Ottawa, May 15, 1997 -- The Ontario Regional Council of the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) released its decision today concerning a public service announcement (PSA), part of the private broadcasters’ anti-violence campaign, aired on CFRA (Ottawa).
On behalf of Canada’s private broadcasters, the Canadian Association of Broadcasters had developed a radio and television PSA campaign with the theme, “violence makes victims of us all.” One of the PSAs involved several women of different ages and backgrounds. The script included the following words: “they have all suffered at the hands of someone close to them. What begins with control, emotional and verbal abuse, often becomes physical violence.” A listener to CFRA heard this PSA and complained in March, 1996, that it showed only women as victims of violence and implied that men were the cause of family violence. He argued that the PSA violated industry policy on gender portrayal and added that the PSA ignored the reality of women’s violence against children and men. CFRA responded to the listener by highlighting the fact that the PSA had been developed months ago and had been airing regularly since then, to support public awareness of family violence. CFRA added that the problem of domestic violence was well-documented both across Canada and in the local community, and there was no violation of the industry’s Code on Sex-Role Portrayal. The listener, unsatisfied with this response, asked the CBSC to have its Ontario Regional Council review the matter.
In its decision (attached), the Ontario Regional Council recognized that the PSA was part of a campaign developed by the industry to address the consequences of violence upon society. While this particular PSA dealt with violence imposed by men upon women, other PSAs dealt with other aspects of violence. Even though this PSA (indirectly) portrayed men, the question for the Council was whether the portrayal of men was not necessarily negative or unfair. It concluded that it was not the case, observing that this portrayal did not misrepresent the problem of family violence. The Council added that “fair-minded men and women will acknowledge that physical abuse is more often perpetrated by men on women than the other way round and that this PSA is not a depiction of the actions of all men or even most men....Its fair, realistic and justifiable presentation do not constitute a breach of the Code.”
In addition to administering the Sex-Role Portrayal Code, the CBSC administers broadcasting industry codes on ethics, television violence and journalistic ethics.
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This and other recent decisions of the CBSC are available on the World Wide Web at www.cbsc.ca. For more information, please contact the National Chair of the CBSC, Ron Cohen, at (###) ###-####.