“Newfie Joke” Breaches Industry Code of Ethics, According to Broadcast Standards Council

Ottawa, October 9, 1996 – The Quebec Regional Council of the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) released its decision today concerning a "Newfie joke" broadcast on Gatineau's CKTF-FM.

A CKTF listener had complained that during an afternoon program on February 28, 1994, a host on the station told a joke regarding two skiers from Newfoundland visiting a Gatineau-area ski centre. The joke concluded by calling the Newfoundland skiers "assholes." The listener wrote that the on-air remarks constituted "a negative racial slur" which reinforced a "stereotype against Newfoundlanders as being stupid". He added that the remarks were even more offensive given that they were broadcast in French, a language which most people from Newfoundland did not speak.

In response, the station's General Manager apologized to the listener, adding that the host had been reprimanded and reminded of the station's policies regarding broadcast programming. The General Manager felt that these measures would help ensure that such remarks would not be aired again. The listener, unsatisfied with this response, asked the CBSC's Quebec Regional Council to consider the matter.

In its decision, the Regional Council concluded that the remarks contravened the industry's Code of Ethics, which states that broadcasters should ensure that their programming contains no abusive or discriminatory material or comment based on ethnic origin. In the Council's words, "the depiction of 'Newfies' as 'assholes' was clearly unacceptable. Whether intended seriously or in jocular fashion, the use of that term in reference to this or any ethnic, racial, national or other discernible group was derogatory, abusive and discriminatory and in violation of clause 2 of the CAB Code of Ethics."

The CBSC Quebec Regional Council includes representatives of the public and the broadcasting industry. For this decision, Jocelyn Deschênes, Yvon Chouinard and Luc Harvey represented broadcasters. Pierre Audet and Ron Cohen represented the public.

Created in 1990 as the organization for self-regulation of private sector broadcasters, the CBSC's membership includes some 400 radio and television stations from across Canada. The Council administers industry codes on ethics, journalistic practices, gender portrayal and television violence.

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For more information, please contact CBSC National Chair Ron Cohen at (###) ###-####.