OTTAWA - Calling him "crude and offensive," the Quebec Panel of the CBSC gave CHOI FM radio host Jeff Fillion a figurative public mouth-washing this week with a decision condemning a segment of his program from last fall.
At issue was an October 2, 2002 broadcast where Fillion and his co-host chatted about a recent court judgement in which radio rival Andr� Arthur was found accountable for damages by uttering derogatory statements about former Quebec Premier Daniel Johnson.
Another radio rival, Jacques T�trault, had appeared in a television interview the previous evening, where the subject of discussion was the Arthur lawsuit. Fillion's name was mentioned one or twice during the show.
Fillion's so-called rebuttal to this interview, aired on his radio show Le monde parell�le de Jeff Fillion the next morning, resulted in the broadcast of interview extracts from the TV program, featuring T�trault's accusations that Arthur and Fillion capitalize on spreading lies. Fillion then bombarded T�trault with insults, referring to him as a "conceited asshole", a "worthless piece of trash", a "piece of vomit" and a "tree with rotten roots".
Fillion also alleged that T�trault had achieved success on the coattails of others, and that he chased young women. A listener offended by the coarse language originally lodged the complaint with the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council.
The Quebec Panel of the CBSC cited a recent decision which said, "Skilled practitioners of the [talk radio] art must be deft, not brutal."
However, the panel writes in this decision released this week that it "considers that host Fillion was anything but deft. He was crude and offensive. He spouted ugly and generalized epithets, comprehensible only in their flailing nastiness and not because a serious listener might have actually understood what his competitor did, if anything, to merit criticism.
"Thus, for example, the Quebec Panel finds that 'conceited asshole', 'that worthless piece of trash', a 'loser', a 'piece of vomit', a 'shit disturber' and a 'tree with rotten roots' fall into this category, whereas focussed comments such as the accusation that T�trault was 'a poor communicator' who had lost most of his listeners are fair game," continues the harshly worded decision.
"Fillion demonstrated an utter lack of respect, not only for the competitive host, but also, more important, for the audience he ought to serve. The public interest is in no way served by such shallow grandstanding from the safe side of the microphone."
So, CHOI-FM is required to apologize by announcing the CBSC's decision, once a day for three days following its release, during peak listening hours. The decision was also to be aired once more within seven days during the broadcast of Le monde parell�le de Jeff Fillion.
Canada's private broadcasters formed the code of ethics, and also created the CBSC to administer the professional codes. More than 530 radio and television stations and specialty services across Canada are council members.
For the full decision, go to www.cbsc.ca.
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