Comments about Redheads Did Not Violate Code, Says Canadian Broadcast Standards Council

Ottawa, April 20, 2012 – The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning comments made about redheads broadcast on CFEX-FM (X92.9 FM, Calgary).  The CBSC found that a host’s comments about phasing out male redheads did not violate the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ (CAB) Code of Ethics.

On October 2, 2011, a radio host talked about a news report that a sperm bank was not accepting any more redheaded donors.  He stated that, although he found redheaded women attractive, male redheads “freak me out” and “if we could phase out all the male, male gingers, that would be great.”  He also named a few male celebrity redheads that one could “get rid of”.

The CBSC received a complaint from a listener who felt that the comments were unacceptable because they targeted a specific group.  The station suggested that the comments were not intended as an attack on anyone.

The CBSC’s Prairie Regional Panel examined the complaint under the CAB Code of Ethics.  It noted that hair colour is not a category of identifiable groups under the Human Rights clause of the Code, but that it could nevertheless examine the complaint under the clause that requires the fair and proper presentation of opinion.  While the Panel acknowledged that it was in poor taste to disparage any group on the airwaves, it concluded that there was no breach of the Code because the comments “were not said in a particularly harsh, nasty or mean-spirited way.”

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 750 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 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