Jokes about Murders Breached Broadcast Code, Says Canadian Broadcast Standards Council

Ottawa, April 19, 2012 – The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning a segment broadcast on the Dean Blundell Show on CFNY-FM (102.1 The Edge, Toronto).  The CBSC concluded that the hosts’ conversation about murders violated the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ (CAB) Code of Ethics because it contained gratuitous violence and made light of a violent act.

The Dean Blundell Show is the morning show on rock radio station The Edge.  On September 15, 2011, the hosts talked about the murders of two people that had occurred in Mexico.  The people were murdered allegedly because they had posted negative comments on social media websites about Mexican drug gangs.  The two people had been found disemboweled and hanging from a bridge.  The hosts provided gory details about the state of the bodies and then joked about how the Facebook “status” of the people would be “disemboweled” or “dripping blood from the bridge”.  They also made other jokes about the situation.

A listener complained that the segment was “entirely repugnant and disgusting”.  The station acknowledged that the “discussion was graphic and unpleasant”, but stated that the hosts were trying to “bring levity” to the subject.

The CBSC’s Ontario Regional Panel examined the complaint under Clause 9(a) of the CAB Code of Ethics which prohibits gratuitous violence in any form on radio and Clause 6 which requires the proper presentation of all opinion and comment.  The Panel found violations of both clauses because the “gruesome details provided about the state of the bodies was entirely unnecessary to the discussion, particularly given the flippant tone with which those descriptions were provided”.  The Panel also stated that “the constant laughter on the part of the hosts and the multiple jokes about the murder victims demonstrated extreme insensitivity and went beyond mere poor taste” in this discussion about a real incident relating to a serious problem in Mexico.

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