CFNY-FM re a “Wha’ Happened?” segment on the Dean Blundell Show

ontario regional Panel
M. Ziniak (Chair), H. Hassan (Vice-Chair),

THE FACTS

The Dean Blundell Show airs from 5:30 to 10:00 am weekdays on CFNY-FM (102.1 The Edge, Toronto).  It is hosted by Dean Blundell, Todd Shapiro and Jason Barr.  The show includes the usual music, news and traffic reports, humorous banter among the hosts, as well as occasional celebrity interviews and in-studio guests.   In one recurring segment, entitled “Wha’ Happened?”, callers would recount unusual or unbelievable things that had happened to them.  The hosts would then choose the “best” story and the selected caller would win a prize.  The “Wha’ Happened?” segment of March 20 began at approximately 8:00 and lasted eight minutes.  A transcript of the most relevant portion follows (the full transcript can be found in Appendix A):

male voice:       The Dean Blundell Show officially apologizes for all future off-side comments.  However, that will not prevent him from making more in the future.

Blundell:           All right, time for “Wha’ Happened?”

[…]

Barr:     Uh, what’s your story? [Shapiro laughs]

Ashley: So, a few years back, this guy cheated on my friend and we decided to get back at him.  So we all finished work one night and we went to the grocery store and bought a bunch of stuff to throw on his car.  Um, I also brought my cat’s litter box with me.  And we threw it all over the guy’s car and then we left and he called her up and he accused her of doing it.  We denied it and said it wasn’t us.  And then he ended up finding the receipt to all the stuff that we bought at the grocery store.  And he brought it back to the, the grocery store and asked them to see the videotape.  And found out that it was us.

[Shapiro shouts something unintelligible in background.]

Blundell:           He found out what?

Ashley:             He found out that it was in fact us that threw all the, my cat’s litter box and eggs and flour all over his car.  So the police arrested us for mischief and strip-searched us and we had to stay, like, um, for a couple hours in a little room and talk about it and go to court for, like, a year.

[…]

Brenda:             My name’s Brenda.

[…]

Blundell:           Whatta you got?

Brenda:             Uh, my –

Blundell:           Wha’ happened?

Shapiro:            [funny voice] Wha’ happened?

Brenda:             My fiancé, uh, my fiancé accidentally cut off my nipple with a weed whacker.

Barr:                 Wow.

Shapiro:            That’s a good one.

Barr:                 That is, that’s new.

Shapiro:            Can you explain how?

Brenda:             Um, I like to sunbathe in the nude.

Shapiro:            Oh yeah.

Brenda:             And I was in the backyard and my fiancé was doing the lawn work.

Blundell:           So he was weed whacking, was he?  [Shapiro laughs]

Brenda:             He was weed whacking, yes.

Shapiro:            While you’re sun-tanning naked?

Brenda:             Correct.

Shapiro:            Okay.

Barr:                 Seems like a bad combo, but go on.  [Shapiro laughs]

Brenda: [laughs] And he thought it would be funny to scare me with the weed whacker.  And we have the kind of weed whacker that has the, uh, the wires that come out to weed whack the grass.

Barr:                 Yeah.

Brenda:             And it accidentally hit me in the boob.  And took my nipple off.

Barr:                 Now, are you minus one nipple or was it re-attached?

Brenda:             No, I am minus one nipple.

Shapiro:            Wow.

Barr:                 So he ruined his own fun.

Brenda:             And part of a boob.

Blundell:           So you won’t be able to breastfeed out of that nipple?

Brenda:             No.

Barr:                 Wow.

Shapiro:            Are you, are you still with the dude?

Brenda:             I am.

Shapiro:            You gotta be now ’cause you can’t, uh, –

Blundell:           You know, you know what you should do when he lie, uh, when he’s sunbathing naked?  Uh, weed whack the tip of his johnson.

Barr:                 Yeah.  Whack his weed.

Brenda:             Um, then we’re definitely not having children. [laughs]

Barr:                 Right.

Shapiro:            That’d be less pleasure for her too.

Blundell:           Well, plus the tip go like this –

Barr:                 Uh huh.

Blundell:           – so it goes in, so it wouldn’t …

Shapiro:            Oh yeah.

Barr:                 That’s, that’s a good lesson for people to learn.  Don’t play with things like that.

Blundell:           Weed whackers?

Barr:                 Yeah, don’t toy with them.

Blundell:           Hi, The Edge.

Hyper-Lee:        Hi.  I got a story for “What Happened?”

