Better late then never

In June of 2011 ( just shy of five months ago ) I saw a clip of Krista Erickson interviewing Margie Gillis – this is a clip of what aired on the newly launched Canadian Sun TV Network ( Fox News North as it’s sometimes called ). You can see the clip here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LrUfKrQpQbg

I don’t watch Sun TV – in fact I no longer watch anything on cable, I only watch shows I like via Netflix and the like. I abandoned cable TV because I hated commercials, I hated the amount of time in my life it sucked up, and more or less was bored to tears with the programming. I get my news online, so I don’t miss cable TV at all and I’m probably more informed now than I have ever been trying to get news and information off of the television. I abandoned cable because of stations like Sun TV.

So I did not watch the original on ‘TV’, I watched the digital version on YouTube – and after watching it I sent a complaint to the CBSC ( Canadian Broadcasting Standards Council ) about the whole thing.

Here is what I sent, way back at the start of June:

I just finished watching the Krista Erickson interview of Margie
Gillis as an online version of the original interview on June 01, 2010.
It was my understanding that Canadian Broadcasters were to act with a
minimum level of decorum and decency towards their guests.

This was disgusting. This was not an interview, this was a steady and
constant attack on a guest under the thin guise of being a tax spending
watchdog. It was sick. It was wrong. It should never happen again on
Canadian television.

Facts were twisted and distorted to the point where they were pushing
lies. They were not full-out-right-lies but they certainly bent the
spirit of honesty in journalism that is part of Canadian media
legislation.

Very sad. Very pathetic show.

Here is the response that the CBSC sent me today, which I think is fully reasonable. Hopefully they levy an appropriate punishment as they see fit, whether I find that punishment suitable or not remains to be seen, but it is interesting that they are so swamped with complaints about this issue that they have had to change policy on the complaints process. That makes me happy, that Canadians are standing up and saying there are limits to what we will tolerate – a rarity in a nation that passively tolerates just about everything.



Thank you very much for sending your email to the CBSC regarding the Krista Erickson interview with Margie Gillis on an episode of Canada Live.  The CBSC appreciates your use of its public process for dealing with concerns about that television broadcast.
 
It is the customary practice of the CBSC to send an individually oriented response to every single person who takes the trouble to send us such a complaint.  In this case, though, the volume of complaints has made such personalized responses impossible.  Hence this more impersonal response to all those who filed complaints re the Margie Gillis interview.
 
In any event, the CBSC will deal with the substance of the broadcast via the Councils normal process and a decision will be released publicly in due course.
_________________
 
Let us add a few clarifying and useful bits of information re the CBSC and its process.
 
1.  The CBSC’s complaint resolution process normally begins with a dialogue between the complainant and the broadcaster. The Council initially forwards all complaints it receives to its broadcaster member who then responds directly to the complainant, copying the CBSC on their response.  Over time, the results of this process have been extremely positive; moreover, they are quantifiable.  Consider that over 75% of complaints are customarily resolved through this dialogue which requires that broadcasters consider their programming choices in light of the standards which they, as CBSC members, have agreed to respect.
 
In the present case, because of the overwhelming number of complaints, not only is the CBSC not replying individually (as mentioned above), it is not asking the broadcaster to do so either.
 
2.  Once again, in general but not in the present case, it is only where differences cannot be resolved through this dialogue that the CBSC’s “dispute resolution mechanism”, i.e. a Panel adjudication, is triggered. At this point, the Panel decides whether or not the broadcast itself has breached one of the Codes administered by the CBSC.  In the case of the Margie Gillis interview, the CBSC will render a decision, even in the absence of the broadcaster-complainant dialogue.
 
3.  Regardless of how many different complaints we receive about an individual broadcast, a single decision is taken based on the actual content of that broadcast. Nor is that decision influenced by the number of complaints received.  In fact, the CBSC requires only a single complaint to trigger its complaint resolution process.
 
4.  We should also tell you that the CBSC cannot deal with online content.  The Codes that the CBSC administers apply only to content broadcast on traditional radio and television, so we cannot deal with complaints about clips found on YouTube, Facebook or similar media-sharing sites.
 
5.  It is also the case that the CBSC limits the complaints with which it deals to those that are made by persons who have actually seen the broadcast.  In this case, though, it appears that some complainants did not see the Krista Erickson interview with Margie Gillis on an episode of Canada Live themselves; they may have, understandably, based their complaints on the circulating social media reports concerning the interview in question.  While that would normally have affected those complaints, in this case the CBSC will be bringing this broadcast to a Panel adjudication in any case.
 
6.  Finally, some complainants have requested that the station that broadcast the Krista Erickson interview be removed from their basic cable package. Cable bundling does not come within the purview of the CBSC’s mandate, nor do we deal with cable or satellite TV companies. We deal exclusively with the content broadcast by our member stations.
 
Please note that all of the CBSC Panel Decisions are public and are posted on the CBSCs website for your information. You are welcome to visit our website at <www.cbsc.ca> at any time to view our most recent decisions.
 
Sincerely,
 
Mrs. Solange Courteau
Communications Coordinator
Canadian Broadcast Standards Council

The CBSC is a national voluntary self-regulatory organization created by Canada’s private broadcasters to deal with complaints made by viewers or listeners about programs which they have seen or heard broadcast on a member station.  The CBSC administers seven industry codes covering various issues relating to ethics, violence on television, equitable portrayal, journalistic ethics and cross-media ownership, which set out the guidelines for television and radio programming. For more information on the mandate of the CBSC and the codes it administers, visit our website at www.cbsc.ca.

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