Ottawa, January 24, 2002 — The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning the live version of the song “Highway Girl” by the Tragically Hip broadcast on CJKR-FM (Power 97, Winnipeg). In the middle of this live version, lead singer Gord Downie performs one of his signature “rants”. This particular rant was a story about a planned, but subsequently aborted, double suicide where one person dies. It also contained some very coarse language. The song aired at 11:02 am on the Monday of a long week-end.
The CBSC Prairie Regional Panel considered this broadcast under the provision of the Canadian Association of Broadcaster's Code of Ethics, which recognizes that “the … proper presentation of … opinion [and] comment … is the prime and fundamental responsibility of the broadcast publisher.” It is the provision used by the CBSC to deal with complaints concerning offensive language as well as other matters. In the Panel's view, both the language used in the “rant” and its violent content rendered it inappropriate for broadcast at a time when children could be expected to be listening.
In noting the use of the words “f***ing” and “s**t”, the Prairie Regional Panel cited the recent CBSC Ontario Panel decision in which the broadcast of “Livin' It Up” by Limp Bizkit and “Outside” by Aaron Lewis and Fred Durst was found to be in breach because of the offensive language contained in those songs.
The Panel sees nothing in these circumstances that would lead it to distinguish the song “Highway Girl (Live)” from the other songs dealt with in the CIOX-FM decision. Here, too, the broadcaster had the option of playing a version of the song that did not include the “rant” with the offending words or of playing that version at an hour when younger people would not have been expected to be listening.
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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