ARCHIVED -  Public Notice CRTC 1986-351

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Public Notice

  Ottawa, 22 December 1986
  Public Notice CRTC 1986-351

Policy on Sex-Role Stereotyping in the Broadcast Media

  Table of Contents
  I. Introduction
    Effectiveness of Self-regulation Industry Guidelines
    The Educational Process
    Industry Committees and the CBC
    Complaint Mechanisms
    Recommendations by area
    Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
    Canadian Association of Broadcasters on behalf of its members
    Canadian Advertising Foundation
    Association of Canadian Advertisers
    CTV Television Network
      The Role of Canadian Broadcasters
    Expectations from the Self-Regulatory Period
    The Guidelines
    The Industry Committees and Station Reports
    The Complaint Mechanism
    Industry and Public Awareness
    Public Hearing Submissions
    ERIN Research Findings
      Commission Expectations and Recommendations
    The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
    The Canadian Association of Broadcasters
    The Canadian Advertising Foundation
    The Public
    The Government
    Condition of Licence
  Appendix A: CAB, AAB and CBC Guidelines on Sex-Role Stereotyping
  Appendix B: Recommendations of the Task Force on Sex-Role Stereotyping as published in Images of Women




  In 1979 the government developed a national action plan,Towards Equality for Women, to promote the equality of women in Canadian society and eliminate the discrimination they had traditionally faced. Following the publication of this report, her Excellency the Right Honourable Jeanne Sauvé, then Minister of Communications, wrote to the CRTC indicating that Cabinet considered the Commission to be the agency that could "most appropriately take steps to see that guidelines and standards to encourage the elimination of sex-role stereotyping from the media it regulates are formulated by 1980."
  This mandate was reiterated later in 1979 by the next Minister of Communications, the Honourable David MacDonald, who cautioned that with nearly 50% of all women now in the workforce, the media have the duty to reflect the role of women accurately. In requesting the CRTC to set up a Task Force on this issue, he stated that its mandate should be "to delineate guidelines for a more positive (and realistic) portrayal of women in radio and television (in both programming and commercials) and to make policy recommendations for consideration by the Commission and the broadcast industry."
  Four successive federal governments have supported the Commission's activities in this regard. Moreover, the federal government has continued to support the provision of equality for men and women in Canada, as demonstrated by the incorporation of this provision in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the recent passage of Bill C-62, which deals with employment equity. More recently, in April 1986, the Honourable Walter Mclean, then Minister of State responsible for the Canadian Advisory Council on the Status of Women, reconfirmed the federal government's commitment to the Commission's efforts in ensuring that the broadcast media portray women as equal and active participants in our society.
  In response to the government initiatives the CRTC, on 28 September 1979, announced the formation of a Task Force "to develop guidelines to encourage the elimination of sex-role stereotyping in the broadcast media." Chaired by Commissioner Marianne Barrie, the Task Force was composed of nineteen people from the CRTC, the public across Canada, the CBC, the private broadcast media and the advertising industry. Two representatives from the Canadian Advisory Council on the Status of Women also served as ex-officio members during their tenure as officers of the Council.
  In October 1979, at its first meeting, the Task Force agreed, while recognizing that other forms of stereotyping exist in broadcasting, that it would concentrate on the sex-role stereotyping (SRS) of women. It agreed to address the issue as a problem of injustice and inequality, rather than as one of "poor taste," and that, as a priority, it would study commercials before examining programs. The Task Force also decided to focus on the joint issues of women's presentation and representation within the Canadian broadcasting system, rather than on their employment in the industry.
  The Task Force announced that it would hold six regional public meetings to hear comments from interested parties (Public Notice CRTC 1980-14 dated 25 January 1980). Over 50 individuals, many representing large constituencies, made presentations. The public's written views on this matter were also solicited, and altogether 124 submissions were received, ranging from letters to several major research briefs.
