Report about Local Store Did Not Breach Broadcast Code, Says Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (disponible en anglais seulement)

Ottawa, February 11, 1997 -- The B.C. Regional Council of the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning a newscast aired on CFJC-TV in Kamloops.

A CFJC-TV viewer was concerned about a news report covering the Kamloops Anti-Racist Group. The report began with a mention of a local resident who was the group’s spokesperson, then used library footage depicting BC white supremacists, and then included segments of an interview with an owner of a local surplus and survival shop. The reporter opened the interview by mentioning that the Anti-Racist Group feared that the store catered to white supremacists. The store owner was featured stating that, while his shop appeared to attract white supremacists, his merchandise was legal and he did not direct his clients to, or provide them with information about, white supremacist groups.

The viewer complained that the news director had made “deliberate and derogatory statements amounting to fear” concerning the shop owner, and that the report was in “the worst taste possible.” The news director replied that the report had been unbiased and had not contained derogatory statements. The news director felt that the report had balanced the Group’s view and the shop owner’s position. The viewer, unsatisfied with this reply, asked the CBSC’s B.C. Regional Council to consider the matter. Its decision is attached.

The Regional Council, after reviewing the tape of the report and the related correspondence, noted that it was in the public interest for the station to report on the story. The message of the report was to indicate to viewers that the white supremacist issue, a story of public importance was, nonetheless, also a phenomenon of local concern. Moreover, the Council agreed that the story had been balanced. The footage of the shop and its merchandise, and the Group’s allegations, were juxtaposed against the shop owner’s own comments and point of view. The Council members recognized that “the order of presentation of the story might have resulted in some initial imbalance in the presentation of the story but all agreed that the owner’s on-screen explanations provided the effective counterpoint required.” Thus, in the Council’s view, the station had respected 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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