Ottawa, November 21, 2017 – The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning an editorial broadcast on CKMF-FM (Énergie 94.3, Montreal). The segment was a satirical critique targetting attitudes towards women that contribute to sexual harassment. The CBSC concluded that the piece did not breach any codes regarding stereotyping.
The segment was a monologue by contributor Rosalie Bonenfant, broadcast on November 26, 2016 at 8:00 am. In it, she sarcastically “thanked” men for certain attitudes and behaviours, such as [translation] “Thanks, boys, for always immediately assuming that any time we’re angry or emotional, it’s pre-menstrual syndrome. […] Thanks for grabbing our asses when you feel like it, even if we don’t know you. […] We’re happy to feel like we’ve successfully fulfilled our primary function, which is to please you.”
A listener complained that the monologue generalized about all men, suggesting that they were all sexual aggressors and incapable of understanding the concept of consent. The station pointed out that it had preceded the segment with an advisory that the monologue would contain sarcasm and irony, and that Bonenfant had not intended to paint all men with the same brush.
The CBSC examined the complaint under the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ (CAB) Equitable Portrayal Code and Code of Ethics, which contain provisions against unduly negative stereotyping. The Equitable Portrayal Code also contains a provision that explains that content that might otherwise appear discriminatory may not breach the code if the context is comedic or satirical. The CBSC’s French-Language Panel concluded that that provision was applicable in this case. The monologue was intended to be a satirical commentary on a social issue of public interest and it was introduced with the warning that it was intended to be sarcastic and ironic. There was, therefore, no breach of either 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 5 codes which deal with ethics, equitable portrayal, violence, news and journalistic independence. Around 800 radio stations, satellite radio services, conventional and discretionary television services across Canada participate in the Council.
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