No Code Violation because Abusive Comments Were Instantly Disputed, Says Canadian Broadcast Standards Council

Ottawa, June 9, 2010 – The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning a segment broadcast on the Kid Carson Show, the morning show of CFBT-FM (The Beat 94.5, Vancouver), on March 2, 2009.  During the segment in question, the hosts interviewed the author of a book and website entitled Men Are Better than Women.  A listener complained that the content was discriminatory against women.  The majority of the CBSC’s British Columbia Regional Panel concluded that the broadcast did not violate any broadcast codes.

During the segment, American author Dick Masterson provided his thoughts on women and explained his motivations for publishing his controversial book and website.  He made outrageous statements about women, asserted that women should not be allowed in the paid workforce, and concluded that men simply do everything better.  The Kid Carson Show hosts and each of the callers challenged Masterson on every one of his points, questioned why he had such negative views of women, and asked what his own mother thought of his work.  Carson also suggested that Masterson could not be serious and was only trying to be provocative in order to sell books.

A listener felt that the program provided Masterson with a platform for his misogynistic views and complained to the CBSC.  The Beat pointed out that the hosts did not share Masterson’s views and that he would not appear again on the program.  The CBSC’s B.C. Regional Panel examined the complaint under the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ (CAB) Code of Ethics and Equitable Portrayal Code, which contain provisions relating to abusive and unduly discriminatory comment based on sex, degradation and sex-role stereotyping.  The majority of the Panel concluded that the segment did not violate any of the Code provisions because the hosts and callers had consistently and immediately refuted all of Masterson’s anti-female views.  The Panel made the following observations:

[T]he unsavoury Masterson comments were effectively blunted, indeed destroyed.  By reason of the reaction of the three hosts, supplemented by the callers, nothing remained but buffoonery.  […]  [Masterson] was continually mocked by the women co-hosts, and Carson suggested that much of the controversial opinion was simply exaggerated to sell books.  […]  The unduly discriminatory, unduly negative stereotypical and abusive comments were debated on a level playing field, and the unacceptable comments were left tattered on that field of debate.  Not a sentence, not a phrase, not a word was left credibly afoot.  However problematic the opening and periodic Masterson assertions, there is in the result the contextual survival of the program itself.  The Panel finds no ultimate breach of the codified standards.

One Panel Adjudicator, however, disagreed, stating that the station should simply not have given Masterson a platform for his negative opinions and that, “by allowing Masterson on the program, the broadcaster has in effect polluted the program by his abusiveness directed at women.”

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.

– 30 –

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