[…]

Hyper-Lee:        Okay, I was living in Mexico –

Shapiro:            Wha’ happened?

Hyper-Lee:        I was living in Mexico and, uh, I was with a guy.  And I couldn’t, couldn’t find the condom after during sex.  And so we’re looking everywhere for it and eventually we realized, we think it was inside me.  So I had to go to a Mexican gynaecologist [Shapiro starts laughing].  And so, my friend went with me and they put the camera –

Blundell:           And he grabbed some salad tongs.

Barr:                 Yeah.  From the taco stand he worked at.  [Shapiro & Blundell laugh]  Which he, he, –

Blundell:           And one of those, and one of those –

Barr:                 – which was good for him because –

Blundell:           What’s that?

Barr:                 – he didn’t have to change the sign, right?

Blundell:           Yeah, taco stand.  [Shapiro laughs]

Blundell:           What’s it called?  Uh, he put on his cave-splunking [sic] helmet, licked his fingers and said [affects Mexican accent] “Here we go!  Come on!  Time to explore the fish taco!  Hey!”  [Shapiro & Barr laugh]

Hyper-Lee:        But they put the camera inside me, right?  And my friend was there and she’s, like, –

Blundell:           Was it, was it, like, a regular size camera?  [Shapiro & Barr laugh]

Barr:                 It was, like, an old Betamax.

Blundell:           [with Mexican accent] Hang on, let me jam this in, okay?

Shapiro:            It’s a Polaroid.

Hyper-Lee:        And then my friend’s, like, “I’ve never seen inside your, a, another woman’s vagina like that before in my life”.  ’Cause the camera was up on the, the TV screen next to where I was sitting.

Barr:                 Yeah?  It was broadcast at the hotel too.

Hyper-Lee:        And anyway, he didn’t find it.

Blundell:           He didn’t find it?

Hyper-Lee:        No, but then the next day, the condom, you know, worked its way out.

Blundell:           Huh.

Barr:                 Wow.

Blundell:           Well, that’s good.

Shapiro:            He probably found it, he’s just playing a joke on you.

Barr:                 Yeah.

Blundell:           Yeah, yeah.

Hyper-Lee:        Yeah.

Barr:                 [affects Mexican accent] Come back tomorrow.

Shapiro:            [laughs] Yeah.

Blundell:           [affects Mexican accent] You know, I cannot see it and I couldn’t taste it, so you’re good!  [Shapiro laughing] Maybe it’s on the other hole!

Barr:                 [with Mexican accent] Are you sure you knew what you were doing?

Blundell:           [with Mexican accent] All right.  Put the camera in.

Barr:                 [with Mexican accent] Bend over.

Blundell:           It’s a Sony handycam.

Barr:                 Yeah.

Blundell:           One of those VHS ones.  [Shapiro laughing]

Barr:                 [with Mexican accent]  Hold on, I have to kick it.  [Blundell laughs]

Blundell:           All right.

Shapiro:            Oh, that was great.

Hyper-Lee:        Believe it or not, it was a real medical camera.

Barr:                 Oh yeah.

Shapiro:            What was his name?  Doctor what?

Hyper-Lee:        Doctor, I don’t know.

Shapiro:            Oh.

Barr:                 Doctor Taco.  [Shapiro laughs]

Blundell:           Hang on, okay?

Hyper-Lee:        Yeah.

Blundell:           That’s a good one.

Barr:                 Yeah.

Blundell:           Hi, The Edge.

Shapiro:            He was Doctor Sanchez.

Blundell:           [sighs]  You win.

Shapiro:            Yeah, yeah, that’s the best.

Barr:                 Which one?

Hyper-Lee:        Me?

Blundell:           The fish taco.

Hyper-Lee:        Awesome!

Barr:                 Really?  Not the lady who got her nipple cut off?

[…]

Blundell:           All right, we’ll split ’em up.  You both win.

Brenda:             Yeah!

Hyper-Lee:        Awesome.

Barr:                 [??] winner.

Blundell:           She doesn’t have a nipple anymore, but this woman had to go to a Mexican gynaecologist.  [Shapiro laughs]

Barr:                 They’re both bad stories.  I get it.  Like, they’re bad things that happened.

[…]

Blundell:           All right.  Uh, congratulations to you both.  Todd, uh, tell them what they’ve won.

