CKNO-FM re Crash & Mars

ENGLISH-LANGUAGE PANEL
CBSC Decision 17/18-0881
2018 CBSC 15
July 11, 2018
S. Courtemanche (Chair), C. Cowie, M. Galipeau, T. Kenney, K. Phillips, G. Spenrath

THE FACTS

Crash & Mars is the morning show on pop-rock music station CKNO-FM (NOW! Radio, Edmonton).  It is hosted by Crash and Mars and their co-host Ginge.  On January 24, 2018, just after 8:00 am, they were talking about “trashy wedding songs” and a video clip on social media of a bride leaving her wedding to the song “Crazy Bitch” by Buckcherry. Crash explained that Ginge was trying to edit out all the f-words in the song from the clip before broadcasting it.

Crash:  Everything. Ginge literally has pulled out, like, probably, 15, 20 f-bombs out of the song.

Mars:    Well, I think he’s frantically trying to get it.  And how are we lookin’ there?

Crash:  It’s, it’s almost –

Mars:    Oh, he’s got one second he says.

Crash:  It’s going to be happenin’ there.

[…]

Mars:    We got it!

Crash:  Ginge, how many edits would you say you just did on this one?

Ginge:  Well, I hope enough.  [all laugh]

Crash:  All right.

Mars:    Oh my god.

Crash:  Here it is.  Here’s your trashy wedding song.  Buckcherry, “Crazy Bitch”.

They then played the song. They edited out the majority of the instances of the word “fuck”, but left two in.  The lyrics were therefore as follows:

All right!

Break me down, you got a lovely face

We’re going to your place

And now you got to freak me out

Scream so loud, getting [muted word]in’ laid

You want me to stay, but I got to make my way

Hey!  You’re a crazy bitch

But you [muted word] so good, I’m on top of it

When I dream, I’m doing you all night

Scratches all down my back to keep me right on

Hey!  You’re a crazy bitch

But you [muted word] so good, I’m on top of it

When I dream, I’m doing you all night

Scratches all down my back to keep me right on

Take it off, the paper is your game

You jump in bed with fame

Another one night paid in full, uh

You’re so fine, it won’t be a loss

Cashing in the rocks, just to get you face to face

Hey!  You’re a crazy bitch

But you [muted word] so good, I’m on top of it

When I dream, I’m doing you all night

Scratches all down my back to keep me right on

Hey!  You’re a crazy bitch

But you [muted word] so good, I’m on top of it

When I dream, I’m doing you all night

Scratches all down my back to keep me right on

Get the video

Fuck you so good

Get the video

Fuck you so good

Crazy bitch

Crazy bitch

Crazy … bitch

Hey!  You’re a crazy bitch

But you [muted word] so good, I’m on top of it

When I dream, I’m doing you all night

Scratches all down my back to keep me right on

Hey!  You’re a crazy bitch

But you [muted word] so good, I’m on top of it

When I dream, I’m doing you all night

Scratches all down my back, come on

Baby girl

You want it all

To be a star

You’ll have to go down

Take it off

No need to talk

You’re crazy but I like the way you [muted word] me

Hey!  You’re a crazy bitch

But you [muted word] so good, I’m on top of it

When I dream, I’m doing you all night

Scratches all down my back to keep me right on

Hey!  You’re a crazy bitch

But you [muted word] so good, I’m on top of it

When I dream, I’m doing you all night

Scratches all down my back to keep me right on

You keep me right on

You’re crazy

But I like the way you [muted word] me

The hosts laughed and applauded, and then had the following conversation about Ginge’s editing efforts:

Mars: I think you missed two.

Crash: Ninety percent.  Ninety percent.

Ginge: Oh yeah, eighty percent of the [all laugh].  I was in a hurry.

Crash: To [?] the NOW family, Ginge literally did the, all the edits on that within, what?  Like, two and half minutes?

Ginge: Yeah, it was close.

Mars: Oh yeah, you were fast.

Ginge: It was close.

Crash: Right before we’re NOW wowing, I’m like, “Ginge, how ʼbout this Buckcherry, ‘Crazy Bitch’?”  He’s like, “Oh my god, there’s a bunch of f-bombs in it!”

Mars: [laughs] And as we’re listening to it, all of us, our butts are clenched.

Crash: Oh!

Mars: And then there were two.  They sounded like “rock”, though, so I think you’re okay.

Ginge: “Check the video.  Rock me so good”.

Mars & Crash: Rock me so good.

Crash: That’s what it was.

Ginge: Yeah.

Crash: That’s what everyone heard.

Mars: The NOW family’s tallying.  They’re, like, “Oop, missed a couple there, Ginge.”  [all laugh]  Sorry.

Crash: Ah, that’s good, that’s good.

