Fair and Balanced Treatment of Student Protest in Public Affairs Show, Says Canadian Broadcast Standards Council

Ottawa, April 25, 2012 – The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning an interview on V’s public affairs program Face à face.  The two hosts of the program interviewed a spokesperson from one of the student groups involved in the student protests in Quebec.  The CBSC concluded that the broadcast did not violate any broadcast codes.

The two hosts of Face à face, Stéphane Gendron and Caroline Proulx, interviewed the spokesperson from Coalition large de l’Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante (CLASSE), Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, on March 22, 2012.  Nadeau-Dubois explained his group’s opposition to the Quebec government’s decision to raise tuition fees for college and university students.  Gendron and Proulx stated their disagreement with his position and challenged Nadeau-Dubois on his views.

The CBSC received a total of 914 complaints about the broadcast, mostly due to a campaign launched on social media websites.  The complainants alleged that the hosts had been disrespectful towards Nadeau-Dubois because they continually interrupted him and made disparaging comments about the student movement.  V pointed out that the program is designed to generate discussion and debate.

The CBSC’s Quebec Regional Panel examined the complaints under Clauses 6 and 7 of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ (CAB) Code of Ethics.  Clause 6 requires the full, fair and proper presentation of all comments and opinions, and Clause 7 requires a balanced presentation of controversial public issues.  The Panel found no violations of those clauses because the hosts were entitled to state their opinions on the subject of the student protests and they gave Nadeau-Dubois the opportunity to state his views.  Indeed, it was Nadeau-Dubois who frequently interrupted the hosts before they had formulated their questions.  Although the hosts demonstrated some impatience towards Nadeau-Dubois, they were not aggressive or insulting towards him.

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