Objectification of Persons of Small Stature is Unacceptable

Ottawa, July 24, 2012 - The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning the broadcast of a videoclip on RDS.  The clip showed a man with dwarfism being used as a bowling ball.  The CBSC concluded that the clip portrayed people of small stature in an unduly discriminatory and negative manner contrary to the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ (CAB) Code of Ethics and Equitable Portrayal Code.

RDS’s sports magazine program 5 à 7 contains a segment entitled “Laprise branché!” hosted by commentator Michel Laprise.  On November 15, 2011, Laprise showed a videoclip, which a viewer had sent to him, of a man with dwarfism being used as a bowling ball by people of regular size.  Laprise joked that this bowling activity requires only [translations] “a sheet of rubber, “oil”, “a dwarf with a sense of humour”, and “a single sister-in-law who is willing to date a dwarf just during the holiday season”.

The Quebec Association of Persons of Short Stature complained to the CBSC about the harassing and degrading depiction of persons of short stature.  RDS pointed out that Laprise had apologized on air a week after the broadcast.

The CBSC’s Quebec Regional Panel examined the complaint under the Human Rights Clauses of the CAB Code of Ethics and Equitable Portrayal Code as well as under the provisions of the Equitable Portrayal Code relating to negative portrayal, stigmatization and victimization, and degrading material.  The Panel concluded that the broadcast violated all of those Code provisions because “the segment presented persons of small stature as mere objects of humour and ridicule.”

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 750 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