Social Policy Issues > Codes > Code of Ethics
Canadian Association of Broadcasters'
Code of Ethics
Administered by the
Canadian Broadcast Standards Council
(revised June 2002)
TABLE OF CONTENTS
purpose of this Code of Ethics is to document the realization by proprietors
and managers of broadcasting stations, networks and specialty services
("broadcasters"), that, as an integral part in the media of
communications of this nation, their first responsibility is to the radio
listeners and television viewers of Canada for the dissemination of information
and news, the supply of a variety of entertainment programming to meet
the various tastes of listeners and viewers, and the necessity for ethical
business standards in dealing with advertisers and their agencies.
is recognized that the most valuable asset of a broadcaster is public
respect, which must be earned and can be maintained only by adherence
to the highest possible standards of public service and integrity.
electronic form of publication known as private commercial broadcasting
is a highly competitive business devoted to provision of service to the
public in all its interests - business, political, recreational, informational,
cultural and educational - for profit.
from advertising make possible non-government broadcasting and make all
types of programmes available to the Canadian people including news, information,
education, and entertainment. Each broadcaster is responsible for
the programming of the licensed station, network or service. This
responsibility can only be met by bringing influence to bear upon all
who have a hand in the production of programs including sponsors, producers
of live and recorded programs, advertising agencies and talent agencies.
Clause 1 - General Programming
the varied tastes of the public it shall be the responsibility of broadcasters
to so program the various stations, networks and services that, as far
as possible, all groups of listeners and viewers shall have from these,
some part of the programming devoted to their special likes and desires.
Clause 2 - Human Rights
that every person has the right to full and equal recognition and to enjoy
certain fundamental rights and freedoms, broadcasters shall ensure that
their programming contains no abusive or unduly discriminatory material
or comment which is based on matters of race, national or ethnic origin,
colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status or physical
or mental disability.
Clause 3 - Sex-Role Stereotyping
that stereotyping images can and do have a negative effect, it shall be
the responsibility of broadcasters to exhibit, to the best of their ability,
a conscious sensitivity to the problems related to sex-role stereotyping,
by refraining from exploitation and by the reflection of the intellectual
and emotional equality of both sexes in programming. Broadcasters
shall refer to the Sex-Role Portrayal Code for Television and Radio Programming
for more detailed provisions in this area.
Clause 4 - Children's Programs
programs designed specifically for children reach impressionable minds
and influence social attitudes and aptitudes, it shall be the responsibility
of broadcasters to provide the closest possible supervision in the
selection and control of material, characterizations and plot.
|Nothing in the
foregoing shall mean that the vigour and vitality common to children's
imaginations and love of adventure should be removed. It does
mean that such programs should be based upon sound social concepts
and presented with a superior degree of craftsmanship, and that these
programs should reflect the moral and ethical standards of contemporary
Canadian society and encourage pro-social behaviour and attitudes.
Broadcasters should encourage parents to select from the richness
of broadcasting fare the best programs to be brought to the attention
of their children.
shall refer to the Voluntary Code Regarding Violence in Television
Programming for special provisions relating to the depiction of
violence in children's programming.
Clause 5 - News
|It shall be the
responsibility of broadcasters to ensure that news shall be represented
with accuracy and without bias. Broadcasters shall satisfy themselves
that the arrangements made for obtaining news ensure this result.
They shall also ensure that news broadcasts are not editorial.
|News shall not
be selected for the purpose of furthering or hindering either side
of any controversial public issue, nor shall it be formulated on the
basis of the beliefs, opinions or desires of management, the editor
or others engaged in its preparation or delivery. The fundamental
purpose of news dissemination in a democracy is to enable people to
know what is happening, and to understand events so that they may
form their own conclusions.
|Nothing in the
foregoing shall be understood as preventing broadcasters from analyzing
and elucidating news so long as such analysis or comment is clearly
labeled as such and kept distinct from regular news presentations.
Broadcasters are also entitled to provide editorial opinion, which
shall be clearly labeled as such and kept entirely distinct from regular
broadcasts of news or analysis.
shall refer to the Code of Ethics of the Radio and Television News
Directors of Canada ("RTNDA") for more detailed provisions
regarding broadcast journalism in general and to the Voluntary
Code Regarding Violence in Television Programming for guidance
with respect to the depiction of violence, graphic reporting of delicate
subject matter or the use of explicit language in news and public
affairs programming on television.
Clause 6 - Full, Fair and Proper Presentation
recognized that the full, fair and proper presentation of news, opinion,
comment and editorial is the prime and fundamental responsibility of each
broadcaster. This principle shall apply to all radio and television
programming, whether it relates to news, public affairs, magazine, talk,
call-in, interview or other broadcasting formats in which news, opinion,
comment or editorial may be expressed by broadcaster employees, their
invited guests or callers.
