“Ed The Sock” Not Offensive, According To Broadcast Standards Council

Ottawa, February 22, 1996 – The Ontario Regional Council of the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) released its decision today concerning a promotional announcement aired on Toronto’s CITY-TV.

The CBSC received a complaint from a viewer who wrote that, during the airing of Star Trek Voyageur, CITY-TV had broadcast promotional announcements featuring a sock puppet named Ed the Sock. The puppet character made comments about the film, comments which, the viewer felt, “were clear references to masturbation and erections ... in very poor taste and well exceeded the guidelines for offending public standards.” CITY-TV, however, responded that the promotional announcements contained humour subtle enough that only mature viewers would understand it, and that, in the station’s view, the announcements were not offensive.

After viewing a tape of the film, including the promotional material aired during the film, the CBSC’s Ontario Regional Council agreed that the “Ed the Sock” promotional announcements contained humour that would have been understood by adult viewers. The Council added that the announcements were scheduled at a time when adults would be watching television. While the viewer might not have found the announcements humorous, the Regional Council believed that they were not contrary to the industry’s Code of Ethics.

The CBSC Ontario Regional Council includes equal representation from the general public and from the broadcasting industry. The Chair at the time of the decision was Marianne Barrie, a representative of the public. The Vice-Chair, a broadcaster, is Al MacKay. Other broadcasters on the Regional Council are Paul Fockler and Madeline Ziniak (not present for the decision), while the other public members are Taanta Gupta and Robert Stanbury. The Council’s decision was unanimous.

Created to administer codes and standards for Canada’s private sector broadcasters, the CBSC has approximately 400 radio and television station members from across Canada. The Council adminsters the industry’s Code of Ethics, the Voluntary Code Regarding Violence in Television Programming, the Sex-Role Portrayal Code and a code of journalistic ethics.

– 30 –

For more information, please contact the National Chair of the CBSC, Ronald I. Cohen, at (###) ###-####.