‘Kingly’ Reference in Raptors’ Basketball Game Not Inappropriate According to Broadcast Standards Council

Ottawa, July 21, 1998 -- The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning the broadcast of a Toronto Raptors Basketball Game on CKVR-TV on November 26, 1997. At the start of the game against the Sacramento Kings the announcer stated that “...the cry in the Skydome is ‘Bring down the Monarchy.'” Following about 35 seconds of music, dance, cheerleading and basketball shots, there was a simulated scoreboard lighting spelling out “Assassinate the Kings”.

A viewer complained that “the words ‘King’ and ‘Assassinate’ in the same sentence are associated with the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.” and “this type of talk is not responsible broadcasting.”

The CBSC’s Ontario Regional Council considered the complaint under the Code of Ethics and the Violence Code of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB). The Council noted that, apart from the fact that the Raptors were playing the Kings of Sacramento, the only other “kingly” reference had been to the monarchy not to the late civil rights leader. In the Council’s view,

few persons would have made the association made by the complainants in the light of the references to the Sacramento Kings and the monarchy. However unfortunate the juxtaposition of the words “Assassination” and “King”, the Council does not consider it reasonable to hold the broadcaster liable for a breach of the Code.

Insofar as the provision of the Violence Code dealing with violence in sports programming is concerned, the Council did not consider that the broadcaster was either promoting or exploiting violent action in any way, much less “violent action which is outside the sanctioned activity of the sport in question” to quote the provision in question.

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.

– 30 –

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 (###) ###-####.