Promo Making Light of Violent Act Violated Broadcast Code, Says Canadian Broadcast Standards Council

Ottawa, April 11, 2012 – The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning a promotional spot for Tosh.O broadcast on The Comedy Network.  The promo featured the host of the program making a joke about a video-clip of a car ploughing through a crowd of bicyclists.  The CBSC concluded that the promo violated Article 1.1 of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ (CAB) Violence Code.

The 10-second promo aired on August 6, 2011 at 6:46 pm.  Tosh.O is an American comedy program in which host Daniel Tosh shows video-clips from YouTube and similar websites and makes fun of them.  In the promo, Tosh said “Here’s something I’m sure we’ve all wanted to do.”  He then showed a clip of a car driving through a crowd of people on bicycles.

A viewer complained that it was inappropriate to derive amusement from this scenario because people might have been seriously hurt.  The clip was apparently of an incident that had occurred in Brazil when a car drove through a group of cyclists in February 2011.  According to reports, there were no fatalities, but as many as 40 were injured.  The Comedy Network argued that the promo contained irreverent humour and that Tosh.O’s producers would not have been allowed to show a clip involving fatalities.

The CBSC’s National Specialty Services Panel examined the complaint under Article 1.1 of the CAB Violence Code which states that programming shall not sanction, promote or glamorize violence.  The Panel found that the promo’s light-hearted treatment of the serious incident, particularly the inclusion of Tosh’s comment, had the effect of validating and supporting the action.  The promo therefore violated the Code.

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.  Nearly 750 radio stations, satellite radio services, television stations and specialty and pay television services 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