On April 3, 2017, Global Edmonton aired a report at 5:03 pm during its 5:00 pm newscast. Anchor Gord Steinke read the report:
The Sunwing pilot who was so drunk he appeared to have passed out in the cockpit is being sent to jail. Miroslav Gronych has been sentenced to eight months behind bars, minus time served. He has also been banned from operating any aircraft for two years. Gronych pleaded guilty last month for trying to fly with a blood alcohol level three times the legal limit. Gronych has since been fired and has been going to treatment for alcohol addiction.
Steinke’s remarks were accompanied by two photographs of Gronych in his pilot’s uniform and footage of Sunwing airplanes on a runway.
The CBSC received a complaint about the report on April 4. The viewer pointed out that the pilot had in fact been banned from flying for one year, not two as was stated in Global’s report.
On April 20, Global Edmonton aired a correction, during both its 5:00 pm and 11:00 pm newscasts, read by anchor Su-Ling Goh:
We’d like to clarify a story we broadcast at the beginning of the month. Global News reported the Sunwing pilot convicted of being drunk at the controls of an aircraft was sentenced to eight months in jail and banned from operating an aircraft for two years. In fact, Miroslav Gronych was banned from flying for one year after his release. We apologize for any confusion this may have caused.
The station also wrote to the complainant on May 1 apologizing for the error and explaining that it was an oversight not intended to mislead audiences. Global also noted that it had aired a correction and thanked the complainant for his feedback. The complainant filed his Ruling Request on May 5, stating that he accepted Global’s apology, but remained concerned about how it would ensure the accuracy of its reports in future. (The full text of all correspondence can be found in the Appendix.)
The English-Language Panel examined the complaint under the following provisions of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ (CAB) Code of Ethics and Radio Television Digital News Association of Canada’s (RTDNA) Code of Journalistic Ethics:
CAB Code of Ethics, Clause 5 – News
(1) It shall be the responsibility of broadcasters to ensure that news shall be represented with accuracy and without bias. Broadcasters shall satisfy themselves that the arrangements made for obtaining news ensure this result. They shall also ensure that news broadcasts are not editorial.
RTDNA Code of Journalistic Ethics, Article 1.0 – Accuracy
We are committed to journalism in the public interest that is accurate and reliable.
1.2 Accuracy also requires us to update and correct news and information throughout the life cycle of a news story as we become aware of relevant and reliable information.
1.3 Errors and inaccuracy that affect the understanding of a news story will be unambiguously and promptly corrected.
The Panel Adjudicators read all of the correspondence and viewed the broadcasts in question. The Panel concludes that Global Edmonton violated Clause 5 of the CAB Code of Ethics and Article 1.0 of the RTDNA Code of Journalistic Ethics for the erroneous information about the pilot’s sentence, but it met the requirements of Article 1.3 of the RTDNA Code of Journalistic Ethics by airing the correction.
Accuracy in News
It is clear from the above noted code provisions that accuracy is fundamental to the broadcast of news. The CBSC has repeatedly found that broadcasters are responsible for the accuracy of the content they broadcast. Where information is material to the story being told, it must be accurate. This responsibility is never greater than when disseminating news.
In the broadcasts in question, the story was focussed on the sentencing of the pilot Miroslav Gronych, who was convicted for being under the influence of alcohol while in control of an aircraft. The broadcaster reported that the pilot had been banned from flying for two years, when the ban had actually been for one year. Given the focus of the story on the sentence, it is indisputable that the terms of the sentence are material facts. The Panel finds CITV-DT in breach of Clause 5 of the CAB Code of Ethics and Article 1.0 of the RTDNA Code of Journalistic Ethics.
Article 1.3 of the RTDNA Code of Journalistic Ethics requires that errors and inaccuracies that affect the understanding of news stories be corrected. CITV-DT broadcast such a correction on April 20. The Panel considers that the broadcaster has met its responsibilities under Article 1.3.
As has been the CBSC’s practice, the Panel finds that, because of the correction, the broadcaster has publicly acknowledged its errors and there is therefore no need for a further announcement of the breach finding.
In all CBSC decisions, the Panels assess the broadcaster’s response to the complainant. The broadcaster need not agree with the complainant’s position, but it must respond in a courteous, thoughtful and thorough manner. In this case, Global Edmonton provided a thorough reply to the complainant, acknowledging its error and highlighting the fact that it corrected the information in a subsequent broadcast. The broadcaster fulfilled its obligations of responsiveness and nothing further is required in this regard in this instance.
