The Broadcast of Explicit Language in Song Lyrics in Breach of Broadcaster Code, Says Canadian Broadcast Standards Council

Ottawa, December 4, 2001  — The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning the broadcast of two songs on the radio station CIOX-FM (Xfm, Ottawa),  “Livin' It Up” by Limp Bizkit and “Outside” by Aaron Lewis and Fred Durst.  Complainants were concerned with the use of the f-word and its derivatives multiple times in the song “Livin' It Up” and once in the song “Outside”.  While the Panel concluded that the songs were likely aired at various times, the three identified occasions for purposes of this decision were between 11:31 a.m. and 8:31 p.m.

The CBSC Ontario Regional Panel found the broadcast of these songs at times of the day when children could be expected to be listening to be in breach of 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.

The Ontario Regional Panel made the following comments about the two songs:

The Panel noted that the CBSC had “rendered several decisions in which it has concluded, as a general principle, that song lyrics are as subject to private broadcaster standards as any other form of broadcast matter.”

The Ontario Panel also pointed out that Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain and South Africa, which have similar regulatory bodies, codes or legislative provisions had ruled against broadcasters for playing songs containing coarse language such as that involved in the present CBSC decision.  In each case, the need to protect children against extremely coarse language was underscored.  Even in the United States, the Federal Communications Commission had ruled that the challenged words were not entitled to First Amendment protection.

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 470 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