Airborne “Hazing” Video Not In Breach Of Violence Code, According To Broadcast Standards Council (disponible en anglais seulement)

Ottawa, May 2, 1996 – The Ontario Regional Council of the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council today released its decision concerning CTV’s airing of a videotape of the Airborne Regiment’s “hazing” incident.

The video, aired at 7:00 a.m. on Canada AM on January 19, 1995, was preceded by a warning from the announcer. It lasted 15 seconds. A CTV viewer felt that the scenes depicted in the video were “far too explicit”, and expressed concern about the privacy of the soldiers in the video. CTV replied by reminding the viewer of the warning, and by stating that certain segments of the video had been edited as they were “even more disgusting than those shown on the News.” In CTV’s view, such events occurred, but the reality had to be made public, without “sanitizing” it.

After viewing a tape of the news report, the Ontario Regional Council agreed that the story had to be told, and then addressed CTV’s method of telling the story. The Council considered that CTV had neither sanitized nor sensationalized the video clip. The privacy of people in the video had not been compromised, since the video did not permit the identification of people shown in it. Finally, the Council noted that the warning read by the announcer in advance of the video clip had been ample and clear. Therefore, the Council decided that CTV had breached neither the industry’s Violence Code nor its Code on journalistic ethics.

In the text of its decision (attached), the Council stated, “...the broadcaster must temper the public’s need to know with the measure of how much needs to be known so as not to exceed the bounds provided in the Violence Code ... while the public in general must be informed, individual viewers are, of course, entitled to decide what is not palatable for them and their families.”

The CBSC Ontario Regional Council includes representatives of the general public and the broadcasting industry. Broadcasters participating in this decision were Paul Fockler and Madeline Ziniak, while the public representatives were Taanta Gupta, Ron Cohen and Robert Stanbury. Broadcaster Al MacKay, a member of the Regional Council, did not participate in this decision.

Created in 1990 as the self-regulatory body for private sector broadcasters, the CBSC membership includes some 400 radio and television stations from across Canada. In addition to the industry’s Violence Code and Code on Journalistic Ethics, the CBSC is responsible for the industry’s Sex-Role Portrayal Code and the Code of Ethics.

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For more information, please contact the CBSC National Chair, Ronald I. Cohen at (###) ###-####.