Adopting a human rights lenses, the problematic of this paper is to answer the question of “whose right to communicate: Al-Jazeera or CRTC?”. In other words, one should think about how can we draw a line between a free practice of the human right to communicate, which involves the recipients’ choice of the message, its sender, and its possible consequences on the one hand, and a possible social censorship against hate speech, and propaganda on the other.
The paper adopts the Habermassian notion of the Ideal Speech Situation articulated in his Theory of Communicative Action as its theoretical background, in which he argues that in an ideal speech situation, the sender should consider the recipients while composing, and sending his/her messages. The question remains, what are the criteria of an ideal speech situation according to the CRTC, and will Al-Jazeera be able to maintain the purity, sincerity, and truthfulness in its messages, or not? On the methodological level, the paper will be divided into two main sections: the first is a historical overview of the “right to communicate” concept arguing that it is not merely the product of the various declarations and covenants in the 20th century, but rather is a thought that is born out of the work of many intellectuals, such as that of John Stuart Mill, John Locke, Jeremy Bentham, and Voltaire among others. After providing the reader with a brief historical background of the emergence of the Al-Jazeera network during the 1991Gulf War, the paper will analyze the CRTC ‘s “code of ethics” in which it stated that Al-Jazeera should not fall into “the trap of propaganda and speculation” .
Global Media Journal Vol 4 Issue 7 2005. Text available here.