Broadcast of Prank Telephone Call Requires Prior Consent, Says Canadian Broadcast Standards Council

Ottawa, July 4, 2012 – The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning a prank telephone call broadcast on CKZZ-FM’s (Virgin Radio 95,3, Vancouver) afternoon show Kiah & Tara Jean.  The CBSC concluded that the broadcast did not violate anyone’s privacy or contain sexually explicit content, but that the station should have obtained consent before broadcasting the segment.

The show was hosted by Kiah Tucker and Tara Jean Stevens.  The day after Halloween, Tucker telephoned a dentist’s office and talked to the receptionist.  He pretended that all of his teeth had fallen out after eating too much Halloween candy.  At one point, he said “I couldn’t bite you, but I could give you a serious suck.”

The dentist’s office sent a complaint to the CBSC.  It complained that the name of the dental practice and the voice of their receptionist had been broadcast without informing them or obtaining their permission.  They also alleged that Tucker had made an inappropriate sexual comment to the receptionist.  In its response letter, the station apologized for offending the complainant, but pointed out that the segment was meant to be humorous and no sexually explicit comments were made.

The CBSC’s British Columbia Regional Panel examined the complaint under various provisions of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ (CAB) Code of Ethics and Equitable Portrayal Code.  The Panel concluded that the “bite” comment was not necessarily sexual, but even if interpreted that way, it was not sexually explicit under Clause 9(b) of the CAB Code of Ethics.  The Panel also concluded that the broadcast did not violate the receptionist’s privacy because her name was bleeped out, but that the station should have obtained consent before broadcasting the segment.  The failure to obtain prior consent constituted an improper presentation of the content under Clause 6 of the CAB Code of Ethics.

The CBSC was created in 1990 by Canada’s private broadcasters to administer the codes of standards that they established for their industry.  The CBSC currently administers 7 codes which deal with ethics, equitable portrayal, violence, news and journalistic independence.  Nearly 750 radio stations, satellite radio services, television stations and specialty and pay television services across Canada are members of the Council.

– 30 –

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