The complainant did not initially raise the issue of the March 20 episode of the Dean Blundell Show.  He began with a complaint about the show in general, describing it as

a thoroughly disgusting morning show where they degrade and insult pretty well everyone.  Their content always seems to have a sexual content, with innuendo to the most disgusting and vile acts.  This is an absolute disgrace and must cease immediately.  The Canadian public airways [sic] are no place to be airing this teenage smut and disgusting concepts of how sexually perverse a person can be; it is an outrage.  This show must be terminated with the greatest enforcement as soon as possible.

The complainant’s denunciation of the show is, with all other correspondence, included in Appendix B.  To this initial letter, the CBSC responded as it does in all circumstances where no specific time and date is provided by the complainant.  The Council’s mandate is to deal with specific complaints, not generalities about a program or series.  The complainant responded on March 2, saying, in part:

You require times and dates for the Dean Blundell Show?  How about the entire years of 2005200620072008 – pick a day, any day – each show is guilty of Clause 3.  They do the morning show Monday to Friday.  Try anytime from September 2008 onwards for a more recent approach.

Needless to say, this was not sufficiently focussed either.  The CBSC wrote again that day to explain the reason for the requirement; it added that the Council could only deal with matters for which digital loggers remain available, explaining that broadcasters are only required by the CRTC (and the CBSC) to retain such recordings for 28 days.  The complainant replied on March 6, acknowledging the assistance and explanations provided by the CBSC’s Communications Co-ordinator, while being critical of the CBSC itself, as well as CFNY-FM.  CFNY-FM’s General Manager and the complainant then had an exchange of e-mails and spoke on the telephone.  Then, on March 23, the complainant sent the following e-mail identifying a specific episode of the Dean Blundell Show with which he had problems.

I now have a date and time for the CBSC to investigate.  With respect to the CFNY-FM 102.1 the Dean Blundell morning show.  Check the tapes from 8:00-8:15 AM on Friday March 20th.  I think you will find this type of content to be a fairly typical occurrence on the Dean Blundell morning show – this type of radio content should be stopped immediately.  If you or the CBSC does not agree, then the Dean Blundell morning show, at least, should have a serious warning message to the listening audience as to the nature of the show’s content and how it can be offensive, rude, disgusting and shocking to some of the listening audience.  The fact that younger people can “tune in” and listen to such smutty filth is truly disgusting.

The station’s Program Director replied to that specific complaint on April 13, in pertinent part as follows:

The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (the “CBSC”) has asked us to respond to your email of March 23, 2009, in which you raised concerns regarding comments made during the Dean Blundell Show that aired on CFNY-FM on March 20, 2009.  Specifically, you state that the content broadcast between 8:00 am and 8:15 am that day should be preceded by a warning to the audience that the show’s content may be “rude, offensive, disgusting and shocking” to some of the listening audience.  You also mention that young people can tune at this time and hear what you have described as “smutty filth”.

[…] One of the [two] segments [broadcast in that time frame] was a segment called “Wha’ Happened”, a call-in segment during which listeners relay bizarre, personal anecdotes.

[…]  As far as the “Wha’ Happened” segment is concerned, we agree that some people might find the discussions offensive, but we don’t believe the segment breached the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ Code of Ethics (the “Code”), which is administered by the CBSC and to which we adhere.

The CBSC has stated that a program may contain sexual overtones, but should not be sexually explicit (CJVC-FM re Local Exotic Dancer Bar Commercial, CBSC Decision 97/98-0282).  Where a program is not explicit and does not contain any suggestion of reality or description of an explicit sexual act, the CBSC has further stated that it would not find a breach of the Code (CFQR-FM re The Morning Show, CBSC Decision 01/02 -1137).  The CBSC has also found that a program filled with double entendres and suggestive comments was not explicit enough to be in breach of the Code (CFMI-FM re Brother Jake Morning Show, CBSC Decision 01/02-1137).  While we agree that the comments made during the program were of a sexual nature, we do not believe that the comments were of a sexually explicit nature.  The material was presented using euphemisms and innuendoes and it was delivered in a comedic manner.

The CBSC has also said that, where programming is directed at an adult audience, “there is no overriding societal interest in curtailing the broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression”, and that in those circumstances, crude and vulgar language should be regulated in the same way as other matters of bad taste, i.e. via the on/off or dial button (CIQC-AM re Galganov in the Morning, CBSC Decision 97/98-0473).

In view of the foregoing, we do not believe that the program violated the Code.  […]

The complainant replied to the Program Director the following day, in pertinent part as follows:

RE:  “While we agree that the comments made during the program were of a sexual nature, we do not believe that the comments were of a sexually explicit nature.  The material was presented using euphemisms and innuendoes and it was delivered in a comedic manner.”