Mars: That’s all right, though.  That was good, that was good.

(A complete transcript of the segment is in Appendix A.)

The CBSC received a complaint on January 24 about the song.  The complainant was primarily concerned about the word “bitch” in the song.  She noted that they made an effort to censor all the f-words, but left “bitch” in.  She concluded her message with “I don’t want my children to hear this on what I thought was clean radio, as children repeat everything they hear.”

The station responded to the complainant on January 25.  It apologized for offending the listener, but pointed out that, even though the song is not in the station’s regular playlist, it was relevant to the topic of trashy weddings.

The complainant filed her Ruling Request on January 29.  She suggested that the broadcast violated Clause 9 of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ (CAB) Code of Ethics regarding radio broadcasting.  She questioned whether the word “bitch” is considered unduly coarse and offensive and added that, although clearly not a children’s program, this station’s morning show is usually family-friendly.

On May 9, the station sent further information directly to the CBSC.  CKNO-FM explained that the song is not in its regular music library, but was broadcast because it was related to the topic the morning show hosts were discussing that day.  The station also explained that the producer rushed to edit out all f-words before airing, but missed two.  The producer and hosts were made aware of the complaint and “all agreed there is nothing that so urgently needs to get on air that we need to risk any possible violation of the CAB Code of Ethics.”  (The full text of all correspondence is in Appendix B.)

THE DECISION

The English-Language Panel examined the complaint under Clause 9(c) – Radio Broadcasting of the CAB Code of Ethics:

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:

[…]

c) Unduly coarse and offensive language.

The Panel Adjudicators read all of the correspondence and listened to a recording of the challenged broadcast.  The Panel concludes that CKNO-FM breached Clause 9(c) for broadcasting the f-word unedited during morning programming.

The question put to the panel was:

Did CKNO-FM breach Clause 9(c) of the CAB Code of Ethics by airing the song “Crazy Bitch” which uses the word “bitch” repeatedly and, for failing to edit the use of the f-word twice?

The CBSC has a precedent decision about the song “Crazy Bitch” where it found that use of the word “bitch” during the day did not breach the CAB Code of Ethics.  The Panel in that matter also did not have a problem with the sexual allusions or the overall theme of the song.  As long as the f-word was edited out, the song could be played at any time of day[1]

The Panel agrees that the use of the word “bitch”, even repeatedly as in this song, does not constitute a breach of the CAB Code of Ethics. The song may not be in the best taste, but the CBSC has long stated that questions of taste are best regulated through the on/off switch.

In their rush to get the song on air, the hosts left two instances of the f-word in the version of the song that was broadcast on the station.  The hosts recognized that they had missed the f-word twice and even made light of it.  The omission was treated with laughter and they simply said “Sorry” at the end of the segment.

On the matter of the use of the f-word or its variations in songs, the CBSC has consistently stated that such language constitutes a breach of the CAB Code of Ethics when broadcast during daytime and early evening hours.[2]

Often record companies make more than one version of songs available to avoid such issues.  The hosts themselves recognized that playing the song would be a problem if the f-word was not omitted.  Although the Panel understands that the hosts wanted to react in real time to the subject of the day, there was a lack of diligence on the hosts’ part and, as a result, the song was aired with the f-word twice. Consequently, the Panel finds that the station was in breach of the CAB Code of Ethics.

The Panel also believes that the apology which consisted merely of “Sorry” in the midst of laughter was not sufficient.  The hosts did have an opportunity to express a better apology and did not do so.

Broadcaster Responsiveness

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, CKNO-FM, in its responses, met its obligation to respond adequately to the complaint.  The broadcaster fulfilled its obligations of responsiveness and, subject to the announcement of this decision, nothing further is required on this occasion.

DECISION ANNOUNCEMENT

CKNO-FM is required to:  1) announce the decision, in the following terms, once during peak listening hours within three days following the release of this decision and once more within seven days following the release of this decision during the time period in which Crash & Marswas broadcast, but not on the same day as the first mandated announcement; 2) within the fourteen days following the broadcasts of the announcements, to provide written confirmation of the airing of the statement to the complainant who filed the Ruling Request; and 3) at that time, to provide the CBSC with a copy of that written confirmation and with air check copies of the broadcasts of the two announcements which must be made by CKNO-FM.

The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council has found that CKNO-FM (NOW! Radio) breached the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ Code of Ethics in a broadcast of the Crash & Marsshow on January 24, 2018.  The station broadcast a song containing the f-word during a morning radio show, which is contrary to Clause 9 of the code.

This decision is a public document upon its release by the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council.

[1] CKQB-FM re the song “Crazy Bitch” by Buckcherry (CBSC Decision 10/11-1169, September 22, 2011).