  Following its deliberations on presentations made at the hearings and further working sessions, the Task Force published its report in September 1982. This report contained some 20 recommendations to improve the portrayal of women in Canadian broadcasting (Images of Women, pp. 64-71) (Appendix B). In particular, a two-year period of self-regulation for both the broadcast media and advertising industry was recommended, following which the effectiveness of self-regulation would be assessed in a framework of public accountability.
  It was also recommended that the CRTC assess the initiatives taken over the two-year period by periodically monitoring commercials and programs for sex-role stereotyping; requesting and assessing reports from industry committees responsible for self-regulation; assessing complaints received; and at the end of two years, publishing the results of its findings and creating an appropriate public forum for its discussion prior to the consideration of further action by the Commission.
  In addition, the Task Force recommended that the CRTC require all broadcast licensees to submit periodic reports to the Commission on their progress and initiatives in dealing with the problem of sex-role stereotyping; to take initiatives to eliminate abusive comments on, or abusive pictorial representation of, either sex in all broadcast content; and to discourage the portrayal of gratuitous violence against women.
  The Task Force also recommended that the CBC ensure that its staff adhere to the Corporation's policies and guidelines on this issue. The CBC was also asked to conduct comparative studies of the portrayal of women on both the English and French-language services, and to make the results of these studies available to the public. Further, the Task Force recommended that the CBC consider those it employs on a contract basis in any future studies on women and employment.
  Several recommendations were addressed to the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB), as well as to all private broadcasters.
  Along with recommending that the CAB adopt proposed changes to its Code of Ethics as Association policy, the Task Force also recommended that the mandate of the CAB's Standing Committee on Sex-Role Stereotyping should include, among other things, education of its members on the issue of stereotyping, the handling of complaints and the publication of interim reports. As well, it was suggested that all CAB-member broadcasters participate in the implementation of the Association's proposal for self-regulation, and cooperate in making it effective. Members were also encouraged to increase the visibility of women both on- and off-air and exercise awareness of sex-role stereotyping in acquiring programming material or rights.
  Recommendations to the advertising industry included encouraging its members to participate in the implementation of the industry's proposal of self-regulation; as well as to reviewing and, where appropriate, modifying its codes concerning the portrayal of individuals (particularly women) in advertising.
  Finally, the Task Force urged the public to continue to voice its concerns and complaints about what it finds objectionable in broadcast programming and commercials.
  The Commission, in Public Notice CRTC 1982-126 dated 4 November 1982, announced the formation of a committee to draw up a plan of action for the implementation of the Task Force recommendations. Chaired by Commissioner Rosalie Gower, the committee consisted of both CRTC commissioners and staff. Less than one year later, the Commission, in Public Notice CRTC 1983-211 dated 16 September 1983, notified licensees that, "by 1 September 1984, they will be required to submit a report on the initiatives they have taken," and in particular, on their complaint mechanisms and educational measures to sensitize staff. This deadline for submission was extended twice.
  In November 1984, the Commission announced that it had enacted amendments to its Radio and Television Broadcasting Regulations prohibiting "any abusive comment that, when taken in context, tends or is likely to expose an individual or a group or class of individuals to hatred or contempt on the basis of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability." A similar prohibition was incorporated into the Regulations Respecting Pay Television Broadcasting Undertakings.
  The Commission also stated at that time that it would issue a publication including the reports received from the advertising and private broadcasting industries, and the CBC, on the measures they took during the two-year period to deal with sex-role stereotyping, as well as a summary of public response over the two-year period. The CRTC further announced that it had commissioned Erin Research Inc. (ERIN) to conduct an analysis of program content to help assess the degree to which broadcasters and advertisers were adhering to their respective industry guidelines (see Appendix A), a summary of which was included in the above publication. This study was partly funded by the Department of Communications (DOC).