[Mr. W], you didn’t find that bit about the Mexican gynaecologist a little sexually grotesque?  Sickening?  Demeaning?  Tossing her salad?  There is NO INNUENDO there.  I mean, c’mon brother, it’s 8 o’clock in the morning for goodness sake and one of the worst radio stations in the country is belting out this filthy crap to the potentially largest listening base in the country.  The innuendo and nuance you refer to is about as suggestive as a sledge hammer hitting a push pin.  Those statements are as crude as they come and there is absolutely nothing subtle or double entendre about them.

Clause 3 – Sex-Role Stereotyping

Recognizing that stereotyping images can and do have a negative effect, it shall be the responsibility of broadcasters to exhibit, to the best of their ability, a conscious sensitivity to the problems related to sex-role stereotyping, by refraining from exploitation and by the reflection of the intellectual and emotional equality of both sexes in programming.  Broadcasters shall refer to the Sex-Role Portrayal Code for Television and Radio Programming [since March 17, 2008, replaced by the Equitable Portrayal Code] for more detailed provisions in this area.

Please look at the above code of ethics.  Do you really think that CFNY exhibited to the best of their ability, a conscious sensitive nature towards airing that piece about the foolish girl and the Mexican gynaecologist?  Intellectual and emotional equality?  Yeah, right.  […]

RE:  “The CBSC has also said that, where programming is directed at an adult audience, ‘there is no overriding societal interest in curtailing the broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression’, and that in those circumstances, crude and vulgar language should be regulated in the same way as other matters of bad taste, i.e. via the on/off or dial button (CIQC-AM re Galganov in the Morning, CBSC Decision 97/98-0473).”

[…]

Directed at an adult audience?  Have you ever seen the amount of warnings on TV about adult content?  Before the show starts, before the resumption of the show after commercials, the Dean Blundell Show should have those warnings before the show starts and before resuming the broadcast from commercials.

So instead of having crude and disgusting morning personalities, you off-load the “disgusting content” onto your listening audience and have them air it?  Wow – sheer brilliance.

[…]  I vehemently oppose your statement “As far as the ‘Wha’ Happened’ segment is concerned, we agree that some people might find the discussions offensive, but we don’t believe the segment breached the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ Code of Ethics (the ‘Code’), which is administered by the CBSC and to which we adhere”.

In addition, I now find the CBSC to also be in hot water as per your comment, because if it is true, then the CBSC needs a good old fashioned “shaking-up” too.

The complainant filed his Ruling Request on April 14 with the following note:

1)         I want to find out how to register a complaint against the CBSC.  I cannot believe that the CBSC would condone the CFNY on-air statements about a young foolish girl and a Mexican gynaecologist.  It was thoroughly disgusting and should never have been allowed on the Canadian public airways [sic].  It seriously looks like it is time to have a long hard look at the CBSC.

2)         Would you please have the CBSC respond to me regarding the letter from CFNY […] dated April 13, 2009 to me.  I wish to appeal this response as it is totally unacceptable.

THE DECISION

The CBSC’s Ontario Regional Panel reviewed the complaint under the following clauses of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ (CAB) Code of Ethics and Equitable Portrayal Code, which read as follows:

CAB Code of Ethics, Clause 3 – Sex-Role Stereotyping

Recognizing that stereotyping images can and do have a negative effect, it shall be the responsibility of broadcasters to exhibit, to the best of their ability, a conscious sensitivity to the problems related to sex-role stereotyping, by refraining from exploitation and by the reflection of the intellectual and emotional equality of both sexes in programming.  Broadcasters shall refer to the Sex-Role Portrayal Code for Television and Radio Programming [since March 17, 2008, replaced by the Equitable Portrayal Code] for more detailed provisions in this area.

CAB Code of Ethics, Clause 9 – Radio Broadcasting

Recognizing that radio is a local medium and, consequently, reflective of local community standards, programming broadcast on a local radio station shall take into consideration the generally recognized access to programming content available in the market, the demographic composition of the station’s audience, and the station’s format. Within this context, particular care shall be taken by radio broadcasters to ensure that programming on their stations does not contain:

[…]

b)         Unduly sexually explicit material […]

CAB Equitable Portrayal Code, Clause 4 – Stereotyping

Recognizing that stereotyping is a form of generalization that is frequently simplistic, belittling, hurtful or prejudicial, while being unreflective of the complexity of the group being stereotyped, broadcasters shall ensure that their programming contains no unduly negative stereotypical material or comment which is based on matters of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, marital status or physical or mental disability.

