Spanish-Language Insult Violates Broadcast Code

Ottawa, June 13, 2012 – The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning a segment of The Source broadcast by Sun News Network on December 22, 2011.  The host of the program used Spanish coarse language to insult someone.  The CBSC found a violation of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ (CAB) Code of Ethics.

The Source is a public affairs talk program hosted by Ezra Levant.  On the December 22, 2011 episode, during his opening monologue, he criticized the Chiquita Banana company for boycotting oil from the Alberta oilsands.  He referred to a letter that Chiquita had sent which explained the company’s position.  Levant called the Chiquita executive who had written the letter a “liar”.  At the end of his monologue, he told the Chiquita executive to “chinga tu madre” – a Spanish-language insult that translates to “f**k your mother”.

The CBSC received numerous complaints about the broadcast.  Viewers complained that it was inappropriate for Levant to use such a nasty insult towards a named individual.  Sun News argued that the word “chingar” can have many different meanings and even provided the CBSC with a subsequent broadcast of The Source during which Levant discussed the word with a native Spanish speaker.  During that episode, Levant admitted he was trying to be offensive.

The CBSC’s National Specialty Services Panel concluded that the context of Levant’s use of the phrase “chinga tu madre” on December 22 was clearly intended to insult an identified person.  The use of coarse language to insult people in that manner, regardless of which language used, constitutes a breach of Clause 6 of the CAB Code of Ethics.

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 7 codes which deal with ethics, equitable portrayal, violence, news and journalistic independence.  Nearly 750 radio stations, satellite radio services, television stations and specialty and pay television services 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