Broadcast of Person’s COVID-19 Vaccination Status Was Inappropriate, Says Canadian Broadcast Standards Council

Ottawa, May 25, 2022 – The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning the broadcast of a private individual’s COVID-19 vaccination status during The Lockeroom morning show on CKEA-FM (95.7 Cruz FM, Edmonton). The CBSC found that the broadcast violated the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ (CAB) Code of Ethics.

During the February 10, 2022 edition of The Lockeroom morning show, the hosts discussed their reactions to the removal of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. One of the hosts said that he was reluctant to go to an event where he knew one of his unvaccinated friends would be there. He first mentioned the person by last name and, later in the conversation, referred to the person by his nickname which includes his full first name. The hosts also joked that this person is a good friend to have because he would help you bury a body and gave tips on how to burn a car.

The complaint came from the friend who objected to the revelation of his vaccination status on air and to linking him with criminal activity. He stated that he had not consented to this information being broadcast and had even told the host in the past not to talk about him on air.

The broadcaster noted that the host shares personal anecdotes during the program and apologized for this incident.

The CBSC’s English-Language Panel examined the complaint under Clause 6 of the CAB Code of Ethics which requires the full, fair and proper presentation of all commentary, as well as Article 5.5 of the Radio Television Digital News Association of Canada’s (RTDNA) Code of Journalistic Ethics regarding privacy. The Panel unanimously concluded that the broadcast of the man’s identity along with his COVID vaccination status without his consent breached both code provisions because medical information is confidential and the revelation of his full name was unnecessary for the discussion. The majority of the Panel also found that it was also inappropriate to suggest that the identified person would engage in criminal activity, even if these comments were made in jest.

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