Accusation of Hatred by Muslims Violates Broadcast Code of Ethics, Says Canadian Broadcast Standards Council

Ottawa, June 1, 2011 – The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning an episode of the program Sid Roth’s It’s Supernatural broadcast on CITS-TV (CTS – Crossroads Television Ontario) on September 14, 2010.  The CBSC concluded that aspects of the discussion about Islam on the challenged episode of the program were in accordance with the requirements of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ (CAB) Code of Ethics and Equitable Portrayal Code, but that one of the assertions breached the Human Rights Clauses of both those Codes.

A complainant characterized the challenged episode as “a vicious attack on a huge portion of the world's population, namely, Islam” and concluded that the “apparent goal of [the broadcaster’s] message is to incite people to share his distorted view of Muslim people.”  The Ontario Regional Panel began by making it clear that “Such sweeping generalizations are […] insufficient to enable the Panel to find a breach of the Human Rights Clauses.  In order to reach such a conclusion, the Panel must find concrete examples of abusive or unduly discriminatory content.”

Among the discussion subjects on the episode, during which author Joel Richardson was the invited guest, were: first, the 7th century Treaty of Hudaibiya and its application in the modern era; and, second, an assertion that “Muslims believe it is their divine call to eliminate the Jewish people.”  Regarding the treatment of the Treaty, the Panel explained that it

takes no position on the underlying issue of the interpretation of the significance of the Treaty of Hudaibiya itself, its origins, its breach or its lessons for today.  The issue for the Panel is limited to the treatment by the broadcaster of those issues.  On that limited subject, the Panel finds no Code breach.  The host and his guest had an opinion, indeed several opinions.  As is not infrequently the case (in discussions involving precepts of any religion), there were shadings of perspective by the host and his guest that may be criticized as more tenuous and sceptical.  In the absence of materially misleading underlying content […], the Panel considers that Messrs. Roth and Richardson were entitled to hold and to air their point(s) of view.

As to the second assertion, the Panel found a significant problem, which they explained as follows:

While that statement is, strictly speaking, an opinion, it is a pointed, barbed accusation that all Muslims consider that it is a divine or sacred responsibility to kill every Jew, even when there are no more than a “few Jews left hiding behind a tree or a rock.”  Even if that were a solid, uncontradicted principle established by one or another of the learned texts that are cornerstones of the Islamic religion, the Panel considers that such an accusation directed in such general terms against, in effect, all Muslims is an abusive or unduly discriminatory comment that violates the proscription against such comments in the Human Rights Clauses of the CAB Code of Ethics and the Equitable Portrayal Code.

Canada’s private broadcasters have themselves created industry standards in the form of Codes on ethics, equitable portrayal, television violence and journalistic independence by which they expect the members of their profession will abide.  In 1990, they also created the CBSC, which is the self-regulatory body with the responsibility of administering those professional broadcast Codes and the pay television Codes, as well as the Code dealing with journalistic ethics created by the RTNDA – Association of Electronic Journalists in 1970.  Almost 745 radio stations, satellite radio services, television stations and specialty services from across Canada are members of the Council.

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All CBSC decisions, Codes, links to members' and other web sites, and related information are available on the CBSC's website at www.cbsc.ca. For more information, please contact the CBSC National Chair, Mme Andrée Noël CBSC Executive Director, John MacNab