Misidentification of Protestors Constitutes Code Breach

Ottawa, October 23, 2013 - The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning an episode of The Source broadcast on Sun News Network on January 23, 2013. The host of the public affairs discussion program misidentified protestors in a video clip. The CBSC found the station in violation of the CAB Code of Ethics for the error. The CBSC did not, however, require the station to make an announcement on air because Levant had already acknowledged the error in a subsequent episode of his program.

The host of The Source, Ezra Levant, showed videoclips of a protest that had occurred outside the Sun’s Toronto office. The protestors objected to Sun Media’s coverage of the Idle No More movement. A few days later, Levant replayed the clips, saying that, following their initial broadcast, he had received information from viewers about who some of the protestors were. He identified one couple by their names, stating that they were “professional protestors” who had engaged in other protest activity.

The CBSC received a complaint from the identified woman, who asserted that she was not the person in the clip as she had not attended the Sun Media protest and had not even been in Toronto at the time. She also complained that Levant had tarnished her reputation and that of her husband by accusing them of being professional protestors and using the Aboriginal movement to cause a “ruckus”.

The CBSC’s National Specialty Services Panel concluded that Sun News Network breached Clause 6 of the CAB Code of Ethics for including inaccurate information in the talk show. Levant had acknowledged his error on the February 8 episode of The Source.

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. Nearly 790 radio stations, satellite radio services, television stations and specialty and pay television services 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 CBSC’s website at www.cbsc.ca. For more information, please contact the CBSC National Chair, Mme Andrée Noël CBSC Executive Director, John MacNab