Television Commercial for Rock Radio Station Is Not Exploitative, Says Canadian Broadcast Standards Council

Ottawa, February 3, 2004 – The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning a commercial for the radio station known as ”The Wolf” aired on CKCK-TV (Regina) on February 4, 2003, among other dates. Several viewers complained that the commercial exploited and degraded women, and that it aired at times of the day when young teens could be watching. The Prairie Regional Panel found no breach of Article 4 (Exploitation) of the Sex-Role Portrayal Code.

The commercial was produced in the style of a rock music video with quick edits and shadowy blue lighting.  It featured an attractive young blonde woman in a white tank top and panties.  While short excerpts from classic rock songs played on the sound track, she danced provocatively in front of a film screen, on which the names and images of the performing rock bands were displayed.  Each musical excerpt accompanying her dancing had a body-related theme that led the camera to focus on the corresponding parts of the woman’s body.  In finding no breach of the exploitation provision of the Sex-Role Portrayal Code, the Prairie Regional Panel stated the following:

In dealing with the issues of substance relating to the complaint, the first point to note is that exploitation and degradation are not time-dependent issues, since exploitative content is unacceptable at any time of day.  In dealing with complaints about exploitation on previous occasions, CBSC Panels have determined that there is nothing inherently exploitative in focusing on scantily clad or nude women where other elements provide context and justify the exposure.

Taking into consideration the context of the advertisement, the Panel added the following:

It [the ad] involves a provocatively-dressed woman but one who is performing in a way that is entirely appropriate for the matter advertised.  She was not selling cars or toothpaste but rather music and, more than just music, it was rock music.  Each song excerpt related to her physically.  In that sense, none was inappropriate.  While she was alluring, her demeanour and dress were contextual.

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.

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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