No Broadcast Violation for WWE Segment Depicting Violence Against Women, Says Canadian Broadcast Standards Council

Ottawa, January 22, 2003 – The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning a segment broadcast on TSN Monday Night Raw, a production of the WWE (which was known as WWF at the time of broadcast of the episode in question). The CBSC National Specialty Services Panel found no violation of the article concerning violence against women in the Canadian Association of Broadcasters' (CAB) Voluntary Code Regarding Violence in Television Programming.

A viewer complained to the CBSC about a segment which showed a tag team beating up on their female manager/valet after her interference in their match resulted in their disqualification. The tag team members pulled the woman by the hair and threw her into a table. Throughout the attack, the ringside announcers made comments such as “this isn't right for a man to hit a woman like that,” and “like her or not, she did not deserve that.” The complainant viewer felt that the scene sent an inappropriate message to potential children viewers.

The National Specialty Services Panel examined the segment under Article 7 of the CAB Violence Code, which states that “broadcasters shall not telecast programming which sanctions, promotes or glamorizes any aspect of violence against women.” It found no breach, explaining

there is violence present; however, that content is most assuredly not condoned. While the wrestlers unquestionably celebrate their “accomplishments” vis-à-vis Stacy, the position of the scripted ringside commentators is clear. They disapprove. They repeatedly express the opinion that the attack is excessive and unjustified with statements such as “she did not deserve that” and “it isn't right for a man to hit a woman like that”. It is also significant that they express these reactions while the attack is in progress; thus leaving viewers with the unequivocal message that such violence against women is not acceptable. The actual beating up of Stacy may be tasteless and terrible role modelling but the scene is not in violation of Article 7.0 of the CAB Violence Code.

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