Paid Spots Voiced by Radio Host Were Sufficiently Distinct from Programming, Says Canadian Broadcast Standards Council

Ottawa, February 14, 2017 – The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning paid spots voiced by a radio host on CFEL-FM (BLVD 102.1, Quebec City).  The CBSC concluded that the spots were sufficiently distinct from news and program content, so the station did not violate any broadcast code.

On September 6, 2016, during his talk show Arthur le midi, radio host André Arthur did two “live” advertisements for a local restaurant.  The host prefaced the first spot with [translation] “before going to the real commercial break, we’re going to do a fake commercial break”; he then proceeded to talk about the limited time offer of a roast beef dinner at the restaurant.  That spot was followed by a customary commercial break of pre-recorded advertisements.  Arthur did a similar promotion for the restaurant at the end of his program, only that time he did not introduce it with any comments about a “fake commercial”.

A listener complained that hosts should not be allowed to insert advertisements into programming like this, because it blurs the line between paid programming and editorial content. The station argued that it had adequately separated the two elements.

The CBSC’s French-Language Panel examined the complaint under the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ Code of Ethics.  The code requires that paid content be distinct from regular program content, but the Panel found that the station had achieved an appropriate separation in this case.  The host had announced he was about to do a “fake commercial” in the first instance.  Moreover, the spots occurred at what was clearly the end of the first segment and then after the talk show’s conclusion.  Also, the subjects treated during Arthur le midi that day were completely unrelated to the restaurant.

The CBSC was created in 1990 by Canada’s private broadcasters to administer the codes of standards that they established for their industry. The CBSC currently administers 7 codes which deal with ethics, equitable portrayal, violence, news and journalistic independence.  Around 800 radio stations, satellite radio services, television stations and specialty and pay television services across Canada participate in 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 . For more information, please contact the CBSC National Chair, Andrée Noël, at anoel@cbsc.ca or CBSC Executive Director, John MacNab, at jmacnab@cbsc.ca or by telephone at (613) 233-4607.