February 2001

Ottawa, February 28, 2001 -- The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning a segment dedicated to the issue of swinging during an episode of W-Five, broadcast by CTV at 8:30 p.m. in Halifax. The segment illustrated the resurgence of the swingers lifestyle in Canada through the experiences of two couples, from clothed interviews to the verge of their sexual interaction near the end of the segment. While the program did not contain any sexually explicit activity, the segment included suggestive scenes that revealed men’s buttocks and women’s breasts. The segment began with the following viewer advisory from the host himself, which was repeated midway through the broadcast: "We caution that this is a mature subject and it is intended for adults." A viewer complained that the segment is "highly inappropriate for the time slot allotted to the program."

With respect to the portrayal of the sexes, the Atlantic Regional Panel found that the segment was "not exploitative with respect to the presentation of either of the sexes vis-à-vis the other", "[n]or was there anything in the segment which would lead anyone to conclude that there is anything negative or degrading stated or suggested with regards to either men or women as a group."

The Panel then considered whether the segment's subject matter was, in terms of the Violence Code's scheduling provisions, intended for adults. While the programming was of the nature of news and public affairs, the Panel's review of prior CBSC decisions regarding the presentation of bare breasts prior to the Watershed led it to conclude that "there can be no doubt that the material went beyond the bare breasts of Strip Tease." In its view,

Here, the bare breasts and buttocks were displayed precisely because they were related to sexual activity. In fact, the discussion of that activity by third parties and by the very participants made it clear that this link was intended. The scenes of groping on the dance floor, the foreplay in the hot tub, the preliminary retirement to bed all make it clear to any viewer that what nakedness is shown is in a sexual context. The Council does not consider that it is necessary that the purpose of the show's producer is to titillate. It suffices that the link between nudity and sexual activity is sufficiently established.

Having concluded that the segment was intended for adults, the Panel had no difficulty in finding that its broadcast pre-Watershed was in breach of the scheduling provision of the Violence Code. With respect to the exception provided in the Code regarding "Canadian distant signal importation", the Panel explained:

It should be clear to broadcasters and members of the public that the exception provided in the Violence Code regarding ACanadian distant signal importation" only applies to the time zone in which the signal originates and not to the time zone in which the programming originates. The difference, in other words, is between the extension over two or three or more time zones of a signal which is transmitted at one instant in time to that broader audience, on the one hand, and the simple delivery of a program (whether by satellite, cassette or other means) on a non-time sensitive basis to the broadcaster which will then deliver the signal to its local audience, on the other. In the first case, the Code protects the originator of the signal; in the second case, it does not.

In this case, the Panel accepted the point that the programming originated in Toronto where it ran at 10:30 p.m.; however, in the Atlantic region, the segment in question was broadcast at about 8:30 p.m., prior to the Watershed and contrary to the Code.

Canada's private broadcasters have themselves created industry standards in the form of Codes on ethics, gender portrayal and television violence by which they expect the members of their profession will abide. In 1990, they also created the CBSC, which is the self-regulatory body with the responsibility of administering those professional broadcast Codes, as well as the Code dealing with journalistic practices first created by the Radio Television News Directors Association of Canada (RTNDA) in 1970. More than 430 radio and television stations and specialty services from across Canada are members of the Council.

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Ottawa, February 7, 2001 -– The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released two separate decisions relating to song lyrics. In the first of these, the song "The Bad Touch" was broadcast by CIGL-FM (Belleville) and, in the second, the song "Boyz in the Hood" was broadcast by CIOX-FM (Ottawa).

In the case of "The Bad Touch", performed by the group Bloodhound Gang, a listener complained about the language used in the song. On the othe hand, the broadcast of the song "Boyz in the Hood", performed by the band Dynamite Hack, resulted in a listener complaining about the "violence against women" depicted in the song, as well as "the extreme nature of [the] lyrics."

The Ontario Regional Council considered the songs under the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ (CAB) Code of Ethics and Sex-Role Portrayal Code, as well as, by inference, the CAB Violence Code.

The Application of the Codes to Songs

Although the CBSC has from time to time received complaints relating to song lyrics, this was the first timemembers of the public had requested that their complaints be referred to a Council for adjudication. After reviewing the many CBSC decisions dealing with such broadcast fare as third party productions, foreign programming, callers’ comments to talk shows, advertising and so on, which made it clear that the Canadian private broadcaster Codes cover all forms of programming, the Council, in its CIGL-FM decision, concluded:

In other words, it is not the intention of the Codes that any material broadcast by any private sector programming undertaking be exempt from consideration thereunder. Whether it is spoken word or set to music, the same rules apply. Music is, after all, no more or less a form of programming than other dramatic, documentary, news or, indeed, advertising material, all of which must conform to the terms of the various Canadian private broadcaster Codes.

The Council also pointed out that broadcasters frequently have more than one version of a song available to them, particularly where the in-store lyrics may not be suitable for air play. They explained

that music recording companies, like distributors of motion pictures, generally create more than one version of their respective products. They understand that, in order to facilitate the responsibilities of broadcasters and to render broadcast markets more accessible to their products, they must provide versions that are susceptible of being aired.

Offensive Language

After reviewing the general principles, the Council, in the case of the song "The Bad Touch", concluded that the words used in the song were not "in and of themselves problematic." In the case of the song "Boyz in the Hood", the Council observed that, while the song contained what is often referred to as "street language" which may be more problematic on radio than television in the absence of "the safeguards available to television viewers, such as the classification system, viewer advisories and rating icons," it found no breach in this case.

Violence Against Women

The more problematic issue regarding the song "Boyz in the Hood" was the song’s depiction of violence against women. In this regard the Council concluded that there had been a breach.

The juxtaposition of lyrics such as "Gotta get my girl to rock that body" with such violent imagery as "I reached back like a pimp and I slapped the ho" clearly perpetuate the link between women in a sexual context and women as victims of violence. The lyrics portray the woman in question as a "stupid bitch" and a "ho", whose "talkin’ shit" warranted the violent reaction by her partner. Whether the intention of the song is serious or satirical, the Council finds that the lyrics, in their sanctioning, promotion or glamorizing of violence against women, constitute abusive commentary on the basis of gender and are insensitive to the dangers of stereotyping generally and to the exploitative linking of sexual and violent elements in dealing with women.

Canada’s private broadcasters have created industry standards in the form of Codes dealing with gender portrayal, violence and ethical issues such as human rights by which they expect the members of their profession will abide. They have also established the CBSC, the self-regulatory body responsible for the administration of those professional Codes, as well as the Radio and Television News Directors Code dealing with journalistic practices. More than 460 Canadian radio and television stations and specialty services are members of the Council.

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All CBSC decisions, Codes, links to members' and other web sites, and related information are available on the CBSC's website at www.cbsc.ca. For more information, please contact the CBSC National Chair, Mme Andrée Noël CBSC Executive Director, John MacNab