Broadcast Standards Council Ruling On Radio Newscast

Ottawa, May 30, 1997 -- The Ontario Regional Council of the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) released its decision today concerning a news item aired on CFRA (Ottawa).

On International Women’s Day (March 14) 1996, CFRA aired a news item which reported that women spend almost twice as much time as men taking care of the home and children, and that women earn 72 cents for every dollar earned by men. As a result, according to the report, it could be said that every day is International Men’s Day. The item then went on to announce the “Women of Distinction” award, recognizing exemplary women in the community. A CFRA listener, filing his fourth complaint with the CBSC concerning this station and this issue, wrote to complain that the news item was sexist. In his opinion, the report was offensive, unfair and in violation of industry standards on gender portrayal. As the organizer of Ottawa’s International Men’s Day, he complained that CFRA had accorded no coverage to his event and allocated an overwhelming majority of its time to women’s issues. In its coverage of International Women’s Day, CFRA had, according to the complainant, jeered at an unfunded grassroots day organized by men to portray positive images of masculinity. CFRA responded that it had covered, in reporting on International Women’s Day, factual information of interest to a diverse group of women and men. The station added that it reported on news of community interest, regardless of the gender of the newsmaker. The listener was unsatisfied with CFRA’s response and asked the CBSC to refer the matter to its Ontario Regional Council.

In its decision (attached), the Ontario Regional Council noted that the news item was not inaccurate and did not breach industry standards concerning the presentation of news. The report did not intend to abuse or exploit men, nor did it have this effect. By reporting on a story that highlighted women, the station did not discriminate against men and did not select news in order to further or hinder one side of a controversial issue. Consequently, in the Regional Council’s opinion, CFRA did not breach industry standards on ethics or on gender portrayal.

The CBSC is the self-regulatory body created by private broadcasters to respond to complaints and administer industry standards on ethics, journalistic practices, gender portrayal and television violence. Nearly 400 radio and television stations from across Canada are members of the Council.

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This and other recent decisions of the CBSC are available on the World Wide Web at For more information, please contact the National Chair of the CBSC, Ron Cohen, at (###) ###-####.