  The responses to the Task Force recommendations by the broadcasters and advertising associations during the two-year period of self-regulation are highlighted below and are outlined further in the section covering the public hearing proceedings on this issue.
  The CBC responded by distributing its 1979 inclusive-language guidelines to about 600 key personnel across the country in January 1983, through the Office of the Coordinator, Portrayal of Women, which was established in 1979. In addition, four comparative content analyses were conducted for the Corporation for the years 1981-84. The complete 1981 analysis was published, and summaries of the others were included in the Corporation's report to the Commission. Complete analyses from 1982-84, however, neither are available to the general public, nor were they made available to the CRTC for public use. The CBC's summary report did not deal with its in-house hiring or promotion of its women employees, and did not deal with those hired on a contract basis.
  The CBC's Office of the Coordinator, Portrayal of Women, initiated a number of activities, including meetings with key personnel in the regions and participation in seminars and conferences on the portrayal of women. According to the Office, women's representation on CBC committees increased, as did the visibility of women in some CBC programming.
  In October 1982 the CAB's Board of Directors established a Standing Committee on Sex-Role Stereotyping for both French and English media. It also adopted changes to its Code of Ethics in November 1982. In 1985 the Standing Committee was disbanded and its function taken over by the CAB's new Societal Issues Committee, whose scope includes issues such as violence, children's programming, native broadcasting, closed captioning for the hearing-impaired and pornographic lyrics. As well, it overviews the CAB sex-role stereotyping complaints procedure.
  During its tenure, the CAB's Standing Committee on Sex-Role Stereotyping distributed the Task Force's recommendations and the industry guidelines to all private broadcasters. The Committee also passed on any comments received on sex-role stereotyping to the individual stations involved, urging them to respond directly to any complaints. The Committee submitted summary reports to the Commission and five full reports on its complete activities to the CAB Board of Directors: these latter, however, remain confidential. According to its summary report, the CAB's standing committee sent five letters to its members, held 12 seminars and made two presentations to its members during the two-year period of industry self-regulation.
  The Commission also received a number of responses to its Public Notice CRTC 1983-211 addressed to individual broadcasters. For the purpose of its English and French radio and television station response analysis, the Commission considered only those stations which broadcast 42 hours or more of programming per week. This meant that as of 15 December 1984, 566 stations could have responded. By 31 January 1985, 376 (approximately 66%) of these 566 eligible stations had submitted reports on measures taken to deal with the problem of sex-role stereotyping. Of the stations eligible to respond, 274 were members of the CAB; 238 of these (87%) filed a report with the Commission. The overall radio response rate was 64%, the overall AM, 66%, and the overall FM, 61%. The overall television station response rate was 83%.
  The reports were analyzed to determine the specific actions stations had taken to deal with sex-role stereotyping. The Commission notes that 27% of all eligible stations, and 39% of the CAB member stations, explicitly endorsed the CAB guidelines (although some CAB members may have considered that their endorsement was evident to the Commission by virtue of their CAB membership).
  Analysis of the stations' responses found that 4% (all of them CAB members) had established guidelines concerning stereotyping either for purchased programming or for commercials' acceptability; 14% of all reporting stations established such guidelines for programs they produced and 22% developed guidelines for commercials they produced.
  Many stations established committees and some initiated measures to deal with complaints. Some monitored song lyrics, and some said they tried to maintain, as much as possible, a balance between male and female performers. The increased on-air use of women was cited by almost half of the responding stations as a means to combat stereotyping.
  The reports received from Access Alberta, TVOntario, and Vancouver Co-operative Radio indicate that since their inception they have all taken active steps to deal with the issue of sex-role stereotyping and have attempted, through their programming policies, to avoid it.
  The Commission notes that in all, 40 stations (11% of the responding total) indicated that they had removed or rejected commercials considered to be stereotypical. One station reported that it had removed a program found to be stereotypical. Since November 1981, the Canadian Advertising Foundation (CAF) has been responsible for matters of policy and funding of the Advertising Advisory Board (AAB) and the Advertising Standards Council (ASC), along with their French-language equivalents, La Confédération générale de la publicité (COGEP) and le Conseil des normes de la publicité.
  The AAB formed an Advisory Committee on Sex-Role Stereotyping in 1982. It promoted a $70,000 film, "Women say the Dardnest Things", which details the manner in which stereotyping occurs; the reasons it is found to be objectionable; and appropriate methods to deal with sex-role stereotyping when it occurs. The film was written and produced at cost by volunteers from the advertising industry. The Committee also distributed a bibliography of literature about sex-role stereotyping in advertising. It handled complaints about broadcast commercials by forwarding these comments to the advertisers involved; one-third of such complaints alleged contraventions of the AAB guidelines. In March 1985, this Committee was replaced by the Advisory Panel on Sex-Role Stereotyping, directly responsible for continuing industry education and handling of complaints, and a separate Committee on Sexuality and Violence in Canadian Advertising was formed to study these issues and their implications.
  COGEP, in a report submitted to the CRTC in 1983, submitted additional comments outlining activities complementary to those of the AAB. It reported a declining number of complaints both in print and broadcast media over a four-year period, and a very successful cooperative effort between it and the Conseil du statut de la femme du Québec.
  As well, the public voiced its concerns about sex-role stereotyping in programming and commercials. Approximately 550 written comments were received from 1 September 1982 until 1 April 1985 and the Commission notes that 87% concerned television and 13% radio in commercials and programming respectively. Altogether it appears that about 1,600 comments about sex-role stereotyping were received by the industry committees and the CRTC; but whether or not some duplication of letters occurred is not known.
  The public members of the original Task Force also submitted a brief report at the end of the two-year self-regulatory period endorsing the study done by MediaWatch (see the following section) and concluding that "... the overall look is still pretty bleak ...[self-regulation] has not, by and large, worked."