Clause 7 - Controversial Public Issues
in a democracy the necessity of presenting all sides of a public issue,
it shall be the responsibility of broadcasters to treat fairly all subjects
of a controversial nature. Time shall be allotted with due regard
to all the other elements of balanced program schedules, and the
degree of public interest in the questions presented. Recognizing
that healthy controversy is essential to the maintenance of democratic
institutions, broadcasters will endeavour to encourage the presentation
of news and opinion on any controversy which contains an element of the
Clause 8 - Religious Programming
should endeavour to make available to the community adequate opportunity
for presentation of religious messages and should also endeavour to assist
in all ways open to them the furtherance of religious activities in the
community. Recognizing the purpose of the religious broadcast to
be that of promoting the spiritual harmony and understanding of humanity
and of administering broadly to the varied religious needs of the community,
it shall be the responsibility of each broadcaster to ensure that its
religious broadcasts, which reach persons of all creeds and races simultaneously,
shall not be used to convey attacks upon another race or religion.
Clause 9 - Radio Broadcasting
that radio is a local medium and, consequently, reflective of local community
standards, programming broadcast on a local radio station shall take into
consideration the generally recognized access to programming content available
in the market, the demographic composition of the station's audience,
and the station's format. Within this context, particular care shall be
taken by radio broadcasters to ensure that programming on their stations
does not contain:
|Gratuitous violence in any form, or otherwise sanction, promote or glamorize violence;
|Unduly sexually explicit material; and/or
|Unduly coarse and offensive language.
Clause 10 - Television Broadcasting
contains sexually explicit material or coarse or offensive language
intended for adult audiences shall not be telecast before the late
viewing period, defined as 9 pm to 6 am. Broadcasters shall refer
to the Voluntary Code Regarding Violence in Television Programming
for provisions relating to the scheduling of programming containing
depictions of violence.
there are older children watching television after 9 pm, broadcasters
shall adhere to the provisions of Clause 11 below (viewer advisories),
enabling viewers to make an informed decision as to the suitability
of the programming for themselves and their family members.
|In order to provide
viewers with the benefit of Canadian program classification and viewer
advisories not available on foreign distant signals, broadcasters
which have CRTC-permitted substitution rights over programming which
is imported into their markets before the late viewing period, may
employ substitution, notwithstanding Clause 10(a).
shall take special precautions to advise viewers of the content
of programming intended for adult audiences, which is telecast before
9 pm in accordance with Clause 10(c).
accommodate the reality of time zone differences, and Canadian distant
signal importation, these guidelines shall be applied to the time
zone in which the signal originates.)
which contains sexually explicit material or coarse or offensive language
intended for adult audiences shall not be telecast before 9 pm.
which contain sexually explicit material or coarse or offensive language
intended for adult audiences, such as those for theatrically presented
feature films, shall not be telecast before 9 pm.
Clause 11 - Viewer Advisories
consumers in making their viewing choices, when programming includes mature
subject matter or scenes with nudity, sexually explicit material, coarse
or offensive language, or other material susceptible of offending viewers,
broadcasters shall provide a viewer advisory
|at the beginning
of, and after every commercial break during the first hour of programming
telecast in late viewing hours which contains such material which
is intended for adult audiences, or
|at the beginning
of, and after every commercial break during programming telecast outside
of late viewing hours which contains such material which is not suitable
language for suitable viewer advisories is outlined in Appendix A.
The suggestions are meant as possible illustrations; broadcasters are
encouraged to adopt wording which is likeliest to provide viewers with
the most relevant and useful information regarding the programming to
which it applies.
Clause 12 - Contests and Promotions
contests and promotions shall be conceived and conducted fairly and legitimately
and particular care shall be taken to ensure that they are not misleading,
potentially dangerous or likely to give rise to a public inconvenience
or disturbance and that any prizes offered or promises made are what they
are represented to be.
Clause 13 - Advertising (General Principles)
service that commercial sponsors render to listeners and viewers in
making known to them the goods and services available in their communities
and realizing that the story of such goods and services goes into
the intimacy of the home, it shall be the responsibility of broadcasters
and their sales representatives to work with advertisers and agencies
in improving the technique of telling the advertising story so that
these shall be simple, truthful and believable, and shall not offend
prevailing community standards of tolerability.
