April 2002

Ottawa, April 23, 2002 — The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning episodes of the Brother Jake Morning Show broadcast on CFMI-FM (Rock 101, Vancouver) in February and May 2001. The show contains usual morning show fare, such as news, traffic and weather reports, and songs. The hosts discuss current events and topics of interest, which are sometimes of a sexual nature, as are some of the taped audio comedy sketches. While the CBSC British Columbia Regional Panel found that certain elements of the program were merely in bad taste and thus not in breach of any broadcaster Codes, it did find that some of the conversations and sketches were too sexually explicit for times of day when children could be expected to be listening.

The B.C. Panel examined various episodes of the Brother Jake Morning Show under the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB) Code of Ethics. The Panel decided that the hosts' discussions and audio sketches involving such topics as flatulence and bodily functions, as well as those containing sexual innuendo were in bad taste, but not in breach of the Code. It also found that sketches that mocked identifiable groups on the shows reviewed did not breach the human rights provision of the CAB Code of Ethics because they did not reach the level of abusively or unduly discriminatory comment. Moreover, none of the sexual discussions exploited either men or women.

Segments that included sexually explicit content, however, were found to be in violation of Clause 6, paragraph 3 of the CAB Code of Ethics which requires that broadcasters ensure the “proper presentation of […] opinion, comment and editorial.” In particular, the Panel concluded that a conversation in which one of the hosts described his sexual experience with a woman on a workbench was too explicit for times when children could be expected to be listening. The Panel also noted that

not only might children have been listening when the remarks were made, but children were in fact invited to be listening and to participate in the 'Kids' Joke Segment', which encourages children to telephone the station and recite a joke on air. […] On the February 9th [2001] broadcast, this Kids' Joke Segment preceded the aforementioned 'sex on the workbench' discussion by a mere seven minutes. Such material is unsuitable for times of the day when children could be expected to be listening, let alone when the hosts are fully aware that children are listening.

Canada's private broadcasters have themselves created industry standards in the form of Codes on ethics, gender portrayal and television violence 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, as well as the Code dealing with journalistic practices first created by the Radio Television News Directors Association of Canada (RTNDA) in 1970. More than 500 radio and television stations and specialty services from across Canada are members of the Council.

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Ottawa, April 17, 2002 — The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning a phrase used during the sports report on CKVX-FM (Xfm, Vancouver) in July 2001. In his recounting of the sports scores from the previous night, the on-air personality announced that the Seattle Mariners baseball team had “bitch-slapped” their opponents. A listener was concerned that this phrase condoned violence against women, and filed a complaint with the CBSC. The CBSC British Columbia Regional Panel examined the issue under various articles of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB) Code of Ethics and Violence Code, including Article 7.1 of the CAB Violence Code which states that

Broadcasters shall not telecast programming which sanctions, promotes or glamorizes any aspect of violence against women.

The B.C. Panel Referred to an earlier CBSC decision in which the question of the application of this principle to radio was dealt with.:

While it is clear that the prohibition against sanctioning, promoting or glamorizing any aspect of violence against women is found in the Code dealing with violence on television, the Council does not assume that Canada's private broadcasters had intended their strong and unequivocal prohibition of such aggressively anti-woman behaviour to extend no further than the television screen. The Council considers that, while the Violence Code was created to deal with a series of content issues far likelier to be present in that medium than in the different style of programming in the radio sphere, the broadcasters did not believe that that prohibitory principle ought not to benefit women across the broadcast spectrum

In the present case, the B.C. Panel found that the term “bitch-slapped” in this context was in breach of Section 7.1 of the Violence Code and other Code provisions because

the violent domination which is of the essence of the term is unacceptable on the public airwaves. There is in its use an assumption that this is an appropriate way to express a significant victory by one team over another. […] There are many many ways to express sports dominance which are not attached to gender or other forms of submissiveness. There is a broad enough choice that no broadcaster can reasonably view itself as unduly limited by reason of the application of the industry's own restriction on the airing of expressions of violence against women. The use of “bitch-slap” is not an option in such circumstances. The Panel finds it in breach of the human rights, sex role portrayal, violence against women and proper presentation of comment provisions […].

Canada's private broadcasters have themselves created industry standards in the form of Codes on ethics, gender portrayal and television violence 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, as well as the Code dealing with journalistic practices first created by the Radio Television News Directors Association of Canada (RTNDA) in 1970. More than 500 radio and television stations and specialty services from across Canada are members of the Council.

