Financial Advice Program Doesn’t Breach Sex-Role Code

Ottawa, May 15, 1997 -- The Ontario Regional Council of the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) released its decision today concerning a financial advice program, “Family Fortune”, aired on CFRA (Ottawa).

The decision concerns an episode of the 90-second feature aired in February 1996, which dealt with the question of unnecessary interest charges on credit cards. While the program billed itself as “dedicated to the financial issues affecting women and their families”, the advice provided was not oriented toward either sex. Nonetheless, a CFRA listener complained that the program excluded men by portraying women as the sole and exclusive decision-makers and the beneficiaries of family life. He added that the CFRA programming lacked balance, since fathers were not mentioned on these programs, and that in airing “Family Fortune”, CFRA had violated the industry’s Sex-Role Portrayal Code. In response, CFRA pointed out that the program contained practical advice on financial decisions and related matters and that, while it focussed on issues that were important to women, the content did not exclude men; furthermore, their demographics showed that many men also listened to it. The listener was unsatisfied with this response and asked the CBSC to have its Ontario Regional Council review the matter.

In its decision (attached), the Ontario Regional Council affirmed that the language of “Family Fortune” was absolutely gender-neutral and that there was not even a trace of a sexist approach to the subject addressed in the program. While the program was described as dedicated to financial issues affecting women and their families, the description in itself did not imply that the program was not useful to other listeners. Like many programs, “Family Fortune” had a target audience. In the Council’s words, however, “that it may be aimed at women does not make it any more sexist, discriminatory or exclusive than targeting any particular demographic group in the creation or airing of any show.” Men were neither improperly nor inequitably portrayed, and CFRA did not breach the industry’s Sex-Role Portrayal 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 For more information, please contact the National Chair of the CBSC, Ron Cohen, at (###) ###-####.