A Report about US Border Patrols Did Not Breach Broadcast Codes, Says Canadian Broadcast Standards Council

Ottawa, March 9, 2022 – The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning a report broadcast on CTV National News about United States border patrols on September 22, 2021. The CBSC concluded that the introduction to the report was acceptable and the report did not breach any broadcast codes.

The report was about the actions of US border patrol officers towards migrants at the US-Mexico border. The introduction to the report stated, “horrifying new video shows border agents on horseback charging at the migrants using reins as whips”. The rest of the report explained that US officials had spoken out against inappropriate and inhumane treatment of Haitian migrants by US border agents after the release of images showing the agents on horseback charging at migrants.

A viewer complained that the introduction was inaccurate because there was no confirmation that the border agents had used their reins as whips against the people on the ground. CTV pointed out that there was photographic evidence of the agents lashing out with whips and that the incident was now the subject of a US Department of Justice investigation.

The CBSC’s English-Language Panel examined the complaint under the Radio-Television Digital News Association of Canada’s Code of Journalistic Ethics and the News clause of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ Code of Ethics. The Panel concluded that CTV did not violate either of those codes in the presentation of this report because “There is nothing either in the wording or the visual elements of the report that says or intimates that the US horseback border patrol used their reins to whip the migrants trying to enter the country.” One Panel member did, however, consider that the introduction sensationalized the issue because the phrase “using reins as whips” might have “led viewers to infer that the reins were indeed used as whips against the migrants, when that fact was actually in dispute in the story.”

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. For more information, please visit www.cbsc.ca.