[2] CIOX-FM re the songs “Livin’ It Up” Bizkit and “Outside” by Aaron Lewis and Fred Durst (CBSC Decision 00/01-0670, June 28, 2001); CJKR-FM re the song “Highway Girl (Live)” by the The Tragically Hip (CBSC Decision 00/01-0832, January 14, 2002); CHOM-FM re the song “Locked in the Trunk of a Car” by The Tragically Hip (CBSC Decision 04/05-0324, April 4, 2005); CJDJ-FM re the song “Load Me Up” by Matthew Good Band (CBSC Decision 06/07-1118, May 12, 2008).

APPENDIX A

Crash & Mars is the morning show on pop-rock music station CKNO-FM (NOW! Radio, Edmonton).  It is hosted by Crash and Mars and their co-host Ginge.  On January 24, 2018, just after 8:00 am, they broadcast the following:

– commercial break

Crash:  Okay, I don’t think we’re gonna have that, uh, original one ready.

Mars:    He’s lookin’ like he might have it ready.

Crash:  Is it even being loaded yet or are you still takin’ out f-bombs?  [Mars laughs] We’re looking for a trashy wedding song, uh, and people were texting in the, uh, the video of Buckcherry and “Crazy Bitch”.  A lady’s walking down, uh, the aisle to it.  She’s leaving her wedding and families are covering their kids’ ears because –

Mars:    Is she singing it?

Crash:  Uh, every, yeah, some people are singing it and it, it’s not an edited version.

Mars:    Oh, which is –

Crash:  Everything.  Ginge literally has pulled out, like, probably, 15, 20 f-bombs out of the song.

Mars:    Well, I think he’s frantically trying to get it. And how are we lookin’ there?

Crash:  It’s, it’s almost –

Mars:    Oh, he’s got one second he says.

Crash:  It’s going to be happenin’ there.

Mars:    Okay.  Well, you know what?  Here, I’m going to do this.  Uh, I’m going to read you guys a couple of texts while Ginge loads this.

Crash:  Mm hm.

Mars:    We’re talking about the trashiest weddings. This one here says “An old friend of mine brought her date.  Some d-bag who ended up trying to get our guests, including my cousin, to go work at Diamonds after the wedding as strippers.”

Crash:  Go work at Diamonds?!  [chuckles]

Mars:    “Seriously.  He was handing out cards.  And he was all over our friend’s wife grinding up on her, telling her she’d be an awesome stripper.  And that if she wanted a job at Diamonds he could hook her up.”

Crash:  Oh, come on!

Mars:    Yeah, well, when the Diamonds’, you know, recruit comes in [Crash & Mars laugh].

Crash:  ʼKay, so we, uh, we got this, uh, song.

Mars:    We got it!

Crash:  Ginge, how many edits would you say you just did on this one?

Ginge:  Well, I hope enough.  [all laugh]

Crash:  All right.

Mars:    Oh my god.

Crash:  Here it is.  Here’s your trashy wedding song.  Buckcherry, “Crazy Bitch”.

[song plays; lyrics are as follows]

All right!

Break me down, you got a lovely face

We’re going to your place

And now you got to freak me out

Scream so loud, getting [muted word]in’ laid

You want me to stay, but I got to make my way

Hey!  You’re a crazy bitch

But you [muted word] so good, I’m on top of it

When I dream, I’m doing you all night

Scratches all down my back to keep me right on

Hey!  You’re a crazy bitch

But you [muted word] so good, I’m on top of it

When I dream, I’m doing you all night

Scratches all down my back to keep me right on

Take it off, the paper is your game

You jump in bed with fame

Another one night paid in full, uh

You’re so fine, it won’t be a loss

Cashing in the rocks, just to get you face to face

Hey!  You’re a crazy bitch

But you [muted word] so good, I’m on top of it

When I dream, I’m doing you all night

Scratches all down my back to keep me right on

Hey!  You’re a crazy bitch

But you [muted word] so good, I’m on top of it

When I dream, I’m doing you all night

Scratches all down my back to keep me right on

Get the video

Fuck you so good

Get the video

Fuck you so good

Crazy bitch

Crazy bitch

Crazy … bitch

Hey!  You’re a crazy bitch

But you [muted word] so good, I’m on top of it

When I dream, I’m doing you all night

Scratches all down my back to keep me right on

Hey!  You’re a crazy bitch

But you [muted word] so good, I’m on top of it

When I dream, I’m doing you all night

Scratches all down my back, come on

Baby girl

You want it all

To be a star

You’ll have to go down

Take it off

No need to talk

You’re crazy but I like the way you [muted word] me

Hey!  You’re a crazy bitch

But you [muted word] so good, I’m on top of it

When I dream, I’m doing you all night

Scratches all down my back to keep me right on

Hey!  You’re a crazy bitch

But you [muted word] so good, I’m on top of it

When I dream, I’m doing you all night

Scratches all down my back to keep me right on

You keep me right on

You’re crazy

But I like the way you [muted word] me

[applause & laughter]

Mars:    I think you missed two.

