Negative Generalizations about an Entire Group are Unacceptable, Says Canadian Broadcast Standards Council

Ottawa, July 31, 2019 – The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning an episode of the Zelda Young Show broadcast on CHIN AM 1540 Toronto on March 24, 2019. The CBSC concluded, by majority, that the station breached the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ (CAB) Code of Ethics and Equitable Portrayal Code for abusive and unduly discriminatory comments and unduly negative stereotyping about Muslims.

The Zelda Young Show is a talk show that treats issues of interest to the Jewish community. On the challenged episode, Young had as her guest American author and political commentator Diana West. The two women discussed American politics in the context of West’s book, The Red Thread. They expressed support for President Donald Trump’s actions and policies, and voiced their concern about socialist and globalist ideas taking hold in the United States over the last number of decades. At one point in the discussion, they touched on the issue of Islamic immigration to the United States. West said, “When you get an Islamic demographic, you do see an upsurge in anti-Semitism and […] it is something that is inculcated in the religion of Islam, just as it is anti-Christian. So, this is just what you see as a consequence of Islamic immigration” and “this is what happens when immigration is not calibrated to include people who are with you before they get here and don’t want to transform you to something you are not.”

The CBSC received a complaint from a listener who characterized the comments as “anti-immigrant” and “inappropriate”. CHIN asserted that Zelda Young has hosted a variety of other guests who have expressed different points of view.

The CBSC examined the complaint under the Human Rights clauses of the CAB Code of Ethics and Equitable Portrayal Code, as well as the stereotyping clause of the Equitable Portrayal Code. The Panel acknowledged that the “codes do allow the expression of political views on any subject including immigration, socialization, assimilation, and globalization. The majority of the Panel considers however, that where an accusation is against an entire group of people without exception, as in the case of this program, then such a statement will not be acceptable.” The Panel also noted that the host did nothing to mitigate the remarks. There was therefore a breach of the codes.

The listener was also concerned about negative comments made about American politician Joe Biden, but the Panel unanimously concluded that there was no breach because broadcasters are allowed to air criticisms of public figures.

The CBSC was created in 1990 by Canada’s private broadcasters to administer the codes of standards that they established for their industry. The CBSC currently administers 5 codes which deal with ethics, equitable portrayal, violence, news and journalistic independence. Around 800 radio stations, satellite radio services, conventional and discretionary television services across Canada participate in the Council.

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All CBSC decisions, codes, and related information are available on the CBSC’s website at www.cbsc.ca. For more information, please contact CBSC Chair, Sylvie Courtemanche, at scourtemanche@cbsc.ca or by telephone at 613-233-4607.