Birthday Wishes on Tout le monde debout Are Unduly Sexually Explicit
Says Canadian Broadcast Standards Council

Ottawa, December 10, 2003 – The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released a decision concerning content broadcast during Tout le monde debout hosted by Patrick Lavoie on radio station CIKI-FM (Rimouski). It involved a regular segment in which the host conspires with friends and family members to play a joke on a person celebrating her or his birthday. According to a listener, the segment on the broadcast in question contained unsuitable content. The Quebec Regional Panel agreed, finding that the content was unduly sexually explicit and thus in breach of Clause 9(c) of the CAB Code of Ethics.

In November 2002, Tout le monde debout featured a segment called “réveil-anniversaire” in which the host called a woman celebrating her 18th birthday, the “victim” of the prank. The host provided her full name and age, and her University residence. During the call, the host pretended that he wanted to go out with her, because, he alleged, he had heard so much regarding her sexual prowess. The host said to the “victim” : “apparently you're something in bed” and he said that she had apparently been performing the sexual activities known as “the Quebec top and the wheelbarrow”. The complainant expressed her concern that the privacy of the “victim” might have been infringed by airing her detailed personal information, especially in combination with the sexual content mentioned on air.

The Quebec Regional Panel pointed out that, had the “victim”'s consent not been obtained, the revelation of such detailed information would have been a breach of the Code; however, the Panel had no way of assessing whether or not such consent was given. It concluded that “there are no grounds for finding any breach on the part of the broadcaster with respect to the airing of such personal information.” The Panel was, however, in a position to judge the sexual content when it assessed the complaint under the Code provision dealing with radio broadcasting which prohibits the airing of unduly sexually explicit material:

The question of the broadcast of sexual content is another matter. Consent is not the issue in this case. The issue is the audience, not the “victim”. The issue relates to the sensibilities of the listeners, not of the object of the humour. In dealing with the airing of comparable subject matter, namely, the broadcast of a description of sexual activity on the workbench the evening before, the […]Panel concluded […] that the program was too sexually explicit and, consequently, “unsuitable for times of the day when children could be expected to be listening.” [The Panel] also decided that comments about the sex lives of the hosts and various celebrities were too explicit for such times of the day. In the matter at hand, the Panel finds that the comments about [C.] being hot in bed and doing “[translation] the Quebec top and the wheelbarrow” are unduly sexually explicit and in breach of Clause 9(c) of the CAB Code of Ethics.

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 530 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