Contest Segment Did Not Promote Violence against Animals, Says Canadian Broadcast Standards Council

Ottawa, April 3, 2012 – The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning a conversation that occurred as part of the “Evil that People Do” contest on The Biggs & Barr Show on CHTZ-FM (97.7 Htz FM, St. Catharine’s, Ontario).  The CBSC concluded that a story about feeding hits of acid to a cat did not violate the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ (CAB) Code of Ethics or Violence Code.

“The Evil that People Do” contest is a recurring segment on Htz FM’s morning show.  Listeners call in to tell stories about mean things they have done and the hosts award a prize to the “best” one.  On August 26, 2011 a caller named Bob told a story about how he fed hits of acid to his neighbour’s cat as an act of revenge for something he thought the neighbour had done.  He noted that he had done this when he was “younger and foolish”.  The hosts and caller laughed about the situation, but the caller said that the cat had been unharmed.  The hosts also repeatedly stated that they did not condone hurting animals and they did not award the prize to this caller.

A listener complained to the CBSC that the conversation promoted cruelty to animals.  The station argued that the hosts had not condoned the act and had not awarded the prize to the caller.  The CBSC’s Ontario Regional Panel examined the complaint under Clause 9(a) of the CAB Code of Ethics which prohibits the promotion, sanction or glamorization of violence on radio, and Article 9.1 of the CAB Violence Code which makes that same prohibition with specific reference to animals.  The Panel found no breach of those Code provisions because the hosts did not condone the actions and did not award the prize to that caller.

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