CFTR-AM re “Guess The Whoopie” Contest

ONTARIO REGIONAL COUNCIL

DECISION CONCERNING CFTR-AM TORONTO’S “GUESS THE WHOOPEE” CONTEST OF OCTOBER 21, 1991

FACTS OF THE CASE

The “Guess the Whoopee” contest aired on October 21, 1991 at approximately 8:15 a.m., involves the host calling a teenager, who is asked to guess “the last time his/her parents made whoopee”. The teenager's parent is then called and asked the same question. If the teenager has guessed correctly, both the teenager and the parent win a prize.

The CRTC received a complaint dated October 22, 1991 regarding the above program, and referred it to the CBSC for resolution on November 6, 1991. The complainant found the contest to be offensive and inappropriate listening material for families, and that “it set up parents to be humiliated in a sick way”. She considered that the contest crossed the line of good taste.

The complainant's letter was referred by the CBSC to the broadcaster for reply.

The broadcaster's response stated in part that “the program is a regular feature on morning radio programs all over North America. CFTR airs it on a sporadic basis; this feature is pre-taped, and aired only after receiving approval, from participants”. The broadcaster also stated that they believe discussing certain topics between teens and parents openly is positive and productive, and that the feature is monitored closely.

On December 10, 1991, the CBSC received the complainant's request that the matter be referred to the Ontario Regional Council for resolution, as she was not satisfied with the broadcaster's reply. The Ontario Council met on February 6, 1992 to consider the complaint.

It was determined by the CBSC Secretariat that the complaint could be considered under the following Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB) Codes, administered by the CBSC.

(i) Sex-Role Portrayal Code for Radio and Television, Clause 4 – Exploitation
Television and radio programming shall refrain from exploitation of women, men and children. Negative or degrading comments on the role and nature of women, men or children in society shall be avoided. Modes of dress, camera focus on areas of the body and similar modes of portrayal should not be degrading to either sex. The sexualization of children through dress or behaviour is not acceptable.

(ii) Code of Ethics, Clause 11 (b) – Radio Station Contests and Promotions
All station contests and promotions should be conceived and conducted in good taste, and particular care should be taken to ensure that they are not likely to give rise to a public inconvenience or disturbance.

CBSC DECISION

Sex Role Portrayal Code, Clause 4.

The Ontario Council analyzed the contents of the programming and the specific issues raised by the complainant as they might relate to this Code. The Council determined that the program did not contain “negative or degrading comments on the role and nature of women, men or children in society”. Thus, it was the Council's conclusion that this Code had not been contravened.

Code of Ethics Cause 11 (b).

The Ontario Council judged the programming under consideration in the context of “good taste”. In the Council's view, the definition of “good taste” is not rigidly defined. It could, and does, vary according to the perception of the individual. The Council's benchmark can only be that of generally acceptable community standards. In this light, the Council determined that the content of the program was not contrary to good taste given the context in which it was presented and measured against general community standards. It was the Council's conclusion that this Code had not been contravened.

As the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council's Ontario Regional Council found that the broadcaster had not contravened either of the above codes, the broadcaster has the option of broadcasting the decision. The decision will be released to the Ontario media.