Issue 3: Speakers cornered: Should Canada regulate around issues of taste?
By: Ronald Cohen
Censor implies mandated restriction, imposition rather than selfcontrol.
• It is a provocative term to describe what might reasonably be characterized as the societal comfort of
the preservation of values and order on the airwaves.
• The point is that freedom of expression must take its place with other societal rights, those that,
essentially, entitle audiences to be free from certain broadcast matter. Not all nasty, disagreeable,
insulting, violent, coarse, sexually explicit, or otherwise offensive content that is broadcast need to be
protectively cocooned in order for us to be confident that the state will survive.
• We live in an age of twoway access. There is, of course access by us to content on an increasing
number of platforms, but also growing access to us by content providers.
• Almost any of these genres may include content that is potentially offensive to someone, whether on
the basis of coarse language, abusive comment, violence, nudity, sexual content, other adult themes,
bad taste, the forceful expression of a political point of view, or religious proselytizing.
• The American system “protects” its citizenry against an errant, briefly exposed nipple or buttocks, or a
fleeting expletive, but not against homophobic or religious diatribes.
• In Canada, we have the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC), which administers various
codes that are regulatory basis for evaluating all complaints about content aired on private broadcast
stations, networks, and services, has decided on numerous occasions that nudity will not injure
audiences (no matter what time of day it is broadcast), while abusive or unduly discriminatory comment
based on skin colour, nationality, religion, gender, and sexual orientation may have such an unwanted
• First, airwaves are publically owned. Second, while important spectrum is no longer as scarce
as once it was (before the digital era), the access to individual markets is limited.
The First Amendment provides that “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech, or
of the press.”
• Section 2(b) of the Canadian Charter is framed differently as “freedom of thought, belief, opinion, and
expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication.”
• Canadian Radiotelevision telecommunications Council, the Federal Court of Appeal and CBSC that
handle inquires on the “reasonable” limits posed in the Charter.
• People have been convicted for using abusive language of commenting on skin colour and mental
• The point really is that, whatever either constitutional provision sounds like, free speech is not totally
free in either the United States or Canada. “Free” is in the relative term, reflecting the values and
concerns of each country, and that is as it should be. • American jock, Howard Stern was referred to as too explicit on the radio as he called the French and
women degrading expressions such as sluts and pussies.
• Charles McVerty referred to gays and lesbians, the CSBC summarized distinction between acceptable
and unacceptable commentary on that subject. CBSC explained anyone can characterize homosexual
as a sin, criticize their orientation issues like gay marriage and gay adoption, gov’t funding and LGBT
issues. However, programs include extremely negative, insulting, nasty generalizations about the group
of persons based on their sexual orientation will not be tolerated.
• Muslim derogatory comments by other whites were further concluded by the Prairie Regional Panel,
that said Muslims are not responsible for all Western terrorism because than all white people would be
responsible for KKK community how committed worse crimes.
• The various CBSC panes called upon to deal with aggressive comments by the above individuals have
been careful to distinguish the nature and extent of the comments.
• The more extreme comments have been found in breach of the human rights clause of the Canadian
Association of Broadcasters (CAB) code of ethics.
• The Canadian Solution: Canada’s private broadcasters, however, have applied a common solution to
these public rights and to human rights. In these and other areas they have codified the standards by
which they consider and the public would be well served, these are administered by the CBSC.
• The CRTC is the regulatory authority with ultimate jurisdiction in all aspects of broadcasting, but as a
general rule, it limits its interventions in content issues to public broadcasters and those few private
broadcasters that are not members of CBSC.
• United States limits its content differently; its Federal Communication Commission has been primarily
concerned with indecency.
Issue3: Speakers Cornered: Should Canada regulate around issues of taste?
By: Josh Paterson
• Listeners complained on the topic a shock jock radio host joking about the issue of euthanasia.
• Disabled and the like may have found this hurtful, others would find in offensive.
• Shock jocks: are radio personalities whose shows aim to entertain—often by saying offensive things.
Almost always, they are controversial with racist and sexist remarks.
• While the promotion of equality is an important goal in a democracy, censorship is a clumsy tool that
can do a lot more harm than good.
• Furthermore, it restricts freedom of expression, a vital feature of democratic society.
• Also, censoring offensive opinions and humour has not been shown to help promote understanding and
equality. Hiding prejudice views ensures nobody can challenge them—because no is allowed to hear
them. • CRTC mission is to regulate radio and television, and telecommunications in the public interest.
o They do not have the power to tell what can and cannot be put on air, other than specifying
Canadian content regulations.
• The CRTC is not meant to act as a board of censors with a power of prior restraint, which prohibits
material from being heard or seen at all.
• The refusal to renew a license can be based on the broadcaster’s failure to comply with broadcasting
industry’s selfimposed code of ethics or with the CRTC’s moralitybased regulations.
• The CRTC refused to renew Quebec’s radio CHOI because the shock jocks were found using racist,
sexist and offensive remarks. It found that the broadcasts violated the law because they did not
constitute programming that reflects Canadian values and did not reflect the right to equality.
• Even when the CRTC does not go so far as to actually refuse a license renewal, it can threaten to do
so, or issue fines, if stations continue to broadcast objectionable material.
• The Radio Regulations of 1986 state that “a licensee shall not broadcast…any abusive comment that,
when taken into context tends to or is likely to expose a individual or a group or class of individuals to
hatred or contempt on the basis of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, sexual
orientation, age or mental or physical disability.
• The Broadcasting Act sets out that Canadian broadcasting system should be “safeguard, enrich,
strengthen the cultural, political, social and economic fabric of Canada” and requires programming to
be of “high standard.”
• The CRTC also bases its decision on the code of ethics of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters,
which prohibits the broadcast on radio of all content, that is “unduly sexually explicit.”
• The CRTC has agreed on standards in cooperation with the broadcasting industry, which is largely
responsible for selfregulation.
1. Scarcity of the Radio Broadcast Spectrum
o Radio spectrum scarcity implies that there is competition for freetoair broadcasting. In other
words, that if one station is using a particular frequency, another station is deprived of the
ability to use the same frequency.
o Scarcity is a notion that effectively applies uniquely to those media using the airwaves, not to
media across the board because other media do not licenses to be established.
2. Public Trust of the Airwaves
o Government created the legal fiction that the airwaves are a public trust, it is a fiction because
it is impossible for anyone to have actual possession of the broadcast spectrum; it is difficult to
possess something that cannot be seen or touched.
o Concept of public ownership of the airwaves allows the government to set up a system in which
it grants a license to a broadcaster in exchange for a promise that the broadcaster will act as a
trustee over the public resource of broadcast bandwidth, using it in the public interest. o Internet has no broadcast regulators. Even to put a cap on for children would hinder the access
3. Protection of Children
o They argue that the broadcast media are uniquely accessible to children, and that children are
not as likely to gain access to inappropriate material through other media.
o However, the child who seeks it out may accidently happen across it with some frequency,
depending on the terms they use their Internet searching.
o Problematic because adults will not be able to hearing material that is deemed unfit for
o The rights of adults to listen to a wide range of material, part of their freedom of expression, is
constricted by protections ostensibly aimed at children.
4. Pervasiveness of Broadcast Media
o The concern has been what the children might hear rather than about what adults will be
exposed to, and the harm that the messages can create.
o Marketplace model: conforming to rules by realizing they are losing listeners, advertisers so
they will eventually come into line with community standards.
o Collective action through government regulation is seen as necessary to balance the
relationship between broadcasters and the public.
o Argument supposes that media woks hard to shape individual consumers choices, consumer
choices ought to be taken