News Coverage Of Sri Lankan Cricket Win Not A Breach Of Code Of Ethics According To CBSC Regional Council

Ottawa, October 17, 1997 -- The Ontario Regional Council of the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) released its decision today concerning the news coverage of a 1996 Cricket World Cup semi-final win by Sri Lanka.

In its attached decision, the Council responded to a complaint that the program in question, South Asian Newsweek, concentrated on negative issues when reporting the victory during its weekly hour-long news show. The complaint expressed disappointment over the undermining of the championship by giving only negative publicity to Sri Lankan issues, including the Cricket World Cup semi-final victory, whereas other South-East Asian countries received much more positive treatment.

The broadcaster denied any inequitable coverage. CFMT-TV noted that the reporting of this Cricket World Cup match was done on a news, rather than a sports, basis, since the contest had been tainted by a riot which forced it to be called off, an unusual occurrence in a World Cup context. Moreover, the Council pointed out, "As long as the reporting does not breach the standards established in the various industry Codes, the broadcaster is free to tell the story the way it wishes to. Those rules have largely to do with accuracy, absence of bias, non-intermingling of news and editorial comment, avoidance of distortion and sensationalisation, respect for privacy and avoidance of conflict of interest. Once those constraints have been respected, the broadcaster has considerable freedom of choice in the presentation of its news story."

After viewing a tape of the program, the Ontario Regional Council decided that the "newscast did not ignore the Sri Lankan victory, nor did it associate the negative riots with the Sri Lankans; the reporting clearly attributed the riots to the Indian fans. Furthermore, the broadcaster did present a factual and positive account of the Sri Lankan victory, which is evidenced by the interviews with various fans." As a result, this program did not contravene the CAB Code of Ethics.

The CBSC Ontario Regional Council is composed of broadcasters and members of the public. The Chair, a broadcaster representative, is Al MacKay. The Vice-Chair, representing the public, is Robert Stanbury. Other broadcasters on the Regional Council at the time of the decision were Paul Fockler and Madeline Ziniak (who did not participate in this decision since her station was involved). The other public members participating in the decision were Meg Hogarth and Ron Cohen, CBSC National Chair, who participated on an ad hoc basis in the absence of Taanta Gupta.

In addition to administering the CAB Code of Ethics, the CBSC administers broadcasting industry codes on violence, gender portrayal and journalistic ethics. Some 400 private sector radio and television stations and specialty services from across Canada are members of the CBSC. This and all other decisions of the CBSC, the Codes and considerably more related information are available on the World Wide Web at

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