Radio Broadcaster’s Recommendation of Violence in Hockey Violates Code, Says Canadian Broadcast Standards Council

Ottawa, August 12, 2008 – The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning comments made on an episode of Bonsoir les sportifs broadcast on CKAC-AM (Montreal).  Host Ron Fournier suggested that the Montreal Canadiens use violence against their opponents.  The CBSC concluded that the broadcast violated the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ (CAB) Code of Ethics because it promoted violence contrary to Clause 9(a).

On the sports talk show, host Ron Fournier was speaking with his co-host about the meagre reaction of the Montreal Canadiens to opponents’ interference with their goalie in a recent game.  Fournier suggested that, on the first two instances of goalie interference, the team should approach the referee, but, on the third occasion, [translation] “you break your stick on the back of the player’s neck.  […]  You cross-check him in the back of the head and he ends up with his face in the glass enclosure or in the ice!”  He repeated this suggestion despite the reminder from his co-host that young people listen to the program.

The CBSC received a complaint from a listener who was concerned about the message this broadcast sent to young people about using violence in hockey games.  The station argued that Fournier had not intended to incite listeners to violence and the comments were made in the context of a specific professional hockey game.

The Quebec Regional Panel examined the complaint under Clause 9(a) of the CAB Code of Ethics, which prohibits the sanctioning or promotion of violence on radio.  The Panel concluded that the broadcast violated that Code provision because Fournier’s remarks “not only ‘endorsed’, ‘encouraged’, ‘approved’ and ‘supported’ such violent acts, they recommended such a course of action to protect a goaltender.”

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, as well as the Code dealing with journalistic ethics created by the RTNDA – Association of Electronic Journalists in 1970.  More than 685 radio stations, satellite radio services, 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