Negative Generalizations about Ethnic Group Violate Codes,
Says Canadian Broadcast Standards Council
Ottawa, September 9, 2013 - The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning comments made about “Gypsies” on Sun News Network. During his program The Source, Ezra Levant made negative comments about that ethnic group. The CBSC found the broadcast in violation of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ (CAB) Code of Ethics and Equitable Portrayal Code.
The Source is a public affairs program on which host Ezra Levant offers his opinions on current events. His opening monologue on the September 5, 2012 episode was about the arrests of a number of individuals involved in a theft ring, all of whom appeared to be of “Gypsy” ethnicity. Levant made numerous comments, alleging that all Gypsies are criminals because it is part of their culture.
The CBSC received a number of complaints about the broadcast. Sun News Network responded to the complainants, agreeing that the comments should not have been aired and noting that the station had aired a statement to that effect a few weeks following the broadcast. Levant himself apologized for the remarks on an episode of his show in March 2013.
The CBSC’s National Specialty Services Panel found that the comments violated Clause 2 of the CAB Code of Ethics and Equitable Portrayal Code (EPC) because they were abusive and unduly discriminatory against an ethnic group, and violated other provisions of the EPC regarding negative portrayal, stereotyping, stigmatization and degradation. The Panel did not, however, find that the mere use of the term “Gypsy” violated the EPC because it is not inherently pejorative.
The CBSC did not require Sun News to announce its findings on air (as it usually does when broadcasters violate a code) because Sun had already broadcast two separate apologies.
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 760 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