Host’s Comments Mislead re Contest’s Random Selection, Says Canadian Broadcast Standards Council

Ottawa, December 21, 2016 -- The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning a contest segment broadcast on CISS-FM (KiSS FM, Ottawa) in March 2016.  Although the contestant was randomly selected, the on-air host made it sound like she had hand-picked the contestant, thus creating a misleading impression contrary to the Contest provision of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ (CAB) Code of Ethics.

The contest was entitled “Big Bag of Cash”. Listeners had to listen for a cue-to-text and then send a text message to the station for a chance to play a game on air to win money.  Each contestant was to be chosen randomly from among all eligible text messages received.  On March 21, just before starting the game, the host told one contestant that she had chosen her text message because she liked the emoticons in it.

A listener complained that choosing a text message in this manner contravened the station’s own rules regarding random selection. The station said it investigated the matter and found that the contestant had in fact been randomly selected; the host had only said she picked the emoticon message to provide an entertaining intro to the segment and create a rapport with the contestant.

The CBSC examined the complaint under the Contest provision (Clause 12) of the CAB Code of Ethics, which requires that contests be conducted fairly and legitimately and are not misleading.  The CBSC concluded that the host’s comments clearly left the impression that the contest rules had not been followed and therefore the broadcast violated the code.

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 7 codes which deal with ethics, equitable portrayal, violence, news and journalistic independence.  Around 800 radio stations, satellite radio services, television stations and specialty and pay television services across Canada participate in 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 . For more information, please contact the CBSC National Chair, Andrée Noël, at or CBSC Executive Director, John MacNab, at or by telephone at (613) 233-4607.