Criticisms of Police Are Acceptable, but Coarse Language Is Not, Says Canadian Broadcast Standards Council

Ottawa, May 14, 2014 – The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning Dupont le midi, a radio talk show broadcast on CHOI-FM (Radio X, Quebec City).  The hosts of the program criticized the local police force.  The CBSC concluded that the criticisms were fair commentary under the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ (CAB) Code of Ethics.  The CBSC did, however, find that the station violated that code for its broadcast of coarse language during daytime hours.

In May 2013, on a few occasions, the hosts of Dupont le midi discussed recent events involving the Service de police de la Ville de Québec (SPVQ).  In the first instance, the host, Stéphane Dupont, criticized police management for their reaction to a bomb scare at a flea market.  He characterized them as good for nothing “assholes” who could not do their jobs and claimed they were standing around telling jokes and trying to impress women.  He repeatedly emphasized that he was referring to the supervisors and not to the average patrollers.  On other episodes, the hosts talked about the slow police response to a robbery at a local business and what they viewed as the police’s overreaction to a call regarding a weapon, which turned out to be an umbrella.

The CBSC received a complaint from the SPVQ who was concerned that the comments tarnished its reputation.  The station and the SPVQ came to an agreement whereby Dupont made an on-air apology, but the SPVQ was dissatisfied because CHOI-FM did not broadcast the apology at the prescribed time.

The CBSC’s Quebec Regional Panel concluded that the comments about the police were neither unfair nor improper under Clause 6 of the CAB Code of Ethics because hosts are allowed to criticize authorities, Dupont made it clear he was talking only about the police supervisors rather than the entire force, and his co-hosts provided counter-balance to some of his opinions.  The Panel did find a breach of Clause 9(c) of the code because Dupont used coarse words, such as “chrisse”, “sacrement” and “fuck” during daytime hours.

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 800 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