Phrase Used by Announcer to Describe Police Radar Trap Did Not Breach Broadcast Code, Says Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (disponible en anglais seulement)

Ottawa, February 13, 1997 -- The B.C. Regional Council of the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning comments made by an announcer on Kelowna’s CKLZ-FM.

The announcer discussed a police radar trap (a “fuzz-trap”, in the announcer’s words), and added that listeners should consider picking up a box of donuts and coffee for the police monitoring the radar trap. He closed with a mention of the U2 song, Achtung Baby. A CKLZ-FM listener and police officer wrote to express his concerns with the announcer’s supposedly “childish name calling, the insinuation that a donut and a coffee could buy a cop, and with all the all the negative connotations that accompany the word ‘Achtung.’” The station replied that the reference to “fuzz trap” was intended to remind listeners that they should observe speed limits; that the reference to donuts and coffee was simply a suggestion of a kind gesture that listeners could perform to recognize the work of police officers, and that the use of “Achtung” was strictly in reference to an album by the group U2. After further correspondence, in which the station sent the listener a tape of the broadcast, he conceded that he was most preoccupied with the use of the word “Achtung”, which, in his view, radio listeners would not have associated with U2. The listener asked the CBSC’s B.C. Regional Council to consider the matter.

In its decision (attached), the Regional Council noted, with regard to the use of “Achtung”, that the term, per se, is not offensive, though in its current context, it had come to be associated with Nazi atrocities in the Second World War. Nonetheless, the Council recognized that the term had been used on a rock station, in reference to a highly popular rock album, and that most listeners to the station would therefore have associated “Achtung” with the rock group, and not with the Second World War. As the Council stated, “expectations of listeners are ... a matter of substantial relevance to the Council .... In the matter at hand, the Council considers that the station’s rock music audience would have understood that the song in question would immediately follow the commercial break. They would have read nothing more into the comment....” Thus, the Regional Council decided that CKLZ-FM did not broadcast improper, abusive or discriminatory material or comment, and that the station did not breach the broadcasting industry’s Code of Ethics.

In addition to administering a Code of Ethics, the CBSC administers codes on journalistic practices, television violence, and gender portrayal. Nearly 400 private sector radio and television stations are members of the CBSC and adhere to these codes.

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