to be made most effective not only by the use of an appropriate selling
message but by earning the most favourable reaction of the public
to the sponsor by providing the best possible programming. Nothing
in the foregoing shall prevent the dramatization of the use, value
or attractiveness of products and services. While appropriate
legislation protects the public from false and exaggerated claims
for drugs, proprietary medicines and foods, it shall be the responsibility
of broadcasters and their sales representatives to work with the advertisers
of these products and the advertising agencies to ensure that their
value and use are told in words that are not offensive. Recognizing
also that advertising appeals or commentaries by any advertiser that
cast reflection upon the operation of a competitor or other industry
or business are destructive of public confidence, it shall be the
responsibility of broadcasters, so far as it lies within their power
to do so, to prevent such advertising appeals or commentaries from
shall refer to the Voluntary Code Regarding Violence in Television
Programming with respect to the rules on the advertising of promotional
material or advertisements containing scenes of violence. Broadcasters
shall also adhere to the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards,
the Gender Portrayal Guidelines, the Broadcast Code for Advertising
to Children, and the Code for Broadcast Advertising of Alcoholic
Beverages, all of which are administered by Advertising Standards
Canada. The aforementioned Codes and Guidelines are all subject
to endorsement by the Canadian Association of Broadcasters from time
Clause 14 - Advertising (Details)
recognize that they are responsible for the acceptability of advertising
material they broadcast. All commercials must conform to applicable
laws and regulations.
shall ensure that advertising material within a newscast is clearly
distinguishable from the news information adjacent to it. To
this end, any commercial message broadcast within a newscast should
not be read by the newsreader.
shall ensure that there is no influence by advertisers, or the perception
of such influence, on the reporting of news or public affairs, which
must be accurate, balanced, and objective, with fairness and integrity
being the paramount considerations governing its reporting.
Clause 15 - Prohibition of Subliminal Devices
must take all reasonable steps to avoid broadcasting any advertising material
or program that makes use of any subliminal technique or device, which
means any technique or device that is used to convey or attempt to convey
a message to a person by means of images or sounds of very brief duration,
or by any other means, without that person being aware that such a device
is being used, or being aware of the substance of the message being conveyed
or attempted to be conveyed.
Clause 16 - Community Activities
be the responsibility of each broadcaster to serve to the utmost of its
ability the interests of its particular community and to identify itself
actively with worthwhile community activities.
Clause 17 - Education
recognizing that all programs possess, by their very nature, some educational
value, broadcasters will do all in their power to make specific educational
efforts as useful and entertaining as possible. To that end, they
will continue to use their time and facilities and to cooperate with appropriate
educational groups in an attempt to augment the educational and cultural
influences of school, institutions of higher learning, the home and other
institutions devoted to education and culture. When practical, advantage
should be taken of opportunities to consult such institutions on what
suitable material is available and how it may best be presented.
Where practical, factual material for public enlightenment should be included
by broadcasters, advertisers and their agencies.
Clause 18 - Employees
broadcaster shall endeavour to secure the highest calibre of persons
who are qualified for and suitable to the duties for which each
is hired. Every attempt shall be made to make service in the
broadcasting industry an attractive and permanent career, permitting
employees to contribute through their manner of living and personal
achievements to the station's prestige in the community. Each
employee shall receive, in addition to minimum guarantees provided
by applicable legislation, fair remuneration and treatment in accordance
with the standards prevailing in the particular community at any
time. The general intent of this section is realization that
any industry is most often judged by the type of employees it attracts,
the manner in which they conduct themselves and are able to live
and the opinion of the industry for which they work. Recognizing
this as a valuable asset, the broadcaster will do everything possible
to maintain and further the best type of staff relations.
should refer to the Employment Equity Act, the Employment
Equity Regulations, 1986, the 1992 Policy on Gender Portrayal
(P.N. CRTC 1992-58, September 1, 1992) and Implementation of an
Employment Equity Policy (P.N. CRTC 1992-59, September 1, 1992)
for the rules and policies relating to employment equity issues.
Appendix A - Viewer Advisories
Broadcasters may preface their advisories with the following:
a member of the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council, CXXX -TV is pleased
to provide this viewer advisory."
a member of the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council, CXXX-TV is providing
this advisory to assist its viewers in making their program choices"
following are examples of advisories pertaining to sexually explicit material,
coarse or offensive language intended for adult audiences, or other subject
matter. They are provided as a guide to assist broadcasters in fulfilling
their obligations to the CAB Code of Ethics, to ensure their viewers
are provided with adequate information in making their program selection.
Each broadcaster is encouraged to develop and implement advisories which
are suitable for its market and which will ensure that its programming
is broadcast to a suitable audience.
following program contains scenes of coarse language and is not suitable
for younger children."
following program contains sexually explicit material intended for adult
audiences. Viewer discretion is advised."
following program contains sexually explicit material. Viewer discretion
following program contains scenes of violence, coarse language and nudity
intended for adult audiences. Viewer discretion is advised."
following program deals with mature subject matter and is intended for
adult audiences. Viewer discretion is advised."
following program deals with mature subject matter and contains scenes
of nudity and coarse language. Viewer discretion is advised."