothpaste and shampoo than politics -- this wouldn't be a problem.
But Telecaster's boss, James Patterson, cares enormously about politics.
Over the last three years, according to Elections Canada data dug up by blogger Stephen Taylor, Patterson made a whopping 17 donations to the Liberal Party, totalling more than $4,300.
That's more than most MPs give to their own parties. That's an extreme partisan.
One of the donations was even made in January 2006, just days before the last election. That's important, because Patterson was in charge of censoring TV ads that very moment. And censor he did.
That was when the Liberals rolled out their attack ads, claiming Stephen Harper was going to put "soldiers in our streets". It was absurd, and it backfired.
The point is Telecaster, run by Jim Patterson, didn't censor them, even though they used images of Stephen Harper without his permission.
But when the Conservatives produced a response to those attack ads -- showing video clips of Liberal MPs admitting their own attack ads had gone too far -- Telecaster censored the ads. Telecaster ordered the Conservative ads off the air.
The story gets worse: Telecaster yanked the ads after a complaint from the CBC, because it was their footage that captured the MPs making those statements. The CBC actively intervened to knock Conservative ads off the air. And the Telecaster censor, who just happened to be a major Liberal donor, was happy to comply.
Isn't that a cosy little family?
Has the CBC ever complained about the Liberals using images of Conservative politicians taken from CBC cameras? Don't be ridiculous. The CBC is a wing of the Liberal Party -- the left wing.
When it's not busy trying to yank Conservative ads off the air, it's running Liberal propaganda using tax dollars -- long infomercials, thinly disguised as political talk shows or "documentaries."
All this came out in the open last week when Telecaster refused to allow the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association to run a TV ad briefly showing Harper's own image -- even though the CRFA owned the footage themselves. Telecaster told the CRFA that they couldn't show a picture of Harper without his permission -- a ridiculous requirement that Harper does not want.
We know where this is going.
Patterson, the big Liberal donor, is getting ready to block Tory ads in the upcoming campaign. He knows thin-skinned Stephane Dion, the new Liberal leader, won't grant permission to the Tories to use footage of him saying foolish things.
So he's trying to set a new rule, a new precedent, to protect Dion.
In a free society, politicians have to live with the consequences of what they say. Patterson, the Telecaster censor, wants to change that. We know the CBC is on side with him. What about the rest of Canada's media?
Words fail me. It has been fairly obvious for some time that the media is run by the liberal elite, but not even I expected it to be this bad.