Open-Line Program Contained Inappropriate Insults and Sexually Explicit Dialogue, Says Canadian Broadcast Standards Council

Ottawa, September 22, 2006 – The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning an episode of the open-line program Doc Mailloux broadcast on CKAC (Montréal) on January 24, 2006 at 1:00 pm, which the CBSC Quebec Regional Panel concluded was in violation of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ (CAB) Code of Ethics

Doc Mailloux is hosted by psychiatrist Pierre Mailloux and co-host Janine Ross, who take calls and discuss topics related to psychology, sociology and similar disciplines.  The topic of the January 24 episode, adolescent sexuality, gave the hosts the opportunity to react to widely reported comments made by actor Bruce Willis on that subject.  Willis apparently stated that he had warned his teenage daughters about what teenage boys are “really thinking”, namely, sex.  Mailloux objected to Willis’ position, calling him a “plein de marde” [“full of shit”] and other unsavoury terms.  In addition, some of the dialogue included detailed descriptions of sexual activity and vulgar terminology. 

The CBSC received a complaint objecting to the negative comments made about Willis.  CKAC explained that the program is controversial and that Dr. Mailloux’s statements may not please all listeners but it argued that he did not intend to incite hatred against anyone.  The Quebec Panel examined the complaint under Clause 6 of the CAB Code of Ethics, which requires the “full, fair and proper presentation” of “news opinion, comment and editorial”.  The Panel concluded that the nasty remarks about the actor violated that provision for the following reasons: 

In the matter at hand, the Panel concludes that the host was well within his rights and, indeed, his professional capacity, to criticize what Bruce Willis had said on the subject of adolescent sexuality.  […]  Mailloux was, however, not content to make his own statements in a dispassionate, professional way and it is there that the Panel finds a Code breach.  “Wrong” would be an acceptable criticism; “full of shit” is not.  Moreover, the words were directed at Willis, the individual, and not even at what he said.  And the host piled them on: [translations] “dumb”, “that damned half-wit”, “little brat”, “full of crap”, etc.  While one or another of these latter insults on its own might have passed muster, the collectivity, coupled with “full of shit” does not.  They constitute an excessive and pejorative insult aimed at a public figure, whose harmless comments about teen-age boys in no way justified such a nasty and unprofessional outburst on the part of a medical doctor. 

The Panel also found a violation of Clause 9 of the CAB Code of Ethics, which requires that broadcasters refrain from airing unduly sexually explicit material during daytime radio hours: 

[T]here were several examples of comments that were unduly sexually explicit for a time of the day when children could be expected to be listening.  […]  The following references, whether individually or cumulated, exceed the bounds of the acceptable in a broadcast at that time of day:  [translations] “fuck a woman”, “screw with other girls” (a comment made, in this instance, by a caller, but one for which the broadcaster is nonetheless responsible), “screw his daughters”, “I got sucked, I ate a woman’s clitoris”, “the little […] vagina will begin to lubricate”, the lengthy and detailed description by caller Alexandre of his first experience of sexual intercourse, even the dialogue with [11-year old] Émilie regarding the sexual activities of her parents, and caller Claude’s description of having “felt up… girls”.  

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 590 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