Ottawa, April 11, 2018 – The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning a news report about a motorcycle crash that aired on CHEK-DT (Victoria, BC) on September 11, 2017. The CBSC concluded that CHEK breached the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ (CAB) Violence Code for not providing a warning before broadcasting footage of the crash.
During its 5:00 pm CHEK News broadcast, the station reported that police were investigating a fatal crash between a motorcycle and a truck. The station aired footage that had been captured by a nearby security camera, which showed the accident from a distance and partially obscured by the security camera’s time code. It showed a motorcycle being struck by a truck and then toppling over. The footage was repeated in slow motion. The report informed viewers that the motorcyclist had not survived, and provided his sex, age and town of residence.
Two viewers complained that it was inappropriate to show footage of an accident in which a person died, especially without any prior warnings to viewers. They also suggested that it violated the driver’s privacy. The station pointed out that the footage was grainy and recorded from far away, though it did acknowledge that warnings would have been useful. It highlighted that the broadcast had not identified the motorcycle driver by name.
The CBSC’s English-Language Panel examined the complaint under the News article of the CAB Violence Code which requires broadcasters to exercise discretion in reporting on violent incidents and to advise viewers in advance of showing extraordinary violence. The Panel concluded that CHEK was justified in showing the footage, but that it should have preceded the clip with a warning to viewers. The Panel also concluded that CHEK did not violate the privacy article of the Radio Television Digital News Association’s Code of Journalistic Ethics because the report would not have allowed viewers to identify the motorcycle driver.
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 at . For more information, please contact the CBSC Chair, Sylvie Courtemanche, at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 613-233-4607.