“Heritage Minute” Public Service Announcement Not In Breach of the Sex-Role Portrayal Code

Ottawa, July 15 , 1998 -- The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning a Public Service Announcement (PSA) entitled “Rural Teacher”, based on the painting “Meeting of the School Trustees” by Robert Harris, which was produced as part of the “Heritage Minutes” project.

The PSA depicts a female school teacher justifying her work and methods to the all male school trustees. A viewer complained that “this ad...mentioned only women as teachers and implied strongly that Canadians [owed] their education to young women only”. In the complainant’s view, this constituted a false and misleading representation of Canadian history”.

The Ontario Regional Council considered the complaint under the Sex-Role Portrayal Code for Television and Radio Programming. It concluded that the broadcast in question did not violate the provisions of this Code. The Council noted that the Sex-Role Portrayal Code has as a stated intent “to assist in overcoming systemic discrimination portrayed in broadcast programming, based on gender.” In the Council’s view,

this PSA, like many others which also emphasize the role played by women in Canadian history, is in keeping with the spirit and the letter of the Code’s stated intent as it seeks to redress the near absence of women in the annals of history.

The Council noted that it found it ironic “that the complainant raises no voice regarding the depiction of all of the school trustees, the positions of power in the school, as men.”

Canada’s private broadcasters have created industry standards in the form of Codes on ethics, gender portrayal and television violence by which they expect their members will abide. They also created the CBSC, which is the self-regulatory body with the responsibility of administering those Codes, as well as the Code dealing with journalistic practices created by the Radio Television News Directors Association Canada (RTNDA). More than 430 radio and television stations and specialty services from across Canada 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 World Wide Web at www.cbsc.ca. For more information, please contact the National Chair of the CBSC, Ron Cohen, at (###) ###-####.