The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council released its decision concerning comments made on CFNY-FM’s (102.1 The Edge, Toronto) morning show, the Dean Blundell Show. The hosts made jokes about Easter and Jesus Christ’s last day alive. The CBSC observed that many listeners would have found the remarks to be in extremely poor taste, but that they did not violate the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ Equitable Portrayal Code.
In the week before Easter, on April 2, 2012, the hosts of the Dean Blundell Show made jokes about Jesus’ choice to spend his last day with his 12 male disciples. Using stereotypically effeminate voices, the hosts imagined what Jesus and his disciples did and said, implying that they may have engaged in homoerotic behaviour. A listener complained to the CBSC that the dialogue was offensive to Christians. The station cited the CAB Code of Ethics and pointed out that the irreverent treatment of this religious story was not hateful of Jesus or abusively discriminatory towards Christians.
The CBSC’s Ontario Regional Panel examined the complaint under Clause 6 of the CAB Equitable Portrayal Code which prohibits the undue derision of religion. The Panel observed that it was troubling that the station broadcast this dialogue at all, let alone so close to Easter, but that religion is not immune from humour and parody. The Panel concluded that the comments did not reach the level of undue derision because there was no message of hatred or contempt for Christians, there was no direct criticism of Jesus himself or of Christians who believe the traditional Easter story, and some opposing viewpoints were aired. The Panel also pointed out that the broadcaster should have mentioned the Equitable Portrayal Code in its response to the complainant.
The CBSC was created in 1990 by Canada’s private broadcasters to administer the codes of standards that they established for their industry. The CBSC currently administers 7 codes which deal with ethics, equitable portrayal, violence, news and journalistic independence. Nearly 760 radio stations, satellite radio services, television stations and specialty and pay television services across Canada are members of the Council.