CAB Equitable Portrayal Code, Clause 7 – Degrading Material

Broadcasters shall avoid the airing of degrading material, whether reflected in words, sounds, images or by other means, which is based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, marital status or physical or mental disability.

The Panel Adjudicators read all of the correspondence and listened to a recording of the segment.  The Ontario Panel concludes that the broadcast did not violate any of the foregoing Code provisions.

Sex-Role Stereotyping

As a general rule, the CBSC has been clear that discussions about sexuality, even when accomplished in juvenile, crass or vulgar terms, do not on that account constitute sex-role stereotyping.  In CKVU-TV re an episode of Nightstand (CBSC Decision 96/97-0140, June 19, 1997), for example, the B.C. Regional Panel considered whether a talk-show parody which aired at midnight had exploited women by telling a “tall tale” about the death of a woman during a bear attack.  According to the story, the woman was tied to a tree nude, spread-eagled and covered with honey by her husband who then left her alone a moment, during which time a bear came and licked all the honey and had sex with her.  The Panel did not find that the episode violated the Sex-Role Portrayal Code:

The view of the B.C. Regional Panel is that, at worst, the segment was in very poor taste, but it did not exploit women.  It was an extended pun, styled in some respects along the lines of what used to be called “shaggy dog” stories.  The humour may have been childish and somewhat sexual or off-colour but it was no more exploitative of the one sex than of the other.  As the CBSC has long established, it will not measure questions of taste in terms of the Codes it administers; such questions are to be left for the resolution of the audience by means of the on/off switch.  It is only when matters of taste pass the threshold of the Codes by reason of their abusive or discriminatory nature or other Code-offending nature that the Panel will measure them against the Codes.  This is not the case here.

Similarly, in rendering its decision in CKX-TV re National Lampoon’s Animal House (CBSC Decision 96/97-0104, December 16, 1997), in response to a complaint about bare breasted women shown in a late night movie, the Prairie Regional Panel stated:

It is essential to remember that the principal goal of the Sex-Role Portrayal Code [since replaced by the Equitable Portrayal Code] relates to the equality of the sexes and not to issues of sexual behaviour which do not go to equality or exploitation, which is itself a form of inequality.

While the Panel is conscious of the fact that the complainant has himself cited Clause 3 of the CAB Code of Ethics, it can find no aspect of the story of the woman and the Mexican gynaecologist to which that Clause could be made, however tortuously, to apply.  There is simply no breach of Clause 3.

Ethnocultural Stereotyping

Although the point was not raised by the complainant, the Panel Adjudicators were somewhat troubled by the language and tone used in the segment dealing with the Mexican gynaecologist.  Beginning with the reference of Hyper-Lee, the woman telling the Mexican story, to “a Mexican gynaecologist”, one of the co-hosts laughed, possibly (in the view of the Panel) as though such terms were mutually exclusive.  Then the reference to the doctor “by name” was a mocking “Doctor Taco”.  And there were numerous examples of the affecting of a Mexican accent to accompany elements of the story.  The bottom line for the Panel, though, is that, although the attitude of the co-hosts was distasteful and crude, there was not a single specific negative stereotypical comment made regarding Mexicans.  Accents, even though they may indeed be mocking, do not per se constitute unduly negative stereotypical comments.  Nor does the application of a yuk-yuk name such as that mentioned immediately above.  All in all, the Panel does not find the unduly negative stereotypical content required for a finding of breach of Clause 4 of the Equitable Portrayal Code.

Degrading Material

As to the application of Clause 7 of the CAB Equitable Portrayal Code, the Panel has found no connection.  In other terms, the Panel finds nothing in the Mexican gynaecologist segment of the program that is remotely degrading.  To use some of the complainant’s words, a bit sickening perhaps (to some), a little grotesque perhaps (to others), certainly bizarre, but demeaning, not at all, in the view of the Panel, nor degrading, to use the word that appears in Clause 7.  To demean, in the sense of the Oxford English Dictionary, is: “To lower in condition, status, reputation or character.”  To degrade, in the OED, is: “To lower in estimation; to bring into dishonour or contempt.”  Those are the critical terms insofar as Clause 7 is concerned.  In the view of the Panel, that segment in no way accomplishes any of those forms of diminution.  The challenged segment is not in breach of Clause 7.

