No Broadcast Code Violations for Sexual Innuendo on Radio, Says Canadian Broadcast Standards Council

Ottawa, January 27, 2010 – The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released two decisions (1, 2) concerning two different recurring segments on the Dean Blundell Show, the CFNY-FM (102.1 The Edge, Toronto) morning show.  The CBSC found that neither segment violated the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ (CAB) Code of Ethics because they contained sexual innuendo rather than unduly sexually explicit material.

CFNY-FM is a rock radio station and the Dean Blundell Show includes songs, news, traffic and weather updates, and banter among the hosts, as well as various recurring segments featuring guest interviews and listener contests.  The CBSC received complaints about an example of each of two segments, one known as “Gay Jeff” and the other as “Wha’ Happened?”  In the “Gay Jeff” segment, the program hosts spoke with Jeff, a gay man who talked about his life experiences.  On the January 22, 2009 segment, Jeff spoke about a relationship he had had.  The dialogue include a number of double entendres and sexually suggestive comments made.  For example, there were references to an “assistant manager” being an “ass man”, a comment by Jeff that he “already got all nine that [he] needed from him” and questions posed to the female producer about whether she would sleep with a reality television star.  The “Wha’ Happened?” segment was a contest in which listeners had to phone in and recount unusual stories that had happened to them.  On March 20, 2009, one woman described how she had been strip-searched after committing an act of vandalism, another told the hosts that her boyfriend had accidentally cut off her nipple with a weed whacker, and yet another described her visit to a Mexican gynaecologist.  In both cases, the CBSC received complaints that the sexual content of the segments was inappropriate for morning radio.

The CBSC’s Ontario Regional Panel examined the complaints under Clause 9(b) of the CAB Code of Ethics, which prohibits the broadcast of “unduly sexually explicit material” at times of the day when children could be listening.  The Panel concluded that

the examples were simply insufficiently explicit to amount to “unduly sexually explicit” content.  This is not to say that they might not be understood by some young persons; it is rather that the sexual dialogue was not anything like the “in your face examples” [previously adjudicated by the CBSC].  And material that is on the cusp is protected by the application of the principle of freedom of expression, which takes precedence over material that is not clearly in breach of a codified standard.

The Panel also expressed concern about the depiction of Mexicans in the “Wha’ Happened?” segment because the hosts affected a Mexican accent and suggested that a Mexican doctor would use crude tools, such as salad tongs.  The Panel concluded, however, that the comments were not so negative as to constitute unduly negative stereotyping under the CAB Equitable Portrayal Code, nor did it find that the segment was degrading to women.  There was no breach of any Code in either case.

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.  More than 735 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