The Failure to Respond Effectively to Complainants Breaches CBSC Membership Obligations, Says Canadian Broadcast Standards Council

Ottawa, September 16, 2005 – The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning the broadcast of an episode of the morning show Y’é trop de bonne heure on CKOI-FM (Montreal) in January 2005. A complainant alleged that some of the hosts’ comments were coarse or offensive, unduly sexually explicit, and upsetting and hurtful about Quebec City residents. He provided illustrative quotations from that show, which he said was broadcast on January 18. The Corus Radio representative who responded to the complaint appeared to accept the accuracy of the quoted dialogue but denied that it was offensive in any of the ways suggested by the complainant.

When the CBSC received the logger tape dubs from CKOI-FM, it turned out that the segment had not been aired on January 18 but, since it was long after the limit date for retention of tapes by the broadcaster, the CBSC had no way to verify the actual broadcast date. Broadcasters are, however, expected to co-operate fully with complainants by responding quickly and effectively to their specific concerns.

Consequently, the Panel concluded that, whether by not retaining and supplying the correct tape or by not replying fully and effectively to the complainant’s concerns, CKOI-FM had breached certain of its obligations as a member of the CBSC.

Despite the absence of a recording of the broadcast, the Panel did consider that it had sufficient material to enable it to adjudicate the complaint and, on the substantive level, it found that some of the language quoted by the complainant was coarse and offensive and in violation of Clause 9(c) of the CAB Code of Ethics. It also concluded that other comments by the CKOI-FM morning team were “blatant, crass and unduly sexually explicit.” Finally, it found that “those comments comparing Quebec City to a cow pasture and its inhabitants as being of a lesser class than Montrealers sound a lot like rival yells at a football or hockey game, [while] those that label Quebec City residents ‘pigs and whores’ […] constitute unfair and improper presentation of comment or editorial in violation of Clause 6 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 550 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