Harsh Insults toward Program Guest in Breach of Broadcast Code, Says Canadian Broadcast Standards Council

Ottawa, March 15, 2006 – The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning an interview on Bouchard en parle broadcast by CJMF-FM (le 93.3, Quebec City) on July 26, 2005.  During the broadcast, the host of the morning show insulted his guest.  The CBSC’s Quebec Regional Panel concluded that the broadcast had violated the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ (CAB) Code of Ethics.

Spurred by a Media Release sent by the Quebec Association of Friends of Cuba announcing the festivities in celebration of Cuban National Day, the host of the morning show, Sylvain Bouchard, conducted a telephone interview with its Vice-President.  Bouchard challenged his guest on a number of Cuba’s political policies.  A heated debate ensued, with the guest making some negative personal comments about Bouchard, who responded by calling his guest a [translation] “dirty bastard”. 

A listener disapproved of the host’s treatment of the guest and complained to the CBSC.  The Quebec Regional Panel examined the complaint and concluded that, while Bouchard was entitled to broadcast his criticisms of Cuba’s government and political system, his personal attacks against his guest had gone too far.  It made the following comments:

Bouchard’s questions were frequently more than rhetorical; they were sarcastic, even barbed.  Even so, the guest did have the opportunity to respond to most of these challenges, even if from a disadvantaged position.  In the context of the type of show Bouchard en parle is, the Panel has no difficulty with the host’s personal biased perspective on Cuban policy in those areas.

[…]

[Program hosts] ought to be able to so moderate their method, style, tone and language that they will not succumb to even the poor exercise of those very skills on the part of a caller or callers.  Even if [the guest] intended to even the score with the host […], Bouchard overreacted.  He called his interviewee a “chien sale” and added variations on that theme on several occasions.

[…]

On the issue of the use of the term “dirty bastard” and its variations, the Panel finds the broadcaster in breach of Clause 6 of the CAB Code of Ethics.

Canada’s private broadcasters have themselves created industry standards in the form of Codes on ethics, gender portrayal and television violence 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 practices first created by the Radio Television News Directors Association of Canada (RTNDA) in 1970.  More than 590 radio and 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