Valentine’s Day Dialogue on Tom Leykis Show Is Degrading to Women and Unduly Sexually Explicit, Says Canadian Broadcast Standards Council

Ottawa, November 20, 2003 – The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning an episode of the American-originating Tom Leykis Show, then broadcast on CHMJ-AM (MOJO Radio, Vancouver), on February 14, 2003 (and since taken off the air by CHMJ-AM). A complainant argued that the radio program promoted the objectification and hatred of women. The CBSC's British Columbia Regional Panel concluded that the CHMJ broadcast was in breach of certain clauses of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB) Code of Ethics and Sex-Role Portrayal Code, which prohibit the objectification and degradation of individuals based on gender, on the one hand, and the broadcast of unduly sexually explicit material, on the other.

During the episode in question, the host took calls from male and female listeners during a live broadcast from a local tavern. The general subject matter was a combination of sex and relationship advice in the context of Valentine's Day. The host continually used, and allowed the use by others of, words and comments such as “bitch”, “money whore”, “pathetic chicks”, “another illiterate ignorant vagina” and other such terms in reference to women. He emphasized that women merited no special treatment on Valentine's Day. He also put breasts on display, as best as he could in a radio context, and engaged in unduly sexually explicit conversations that described, among other things, oral sex acts.

the extent of its disrespect for women and sweeping generalized disregard for their equality are astonishing. As the CBSC has observed in previous decisions, programming that may be acceptable in the United States may not meet the more respectful standards in the Canadian corner of the global village. The desensitization that such broadcast mockery of women may generate in Canadian audiences should not be underestimated. Nor does it bring benefit to our airwaves. While freedom of expression is a cherished value, the exercise of that freedom without limits does not strengthen Canada's social fabric.

Several of the calls relating to sexual activity focused on examples of oral sexual acts; the Panel considers that they were unduly sexually explicit in terms of the radio provision in 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 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