Sexualization of Children on Airwaves Is Inappropriate, Says Canadian Broadcast Standards Council

Ottawa, August 29, 2007 – The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning comments made during a discussion broadcast on CFRQ-FM (Q104, Halifax) on September 23, 2006.  The announcers made a reference that sexualized children, which the CBSC Atlantic Regional Panel concluded was in violation of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ (CAB) Sex-Role Portrayal Code

On September 23, 2006, the Rolling Stones played an outdoor concert in Halifax.  Following the concert, two male announcers discussed the event.  One suggested that the other was “excited like a little school-girl”, to which comment the other replied, “with my budding breasts and my rock-hard nipples.”  A representative from the Women’s Innovative Justice Initiative contacted the station to complain that this comment sexualized children and “objectified girls’ bodies.”  Being dissatisfied with the station’s initial response, the complainant contacted the CBSC.  Following a second, lengthier reply from the station, the complainant asked the CBSC to rule on the matter. 

The CBSC examined the complaint under Article 4 (Exploitation) of the CAB Sex-Role Portrayal Code, which prohibits the exploitation and sexualization of children.  The Atlantic Regional Panel concluded that the comments did violate that Code for the following reasons: 

“Like a little school-girl” [alone] would have been understood in the same way as “like a little school-boy” would have been, namely, with the emphasis on “little”, as in naïvely excitable, girlishly, boyishly or youngishly thrilled.  Indeed, there are many kinds of excitement, most of which have no sexual connotation.  […]  The dialogue between Scott and J.C. did not, however, end at such an innocuous place.  [J.C.] added “[my] budding breasts” and “my rock-hard nipples”.  In the view of the Panel, the reference was clearly sexual and, when the reference to “budding” breasts was added to “little school-girl”, the intent to refer to children was unmistakable.  In the circumstances, the Panel’s conclusion cannot be otherwise than that the broadcaster unacceptably sexualized children, contrary to the prohibition contained in Article 4 of the CAB Sex-Role Portrayal Code

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 600 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