Comments Made By Radio Host Promoted Violence Against Women, Says Canadian Broadcast Standards Council

Ottawa, October 30, 2002 – The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning an episode of the radio program Champagne pour tout le monde broadcast on CKRS-AM (Chicoutimi).  The CBSC Québec Regional Panel concluded that host Louis Champagne’s remarks that “some women need a slap in the face” (translation) were in breach of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB) Code provisions concerning human rights, sex-role stereotyping and violence against women.

Champagne’s remarks were made during a conversation with his co-host Brigitte Simard.  During the entertainment news segment of the program, Simard informed listeners that singer Whitney Houston had separated from her husband after a history of physical abuse.  Champagne responded that Houston “liked to be beaten.”  When Simard attempted to change the subject, Champagne repeatedly insisted that “some women need a slap in the face.”  A listener complained that these were hateful remarks and requested that the CBSC examine the matter.  He also forwarded a letter of support from a women’s group.  The broadcaster explained in a letter that Champagne was using sarcasm to denounce the cycle of violence that becomes common-place in some women’s lives and that he in no way intended to encourage or endorse violence against women.  The Quebec Panel rejected this proffered justification and found the broadcaster in breach of both the CAB Code of Ethics and the CAB Violence Code:

[A]sserting that “a smack in the face is a good thing, eh?” and, undaunted by his co-host’s attempt to exit the dialogue, his repetition that “She needs a smack in the face; there are those [women] who need that” is outrageous.   The argument that the host did not intend to say this, or that he was being provocative, engaging or sarcastic, holds no water.  There is simply no justification for supporting the idea of wife-beating on the airwaves.  In the terms used by the CRTC in its CKVU-TV decision, it is not debatable. 

The Panel also stated that the comments were “outrageous” and that “[f]reedom of expression is not a broad enough concept for Canada’s private broadcasters to include such dangerous comments.”

Canada’s private broadcasters have themselves created industry standards in the form of Codes on ethics, gender portrayal and television violence by which they expect the members of their profession will abide.  In 1990, they also created the CBSC, which is the self-regulatory body with the responsibility of administering those professional broadcast Codes, as well as the Code dealing with journalistic practices first created by the Radio Television News Directors Association of Canada (RTNDA) in 1970.  More than 520 radio and television stations and specialty services from 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