The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council today released its decision concerning comments made during the introduction to a Cantonese-language information program called Home Sweet Home on CHKT AM1430 (Fairchild Radio, Toronto). The host of the program gave some misinformation about the origin of the medical cross. The CBSC concluded that the error was not serious enough to warrant a violation of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ Code of Ethics.
Home Sweet Home is an information/talk program about real estate and home design. It airs on Sunday afternoons and on Easter Sunday (April 8, 2012), the host mentioned the significance of Easter in his introduction. He stated that a red cross is used on ambulances and as a symbol of medicine because of its link to Jesus Christ, the Christian cross symbol and Jesus’ message of healing.
The CBSC received a complaint from a listener who wrote that this information was incorrect. The listener pointed out that the red cross is a symbol of medicine due to its link to the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement (ICRC) and has no relationship with Christianity. He also suggested that the comment would be offensive to Christians for misrepresenting one of that religion’s symbols and to other religions for inaccurately giving credit to Christianity for a universal medical emblem.
Based on the research conducted by the CBSC, the complainant’s contention appears to be accurate. The Ontario Regional Panel examined the complaint under the provisions of the CAB Code of Ethics relating to proper presentation of comment as well as provisions of that Code and the CAB Equitable Portrayal Code relating to representation of religious groups.
The Panel concluded that, although the host mischaracterized the origin of the medical cross, it appeared to be an honest misunderstanding and was just an introductory comment made at the beginning of a program which otherwise had nothing to do with Easter, religion or medicine. The error was not so egregious as to constitute a breach of the Code. The Panel also found that the comments did not denigrate any religion.
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.