Sexually Explicit Comments re Massage Parlour/Sex Trade Charges Breach Code, Says Canadian Broadcast Standards Council

Ottawa, July 21, 2004 – The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning three episodes of the Forbes and Friends morning show broadcast on CJAY-FM (Calgary) in November 2003.  The Prairie Regional Panel did not find any code breaches with respect to certain ethnically-related comments to which the complainant had objected; it did, however, find that certain sexually explicit comments had exceeded the private broadcasters’ codified standards. 

On the first broadcast in question, the hosts’ brief comments on the news report that dog and coyote remains had been found in a freezer in an Edmonton Chinese restaurant were followed by a parody song that implied that cat meat might be a menu item instead of the chicken, beef, or pork listed there.  On the broadcast that aired the next day, the hosts presented a news story of a police raid on Calgary massage parlours alleged to have been operating as common bawdy houses.  The police had been attempting to close a trafficking pipeline for Thai sex trade workersCharges laid included conspiracy to procure a person to enter Canada to work in a bawdy house, living on the avails of prostitution, keeping a common bawdy house and participation in illegal drug-related activities.  The story was followed by the broadcast of a song apparently entitled “Singapore Whore”. 

The complainant was disconcerted by the fact that the station had “found it appropriate to continue their array of ethnic skits designed to mock and ridicule Asians in general.  It seems that the morning crew has taken advantage of current events and used that as an excuse to continue their campaign of mockery and ridicule against Asians.”  Since the Prairie Panel had previously determined, in the case of another broadcast, that the parody song relating to Chinese restaurants did not breach any of the Codes, it made no further comment on the subject here.  With respect to the “Singapore Whore” song, the Panel noted 

that the skit focuses on Singapore sex workers, who are not even of the same nationality as the women caught up in the human smuggling enterprise in Calgary.  At that, the Panel does not consider that the skit paints all Singaporean or Asian women, much less all Thai women, as whores.  The skit is only about those women who work in the sex trade.  There is nothing in the skit which broadens the scope of any discriminatory comment beyond the narrow confine of women sex trade workers.  

It also concluded that “the humour of the skit, which may well be in bad taste, is neither nasty nor bludgeoning to use the criteria long ago established” by the CBSC and thus not in breach of the Human Rights clause or that requiring the “full, fair and proper presentation of …opinion, comment or editorial.” 

On the other hand, the Prairie Panel was concerned by the explicitness of the sexual comments, which it did consider were in breach of the radio clause of the CAB Code of Ethics. 

The Panel considers that, in this case, some of the morning crew’s comments regarding occurrences in common bawdy houses were unduly sexually explicit.  Specifically, the Panel notes the repetition of a prostitute’s invitation to have anal intercourse with her as well as [certain other] comment[s] [which] constitute unduly sexually explicit content for morning radio and are in breach of Clause 9 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.

– 30 –

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