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Ottawa, April 16, 2002 — The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning a news report about a cycling accident that aired on CHAN-TV (Global, Vancouver) in April 2001. The news item, which reported the death of a cyclist who had fallen in the path of a truck, showed firefighters hosing down the road surface. A viewer felt that this scene was unnecessarily painful for the victim's friends and family in that “the implication for viewers was that the victim's blood was being washed away.”

The CBSC British Columbia Regional Panel reviewed the underlying tapes shot in connection with the preparation of the news report and determined that the report was not in breach of any broadcaster Codes. It made the following comments in its decision:

[I]t is clear that the conclusion drawn by the complainant is subjective and exaggerated. While it is certainly possible, if not in fact likely, that some of what was being washed away by the firemen's hosing of the street was the blood of the victim, it is at least as likely that other debris from the accident was involved. Any such impact would leave bits and pieces of metal, glass, possibly cloth, undoubtedly dirt from the undercarriage of the vehicle, and so on, on the street, all of which would need to be cleared away. There was absolutely nothing in the broad swathe of watering of the pavement that would have suggested any predominance of blood. There was certainly no indication in the voice-over that there was any blood involved, although the Panel assumes that there probably was some on the road. […] From the point of view of the Code, the Panel believes that the broadcaster did use “appropriate editorial judgment” in the footage that it shot (and from which it ultimately made its broadcast selection) and in avoiding any reference to blood that might have appeared ghoulish at the end of the day. There was no Code breach on this account.

Since CHAN-TV had, apparently inadvertently, lost the logger tapes of the news report, it was thus unable to supply them to the CBSC when required for this adjudication. Consequently, in order to help the CBSC adjudicate the issue, CHAN-TV provided the Council with tapes containing footage used in the newscast and a written transcript of the voice-over, as a substitute for the official logger tapes. Although this allowed the Panel members to adequately rule on the substance of the news item, the B.C. Panel reiterated that CBSC membership requirements clearly indicate that broadcasters must furnish official logger tapes of programming when requested by the Council to do so. The B.C. Panel found CHAN-TV in breach of its responsibilities of CBSC membership on that account.

Canada's private broadcasters have themselves created industry standards in the form of Codes on ethics, gender portrayal and television violence 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, as well as the Code dealing with journalistic practices first created by the Radio Television News Directors Association of Canada (RTNDA) in 1970. More than 500 radio and television stations and specialty services from across Canada are members of the Council.

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Ottawa, April 9, 2002 — The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council today released its decision concerning a prank telephone call broadcast on CFMI-FM (Rock 101, Vancouver) that the station had obtained from an American source. In the phone call, a man posing as a representative from a company conducting drug testing for employers contacted a woman and told her that her test results indicated very high drug use. The woman insisted that there must be an error and, in desperation, eventually offered to sleep with the “tester” in order to be allowed to re-take the test. A listener felt that this broadcast promoted sexual harassment.

The CBSC British Columbia Regional Panel determined that the segment did not breach the Canadian Association of Broadcasters' (CAB) Sex-Role Portrayal Code or the CAB Code of Ethics. The B.C. Panel noted that the male caller “never directly insulted [the woman], nor even made sexually suggestive remarks to her. Indeed, it was [the woman] herself who offered to sleep with the 'tester' in order to be allowed to re-take the tests.” The Panel commented that “[h]ad the 'tester' been the one to suggest sexual activity, the dialogue might have unfolded differently and the Panel might have reached a different conclusion.” The “tester” in fact revealed the prank as soon as the woman had upped the offer to the level of sexual favours. The Panel found the segment to be in very poor taste, but not exploitative of either sex.

The Panel reiterated the CBSC's position that matters of taste must be left to be regulated by the marketplace. In cases where comments broadcast do not breach any broadcaster Codes, it is the listeners' responsibility to use the on/off switch to address content they may find offensive.

The Panel also examined CFMI-FM's response to the complainant in which it explained that the segment was from an American broadcaster and that the call was in fact instigated by the woman's mother. The Panel reiterated the principle that every broadcaster is responsible for all material aired by it regardless of the content's origin, but it did not find any breach of broadcaster responsibility in this regard. It also reiterated the principle that humourous intent is not justification for airing offensive material, although it did not find that this particular prank phone call crossed the line of acceptability on Canadian airwaves.

Canada's private broadcasters have themselves created industry standards in the form of Codes on ethics, gender portrayal and television violence 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, as well as the Code dealing with journalistic practices first created by the Radio Television News Directors Association of Canada (RTNDA) in 1970. More than 500 radio and 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