Religious Broadcast’s Comments on Homosexuality Violate CAB Code of Ethics Says Broadcast Standards Council

Ottawa, August 20, 1998 – The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning CKRD-AM (Red Deer)’s broadcast of highlights of a syndicated daily show entitled Focus on the Family which dealt with the subject of homosexuality. A listener complained that the broadcast contained “disparaging remarks regarding homosexuality and gay people in general.”

The Prairie Regional Council considered this complaint under the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB) Code of Ethics. The Council found that the program breached both the human rights provision of this Code, as well as the requirement that opinion, comment and editorial be presented in a way that is “full, fair and proper”. Referring to the CRTC’s Religious Broadcasting Policy, the Council concluded that

Religious programming does not ... have any inherent entitlement to say whatever it wants in the name of religion. The CBSC’s understanding of “full, fair and proper presentation of ... opinion, comment and editorial” is defined by elements such as those provided in the CRTC’s Religious Broadcasting Policy and it is here that CKRD’s broadcast of this segment of Focus in the Family falls afoul of that provision.

While Focus in the Family is free to describe the homosexual lifestyle as sinful ... the program ... has gone much further. It has treated support for the movement as “flimsy” and has disparaged that support (see, for example, the dismissal of a study authored by a gay activist with the general statement that “like all gay science, it really has very flimsy foundations”). Moreover, it has attributed to the gay movement a malevolent, insidious and conspiratorial purpose, a so-called “agenda”, which, in the view of the Council, constitutes abusively discriminatory comment on the basis of sexual orientation, contrary to the provisions of Clause 2 of the CAB Code of Ethics.

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.

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All CBSC decisions, Codes, links to members’ and other web sites, and related information are available on the World Wide Web at