This decision is a public document upon its release by the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council.
 CITV-TV re You Paid For It! (Immigration) (CBSC Decision 95/96-0088, December 16, 1997); CITY-TV re CityPulse (Neighbourhood Drug Bust) (CBSC Decision 96/97-0216, February 20, 1998); TVA re J.E. (Entreprises Pendragon) (CBSC Decision 97/98-0390, August 14, 1998); CIII-TV (Global Ontario) re Global News reports (“Bluffs Danger”) (CBSC Decision 05/06-0500, May 18, 2006); CKWX-AM re news reports about SkyTrain (CBSC Decision 06/07-1127, August 19, 2008); CIVT-TV (CTV British Columbia) re reports on CTV News at 11:30 (“Seal Fur Uniforms” & “Oil Spill”) (CBSC Decision 08/09-1660, September 24, 2009); CTV News Channel re news reports (“Clashes Erupt in West Bank”) (CBSC Decision 12/13-1134, August 7, 2013)
 CIII-TV (Global Ontario) re a report on News Final (“Dual Protests”) (CBSC Decision 07/08-1677, October 22, 2008); CKCO-DT (CTV Kitchener) re a report on CTV News at Six (“Inappropriate Conversation”) (CBSC Decision 14/15-1508, April 7, 2016)
The CBSC received the following complaint on April 4, 2017:
Television or Radio Station: Television
Program Name: Global Edmonton
Date of Program: 2017/04/03
Time of Program: 5-5:30pm
Specific Concern: On Global News at 5, the anchor, which is Gord, said that Miroslav Gronych was barred for two years from flying in addition to 8 months in jail minus time already served for showing up to work drunk, but a CBC news story said that it was in fact 1 year ban from flying in addition to 8 months in jail minus time already served for showing up for work drunk. Global had also repeated the same thing on [the] Global News at 11 newscast in which the mistake was repeated, but the story was also aired on Global News Hour at 6, but the mistake wasn’t repeated on the Global News Hour at 6 newscast. The story was aired on Global Toronto & Global National newscast but these two tv stations didn’t make the same mistake as Global Edmonton.
Global responded to the complainant on May 1:
The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) has shared your concerns regarding a Global News at 5 segment on April 3, 2017.
Global News is dedicated to the reporting of accurate, balanced, timely and comprehensive news and information in the public interest. Our team strives to uphold the highest level of journalistic integrity and ethics at all times. Our Journalists are educated to make sound editorial decisions thoughtfully and with sensitivity, and to produce news content in accordance with community standards, the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ (CAB) Code of Ethics, the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) Canada Code of Journalistic Ethics and our own Global News Journalistic Principles & Practices (JPP).
Please accept our apologies for any confusion our report on the sentencing of a Sunwing Airlines pilot who pleaded guilty to being impaired while in the care and control of an aircraft may have caused. Be assured that the incorrect length of his flying suspension referenced during the news story in question was an inadvertent oversight and not meant to intentionally mislead our viewers in any way.
As required by the Accuracy clause within the RTDNA Code of Ethics, “errors and inaccuracy that affect the understanding of a news story will be unambiguously and promptly corrected”. After having received your correspondence, and conducting our internal investigation, an apology and correction for this story was broadcast on Friday, April 21 [sic, actually 20], 2017, during Global News at 5 and Global News at 11.
As members of the greater community, we want to thank you for taking the time to share your opinion with us. We sincerely value all comments and use them to ensure that we are meeting, with the goal of exceeding, our commitment to our audience. When we receive feedback from our viewers, we always strive to apply any learnings to future decisions and coverage. Your comments have been shared with all of those involved with the collection of the information related to this story and will continue to be taken into consideration during the on-going planning of our news stories. If you have any additional concerns or questions about our coverage please feel free to contact me directly, [name]@globalnews.ca or go to http://globalnews.ca/pages/contact-us.
The complainant filed his Ruling Request on May 5:
I would like to accept the station’s apology for the confusion made on April 3rd, 2017. I had received the response on Thursday the 4th of May and thank them for their response to my complaint as well as the correction made on both Global News at 5 & Global News at 11 newscasts on Friday, April 21st, 2017. I am requesting a ruling regarding this complaint because there was a previous ruling and complaint against this station in the past and I am concerned on how the station is going to ensure the accuracy of its news reports in all of its newscasts in the future. I also would like the CBSC to rule on the news report made on April 3rd on both Global News at 5 & Global News at 11 newscasts and also the correction made on Friday, April 21st, 2017 on both newscasts.