Coarse Language Should Not Be Broadcast Before 9:00 pm, Says Canadian Broadcast Standards Council

Ottawa, January 13, 2016 – The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning coarse language in La Voix broadcast on CHOT-DT (Gatineau, Quebec) on January 15, 2015 at 7:30 pm.  The CBSC concluded that the broadcast violated the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ (CAB) Code of Ethics because it contained unedited coarse language before the watershed hour and no viewer advisories.

La Voix is a singing competition program featuring “coaches” from the Quebec music industry who choose singers to form their “teams”. The singers are chosen based on their voices alone; the coaches do not see the contestants before selecting them.  On the January 15 episode, there were three instances of coarse language.  The coaches used the words “tabarnac’” and “ʼostie” when commenting on the singers’ performances.  A viewer complained that this language was not appropriate during a program at 7:30 pm which is watched by families with young children.  He emphasized that the program was not live, so the coarse language could easily have been edited out prior to broadcast.

CHOT, which is owned by RNC Media, explained that the program originated with the TVA network. CHOT broadcast La Voix as part of its network affiliation agreement with TVA and, as per the terms of that agreement, was not allowed to modify the program in any way.

The CBSC’s Quebec Regional Panel concluded that the broadcast violated Clause 10 of the CAB Code of Ethics which requires that coarse language intended for adults only be broadcast after 9:00 pm (and before 6:00 am).  The broadcast also breached Clause 11 of that code because it did not contain any viewer advisories.

The Panel acknowledged the conundrum caused by the network affiliation agreement: under the Broadcasting Act and related regulations, individual stations are responsible for all material that they air, but, at the same time the affiliation agreements prevent them from modifying network programming.  The Panel suggested that “in future, complaints concerning network programs might better be handled directly by the network and not the affiliated stations.”

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 900 radio stations, satellite radio services, television stations and specialty and pay television services across Canada are members of the Council.

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All CBSC decisions, Codes, links to associates’ 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 Chair, Andrée Noël, at anoel@cbsc.ca or CBSC Executive Director, John MacNab, at jmacnab@cbsc.ca or by telephone at (613) 233-4607.