Sexual Explicitness on Radio

The Panel can do no better in reviewing the definition and limits of sexual explicitness on radio than to refer to its decision of several months ago in CFNY-FM re a “Gay Jeff” segment on the Dean Blundell Show (CBSC Decision 08/09-0700, June 25, 2009).

The key terminology, as laid down in Clause 9(b) of the CAB Code of Ethics is “unduly sexually explicit material”.  The implication of the phraseology is that some sexually explicit material will be acceptable; it is only unduly sexually explicit material that will not be.  It is evident that one person’s measure of those words can be expected to differ from another’s and that there cannot be a mathematical formula applicable to such circumstances as those that face the Ontario Regional Panel in the matter at hand.  And yet the CBSC Adjudicators must arrive at an assessment of what is and what is not acceptable for radio broadcast at different times of day.  It can and will do so, relying on previous CBSC jurisprudence, which reflects the considered judgment of many Adjudicators evaluating the issue of sexual explicitness across Canada over nearly twenty years.  Even with that tool in hand, the Panel has no illusions.  It does not, indeed it cannot, hope to arrive at a mathematical predictability in such matters.

Historically, “unduly” has been a function of the time of day.  The CBSC has interpreted the word to mean too explicit for daytime or early evening radio hours, in other words, too explicit for times of the day when children could reasonably be expected to be listening.  Bearing that in mind, the various CBSC Panels have determined that sexual innuendo, double entendres, mention of body parts and mild references to sexuality will not be understood to be “too” or “unduly” explicit, even at that time of day.  On the other extreme, detailed descriptions of actual sexual activity or clearly understandable references to an actual sexual act will violate the Code if aired at a time when children could be listening.  The foregoing borders of sexual explicitness are still hypothetical.

The Panel then provided references to, and extracts from, ten additional CBSC decisions providing concrete examples of sexual commentary that either constituted, or did not constitute, unduly explicit sexual content.  The conclusion in the decision dealing with the facts raised in the “Gay Jeff” segment was that

the examples were simply insufficiently explicit to amount to “unduly sexually explicit” content.  This is not to say that they might not be understood by some young persons; it is rather that the sexual dialogue was not anything like the “in your face” examples cited above.  And material that is on the cusp is protected by the application of the principle of freedom of expression, which takes precedence over material that is not clearly in breach of a codified standard.

In the matter at hand the Panel concludes that the dialogue pertaining to the Mexican gynaecologist contained even less sexual content than the “Gay Jeff” segment.  There was only a reference to the fact that the caller had had sexual intercourse.  There was no description of the act itself.  The reference to the missing condom and how it worked itself out was not at all sexual.  As suggested above, perhaps distasteful, but certainly not sexual.  There is no breach of Clause 9(b) on that account.

Broadcaster Responsiveness

In addition to assessing the relevance of the Codes to the complaint, the CBSC always assesses the responsiveness of the broadcaster to the substance of the complaint.  The Panel is acutely conscious of the fact that the complainant was particularly critical of the entire concept of the program and seemed to believe that he could pick any episode and find problematic content.  He did make his choice of episodes and provided CFNY-FM’s Program Director with the opportunity to respond.  It was clear that the Program Director did not convince the complainant of his position.  That is understandable.  After all, complaints never get to an adjudication unless the complainant finds the broadcaster’s position untenable.  And in this case, the fundamental criticism of the complainant was that he appeared to find it incomprehensible that the Program Director did not see matters the way he did.  He posited, “Do you sincerely, really believe what you have written to me?  I cannot believe what I am reading from you.  It sounds just like a canned response.”   The CBSC Secretariat and CBSC Panels see hundreds and hundreds of such responses every year, and they consider that the letter of the Program Director provided a thorough, thoughtful and contextual reply to the complainant, including references to previous CBSC jurisprudence.  That is what a careful broadcaster reply ought to do.  There is nothing wrong, and indeed much right, with a broadcaster guiding its content decisions, both before the fact and after, with references to the standards and the CBSC’s interpretations of them.  Moreover, there is nothing inherently incorrect or unreasonable in the broadcaster’s taking the position that it was justified in airing what it did.  Broadcasters do not always do so, but it is reasonable that they take such a position.  In any case, the Panel is of the view that nothing more by way of a reply could be expected of any broadcaster.  CFNY-FM has amply fulfilled its CBSC membership obligation of responsiveness on this occasion.

This decision is a public document upon its release by the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council.  It may be reported, announced or read by the station against which the complaint had originally been made; however, in the case of a favourable decision, the station is under no obligation to announce the result.