Brother Jake’s “Wake Up Contests” Not in Breach of Broadcast Code, But Satirical Sketch Is, Says Canadian Broadcast Standards Council

Ottawa, February 11, 2003 – The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released two decisions concerning content broadcast during the Brother Jake Morning Show on radio station CFMI-FM (Rock 101, Vancouver). The first involved two contests, which, according to a listener, contained sexual content that was too explicit for morning radio. The CBSC British Columbia Regional Panel disagreed, finding that the content was more of a sexually suggestive nature and thus not in breach of any broadcaster Code. The second involved a satirical sketch that mentioned “fourth grade girls” in a sexual context. The BC Panel concluded that that sketch was in violation of the provision prohibiting the sexualization of children.

In April, the Brother Jake Morning Show held two contests to win tickets to a hockey game. The first was called “Wake Up Woody” and the second “Wake Up Wendy”. Contestants were required to wake up their sleeping partners using innovative sexual techniques while on the telephone with the Brother Jake Morning Show crew. A listener complained that both the contests' concept and the actual dialogue that occurred during the stunts was inappropriate at a time when families are preparing to leave for school and work. The BC Panel listened to tapes of the broadcasts and examined the complaint under the Canadian Association of Broadcasters' (CAB) Code of Ethics. After explaining that sexually explicit material is unacceptable on morning radio, but that sexually suggestive content is not, it concluded that the broadcasts contained

considerable sexual banter that is on the edge but nothing that falls over it. The contest is filled with double entendres and suggestive comments; however, after examining the comments closely, the Panel concludes that there is nothing that is explicit enough to be in breach of the Code provision. The Panel is not convinced that all children would even understand the innuendo; however, even if some might, the Adjudicators are not of the view that the two contests are sufficiently explicit to fall afoul of the Code.

The satirical sketch was broadcast in June. It contained unrelated comments made by United States President George W. Bush, which were later edited together to produce the humorous effect of making him look foolish. One line in the sketch referred to giving each member of the military a fourth grade girl. The Panel examined that complaint under the CAB Sex-Role Portrayal Code which prohibits the sexualization of children. CFMI-FM was found in breach of that Code:

It considers that neither explicit nor suggestive references to the sexualization of children (under 12) in the flippant, offhand way evident in this satirical broadcast are acceptable. There is neither reason nor excuse for the inclusion of that reference in the Bush satire.

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 530 radio and television stations and specialty services from 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