Explicit Sexual Discussions, Coarse Language and Abusive Comments Violated Code of Ethics, Says Canadian Broadcast Standards Council

Ottawa, May 13, 2008 – The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning six October 2006 episodes of the former open-line talk show Doc Mailloux which aired on CKAC (Montreal).  On the talk show (then broadcast from 1:00 to 4:00 pm weekdays), the hosts and callers discussed topics related to psychology, sociology and similar disciplines.

Due to the nature of the program and its focus on human relationships, issues of sexuality frequently entered into the conversations.  Callers talked about their sex lives or sexual abuses they had suffered in the past.  Host Mailloux frequently encouraged extremely detailed descriptions of these encounters.  The Panel found that this content violated Clause 9(b) of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ (CAB) Code of Ethics, which prohibits sexually explicit dialogue on radio at times of day when children could be listening.  The Panel pointed out that “it is the time of day, and not the sexual substance of the discussion, that is at issue.”

The host also frequently used words that are commonly considered coarse.  The Quebec Panel found in particular, that the use of the English f-word and francized versions of it, as well as French religious epithets contravened Clause 9(c) of the CAB Code of Ethics, which prohibits airing such language at times of day when children could be listening.

A third recurring problem with the challenged episodes was the host’s comments about both men and women.  He consistently described women in abusive and degrading terms and made corresponding generalizations.  He also used disdainful and degrading language about any male who was attentive or willing to care for children.  The Panel found that the cumulative effect of such comments constituted breaches of both the Human Rights Clause of the CAB Code of Ethics and the article of the CAB Sex-Role Portrayal Code prohibiting degrading comments made on the basis of gender.

Mailloux was also abusive towards different racial or ethnic groups, including Maghrebins, Arabs, Central Americans, African Blacks, Russians and Japanese.  The Panel noted that these comments were clearly in violation of Clause 2 of the CAB Code of Ethics, which prohibits abusive or unduly discriminatory comments on the basis of race, colour, and national or ethnic origin.

The CBSC acknowledged that, although the aforementioned breaches had been recurring problems on Doc Mailloux, CKAC’s parent company Corus Entertainment had implemented strong measures to prevent such problems in future and that Doc Mailloux was no longer on the air.

Canada’s private broadcasters have themselves created industry standards in the form of Codes on ethics, equitable portrayal, television violence and journalistic independence 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 ethics created by the RTNDA – Association of Electronic Journalists.  More than 630 radio stations, satellite radio services, 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