News Report About Deer Hunt Park Contained Inaccuracies, Says Canadian Broadcast Standards Council

Ottawa, November 8, 2002 – The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning a news report about a proposed deer hunt park in Coldwater, Ontario broadcast on CKVR-TV (The New VR, Barrie).  The CBSC Ontario Regional Panel found the broadcaster in breach of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ (CAB) Code of Ethics and the Radio-Television News Directors Association’s (RTNDA) Code of (Journalistic) Ethics for certain inaccuracies in the report.

The report focussed on the application by a resident of Coldwater to establish a deer hunting park on his property. It included interviews with various people implicated in the issue, one of whom, the hunt park owner, was taped on his wooded property. The report also showed footage of antlered animals in a pen in an unwooded area. The CBSC received a complaint from the hunt park owner’s neighbour who stated that the deer shown in the report were actually his deer and did not belong to the hunt park. He was concerned that the use of the footage of his animals invaded his privacy and misrepresented both his deer breeding operation and the hunt park. Citing the need for visuals to accompany the story, the broadcaster explained that there were no deer available for filming at the hunt park location, so they had filmed some at a property down the road.

The Ontario Regional Panel concluded that the broadcast did not violate the complainant’s privacy because it was unlikely that the average viewer would have been able to identify the deer as belonging to him.  The Panel did, however, find Code violations for the broadcaster’s inaccurate presentation of the animals as belonging to the hunt park.  The Panel made the following statement:

At no time has the broadcaster made the audience aware that the scenes were shot at two separate properties.  The reporter’s statement that the woman is opposed to plans for animals to be hunted ‘in a fenced-in area’ directly overlying the visuals of animals in a penned open field leaves the viewer with the distinct impression that those are in fact the animals to be hunted and that the enclosure is indeed the hunt park terrain.

[…]

The Panel does not consider that the broadcaster was intending to mislead its audience.Nonetheless, […] it has, in the view of the Panel, done a disservice in its misrepresentation of the nature of the hunt park.

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 520 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