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Provincial government shuts BCCLA out of international media centre

Vancouver, B.C. – The Provincial Government has told the BCCLA that the human rights organization’s communications are not welcome at the “International Media Centre” (IMC) during the Olympics. The refusal to distribute the BCCLA’s media release comes months after the BCCLA’s original request to communicate with the media at the IMC.

“Apparently Google launching a special Olympic street view is an appropriate press release, but the BCCLA launching a special Olympic legal observer program is not,” said Robert Holmes, President of the BCCLA. “Government has used public dollars to corner the market on international media; it’s hardly appropriate for them to use those public resources to censor the messages that media receives.”

The IMC is hosted by B.C.’s 2010 Winter Games Secretariat and includes a press conference and press release distribution system for the Olympics that they have made open to the public and local and international businesses. After making a general inquiry, the BCCLA was invited to submit a press release via the online application process by a representative of the Olympic Secretariat.

In exchanges that lasted over three months, the BCCLA requested access to the media at the IMC multiple times, but were not finally refused access until February 9, just three days before the opening ceremonies.

“If we’d had a refusal right at the beginning because our message was inappropriate for the centre, we could have had that discussion and still had time before the Olympics,” said Holmes. “What this appears to be instead is that the provincial government strung us along and then shut the door just 72 hours before the opening ceremonies.”

Government representatives refused to respond to the BCCLA’s requests for explanation about the reason for the refusal by press time.

Read email >> Read letter >>

MEDIA CONTACTS:
Robert Holmes, President, (604) 681-1310
David Eby, Executive Director, (778) 865-7997

BACKGROUNDER

December 11, 2009 BCCLA sends a general e-mail inquiry to the Olympic Secretariat requesting access to the media at the IMC.

December 11, 2009 An IMC representative responds and advises a reply will be coming shortly.

December 17, 2009 Sarah Harrison, Communications Director for the Olympic Secretariat, writes and invites the BCCLA to submit their request via the online system established for the IMC.

December 17, 2009 The BCCLA submits their application via the IMC online system requesting press release distribution and access to hold press conferences.

December 22, 2009 The BCCLA’s online request is confirmed received by the IMC and the BCCLA is advised that preliminary approval for requests meeting BCMC requirements (which are unlisted) will be issued by four days earlier, December 18, 2009.

January 18, 2010 The BCCLA writes to request information on the status of their request.

January 18, 2010 An Olympic Secretariat representative asks that someone reply to the BCCLA.

January 22, 2010 The BCCLA writes to request information on the status of their request and notes nobody has responded to the January 18 e-mail.

January 25, 2010 Sarah Harrison writes to advise that they are unable to guarantee space to the BCCLA for press conferences due to a high volume of requests and advises that the BCCLA is still being considered for press conference space but cannot get a firm commitment currently.

January 27, 2010 The BCCLA writes to ask about the status of the request for press release distribution.

January 27, 2010 Sarah Harrison asks that the BCCLA resend the press release, and the BCCLA does so.

February 2, 2010 The BCCLA writes to ask about the status of the request for press release distribution.

February 8, 2010 The BCCLA writes to ask about the status of the request for press release distribution.

February 9, 2010 Sarah Harrison writes that the IMC will not distribute the BCCLA’s press release.

February 9, 2010 The BCCLA writes to ask why the release will not be distributed. No reply is received.