Crash:  Ninety percent.  Ninety percent.

Ginge:  Oh yeah, eighty percent of the [all laugh]. I was in a hurry.

Crash:  To [?] the NOW family, Ginge literally did the, all the edits on that within, what?  Like, two and half minutes?

Ginge:  Yeah, it was close.

Mars:    Oh yeah, you were fast.

Ginge:  It was close.

Crash:  Right before we’re NOW wowing, I’m like, “Ginge, how ʼbout this Buckcherry, ‘Crazy Bitch’?”  He’s like, “Oh my god, there’s a bunch of f-bombs in it!”

Mars:    [laughs] And as we’re listening to it, all of us, our butts are clenched.

Crash:  Oh!

Mars:    And then there were two.  They sounded like “rock”, though, so I think you’re okay.

Ginge:  “Check the video.  Rock me so good”.

Mars & Crash:   Rock me so good.

Crash:  That’s what it was.

Ginge:  Yeah.

Crash:  That’s what everyone heard.

Mars:    The NOW family’s tallying.  They’re, like, “Oop, missed a couple there, Ginge.” [all laugh]  Sorry.

Crash:  Ah, that’s good, that’s good.

Mars:    That’s all right, though.  That was good, that was good.

APPENDIX B

The Complaint

The following complaint was submitted via the CBSC’s webform on January 24, 2018:

Television or Radio Station:        102.3 Now! Radio

Program Name:               The Crash and Mars Show

Date of Program:             2018/01/24

Time of Program:            8:00 am

Specific Concern:    Playing a song that has the word B*tch in it several times and also saying the word b*tch.  They bothered to censor all the F bombs (which is great) but none of the B-words. Is this word no longer a censored word? I don’t want my children to hear this on what I thought was clean radio, as children repeat everything they hear.

Broadcaster Response

The station responded on January 25:

Thank you for taking the time to share your concerns about content that was aired by the Crash and Mars show on January 24th, 2018.

I am sorry if we have offended you.  The Jim Pattison Broadcast Group strives to provide quality programming that all listeners can enjoy.

I have reviewed the audio from the show and topic you referenced. Specifically, your concern was about the airing of the song “Crazy B*itch” by the group Buckcherry.  This song is not regularly on the station’s playlist but was tied to their topic about trashy weddings.  Specifically, they shared a story about a bride who used this song as her “exit theme” from her own wedding and how guests were stunned by this unusual choice.

We do not believe the content aired was in violation of the CBSC code.

Thanks for sharing your feedback. I am more than willing to discuss this further if you wish.

Additional Correspondence

The complainant filed her Ruling Request on January 29:

Thank you for your response.

In the station’s response, they only discussed the fact that they played a song that included swears, that’s not normally in their normal circulation of music, as it was in relation to their topic of discussion.  I understand this, however, both of the DJs were saying b*tch several times when they were discussing the topic in relation to them playing this song.  I do not think they were within CBSC code, as it indicates:

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:

(a) Gratuitous violence in any form, or otherwise sanction, promote or glamorize violence;

(b) Unduly sexually explicit material; and/or

(c) Unduly coarse and offensive language.

Are they saying that that word, which was repeated several times, is not considered unduly coarse, and offensive language anymore these days?

I understand that this is not a children’s program, but it is a family program that airs on a public wavelength, and therefore should fall within the clause noted above.

I am not intending to stir the pot, I just wish to help make our public radio stations a bit more family friendly, and follow the public guidelines that are set in place for reasons exactly as this.

Thank you for your time.

The CBSC informed the station that this complaint would be adjudicated and offered them an opportunity to add any final comments to the file.  CKNO-FM sent the following letter on May 9:

I received your email from yesterday regarding CBSC ref. 20.1718-0881.1 and the response we sent the complainant, [C. H.].

We acknowledge that two instances of the f-word were accidentally left in the version of the song “Crazy Bitch”, which aired on CKNO-FM on January 24th, 2018.  As the complainant did not mention any airing of the f-word, we did not mention this in our reply.

The song “Crazy Bitch” is not in our regular music library on CKNO.  As the song was specifically tied to the content the morning show was talking about, the show producer rushed to find the song and then edit out all the f-words before airing.  Unfortunately, in his hurry to get the song to air, the producer missed editing out two of the f-words.

After we became aware of this incident, I spoke to the Program Director, the morning hosts and the show producer to ensure that a mistake of this nature would not happen again.  We all agreed there is nothing that so urgently needs to get on air that we need to risk any possible violation of theCAB Code of Ethics.