Humour that Sexualizes Children is Unacceptable, Says Canadian Broadcast Standards Council

Ottawa, October 27, 2011 – The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning an episode of the Conventioneers broadcast on BITE TV.  The program follows two hosts as they attend various conventions and trade shows.  They interview people working at and attending the conventions and make comedic remarks about what they see.  In one episode, they interviewed children at a holiday décor show; in post-production they dubbed sexual comments over top of the real dialogue that had occurred.  The CBSC concluded that this episode violated the prohibition against the sexualization of children contained in the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ (CAB) Equitable Portrayal Code.

In the Christmas special episode of the Conventioneers, one host was dressed as Santa Claus and interviewed children and adults who were attending the Holiday Entertaining and Décor Show.  In post-production, the dialogue that had actually taken place between the host and the interviewees was replaced with sexual comments for apparently comedic effect.  For example, to one little girl, the host was heard saying “What do you want for Christmas, you little cunt?” and then “You wanna stick a penis in your vagina?”  He also referred to a little boy as a “little fuck” and told another group of children, “Sit there, don’t move or we are gonna rape your ass”.  There were other similar comments dubbed into the program, as well as sexual comments dubbed into conversations with adults.  The program aired at 4:00 pm Eastern Time with a sole viewer advisory at the beginning of the broadcast.

A viewer complained about the content of the program.  The station indicated that it pulled the episode from its schedule following receipt of the complaint.  The CBSC’s National Specialty Services Panel had no hesitation in finding the broadcast in violation of Article 8(b) of the CAB Equitable Portrayal Code:  “[the comments] are individually and collectively in breach of Article 8(b) of the CAB Equitable Portrayal Code.  It should also be remembered that the sexualization of children is not an issue that would benefit from being broadcast at a later hour of the day.  It is a proscription that applies to the entire broadcast day and night.”

The Panel also considered that the presence of the f-word and the word “cunt”, as well as some of the other sexual comments required the program to be broadcast only after 9:00 pm (and before 6:00 am), that the broadcast should have contained viewer advisories coming out of every commercial break, that those advisories should have provided more detail about the specific nature of the content, and that the episode should have been accompanied by a 14+ classification icon.

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 and the pay television Codes, as well as the Code dealing with journalistic ethics created by the RTNDA – Association of Electronic Journalists in 1970.  Nearly 760 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