Unusual Circumstances Spare Broadcasters from Breach of Obligation to Retain and Deliver Logger Tapes, Says Canadian Broadcast Standards Council

Ottawa, March 4, 2008 - The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning the failure of Victoriaville stations CFDA-FM and CFGO-FM to retain and deliver logger tapes for a June 7, 2007 broadcast. Although the broadcasters were unable to deliver the recording of the program, due to the unusual circumstances encountered on this occasion, the CBSC’s Quebec Regional Panel did not conclude that the Victoriaville stations had breached their CBSC membership obligations.

In order to render decisions on complaints, the CBSC always reviews the logger tapes of the challenged broadcast.  As a matter of practice, it advises the broadcaster to hold the tapes when the Council receives the complaint, which must occur during the 28 days following the broadcast, since broadcasters are not obliged to hold the tapes after the expiry of that period.  In the present case, the broadcasters explained that the electronic correspondence from the CBSC was never received and, as a result, they had recycled the logger tapes.  The broadcasters speculated that their failure to receive the CBSC request was due to the addition of a new spam filter to their computer system at that time.

In the absence of the recording of the broadcast, the Panel was unable to evaluate the program content.  As to the principle that “broadcasters must retain logger tapes requested by the CBSC securely until their delivery is asked for, when they must ensure their remittance to the CBSC,” the Quebec Regional Panel concluded as follows:

It might seem, therefore, that CFDA-FM and CFGO-FM have breached the broadcaster’s membership obligations in the present instance, but the Quebec Regional Panel finds an important wrinkle here that it has not previously encountered.  The broadcasters’ General Manager and their Program Director advised that they never received the CBSC’s customary e-mailed direction to retain the logger tapes of the challenged program.  Since the CBSC Secretariat never received a bounce-back indication of unsuccessful delivery, it appears as though the e-mail was received.  That being said, it may well have been routed into a spam filtering system.  Were that the case, the full responsibility to retain the logger tapes would remain with the broadcaster.  Because the CBSC cannot be aware of what actually occurred and because the CBSC Secretariat did not follow up in its customary assiduous manner, due to personnel changes at the Council, the Panel can only conclude that, on this occasion, the broadcasters will not be found in breach of their membership obligation to retain and deliver logger tapes.  They are, however, advised to ensure that appropriate priority be attributed to the receipt of requests of this nature in future.

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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