  Content analyses were performed during the self-regulatory period by the CRTC, through Erin Research Inc. (ERIN), and by the CBC and MediaWatch.
  The CRTC in 1984 commissioned the very comprehensive ERIN Research study (Note 1) to measure the sex-role portrayal (rather than the sex-role stereotyping) of women and men on the Canadian broadcasting system. ERIN Research analyzed 1,494 hours of programming and 3,342 commercials sampled from English- and French-language public and private stations, AM and FM radio and TV, all of which were members of the CAB.
  Taping of the broadcasts for coding purposes took place over a three-week period, between the end of September and the middle of October 1984. All television, and most radio taping, was done by the Commission; commercials were sampled in proportion to the number of commercials broadcast by the individual stations.
  The terms under which ERIN Research was to proceed with its study were first, that the research would be based on the CAB and AAB guidelines; second, that its report would not measure sex-role stereotyping broadcast by Canadian media, but would instead measure the actual way in which men and women are presented by Canadian broadcasters and advertisers -- sex-role portrayal; third, it was also understood that the Commission, not ERIN Research, would make the final determination whether or not the industry guidelines had been met. No comparisons were to be made between radio and television, between French and English broadcasters, or between private and public broadcasters where the comparison could result in the explicit identification of the private broadcaster. As well, no single station or network was to be reported on individually. The study was to be a snapshot of the Canadian broadcasting system at one point in time, not a comparative analysis. ERIN Research summarized its findings as follows (for full report, see chapter 9 of the CRTC's Sex-Role Stereotyping in the Broadcast Media: A Report on Industry Self-Regulation):
  Three general points emerge from ERIN's data. First, there are fewer women than men in almost all areas of Canadian broadcasting -- television and radio, programming and advertising. Second, the roles of women and men differ in all areas; the differences are larger in some areas and smaller in others. Third, the numerical presence of women and men in broadcast material is linked to the roles that they occupy in a complex way. Although presence and role are linked, a strategy to balance the portrayal of the sexes would have to address each of these issues separately.
  The CBC commissioned four content analyses of "prime-time" network television in a four-year period. In 1981, the types of programs analysed were information, drama and variety; in 1982, information; in 1983, drama; and in 1984, information and variety. Its conclusions on the portrayal of women and men during prime-time on the English television network of the CBC for 1981-1984 are summarized as follows (for full analysis, see chapter 3 of Sex-Role Stereotyping in the Broadcast Media cited above):
  While signs of sexism are not too frequent in the programs studied, stereotypic representations are still numerous. For example, the predominance of the male presence over the female presence is evident in the three types of content studied. Women and men are generally portrayed in conventional roles. Women are rather absent from the political and economical scenes not only as newsmakers but also as experts or reporters. In addition, these images are quite stable in all of the follow-up analyses.
  The results of the analysis of the portrayal of women in prime-time programming of the English network indicate the fading out of the most discredited aspects of the image of women. However, the representation of innovative images of men and women is still to be developed.
  The study of the portrayal of women and men during prime-time on the French television network of the CBC from 1981 to 1984 is summarized as follows:
  What choice does the loyal French network audience have therefore among the characters appearing during prime-time? Dramas produced by the French network constitute the program category in which the quantitative portrayal of male and female characters is most nearly equal. The audience may see some characters who do not conform to known stereotypes. However, many stereotypes are reinforced, especially in the working world. Acquisitions present a much smaller proportion of female characters than do Canadian dramas. In addition, the characters in foreign productions are more conventional than those in in-house productions.
  The information audience has a much harder time keping company with women than does the drama audience. Furthermore, the presence of women seems to be linked to the presentation of certain non-political or non-economic topics. While the actual presence of women in political circles and the business world is a partial explanation of the imbalance in favour of men, it does not adequately account for the number of women experts interviewed or reporters. Nevertheless, few sexist remarks are to be noted among reporters and anchors/newsreaders. The use of generic terms, with no reference to gender, is therefore a fairly closely followed rule.
  MediaWatch, which received financial assistance from the Secretary of State, was created in 1981 as a subcommittee of the National Action Committee of the Status of Women, and became an independent, national autonomous organization in 1983. It conducted a broad comparative study on the problem of sexism in Canadian radio and television programming and advertising in the spring and again in the fall of 1984. Professionally designed, the study used volunteers across Canada to gather its material. Its report, which was endorsed by the original public members of the CRTC Task Force on Sex-Role Stereotyping, was presented to the Commission in 1985. MediaWatch analyzed its results by determining whether any differences were found between the portrayal of men and women. Slight, moderate and large inequities were used to assess each industry guideline. It concluded that, since only one indicator (the use of sexist language in news, public affairs and information programs) showed unequivocal improvement during the two-year period, self-regulation had been ineffective in dealing with sex-role stereotyping. For example, in the fall of 1984, 49% of major characters in drama were women, while 24% of news anchors and 18% of interviewees were women. Subsequently, MediaWatch also presented a comparative analysis between ERIN, MediaWatch and the CBC's studies, emphasizing that, in its opinion, the similarity of findings between its own research and the other two studies was the important point.


  In January 1986, the CRTC released Sex-Role Stereotyping in the Broadcast Media. This publication included a CRTC report on actions taken during the self-regulatory period and summary reports from the following: the CBC, CAB, AAB and COGEP, as well as a summary of public comments received over the two-year period and a summary of the findings of the independent analysis conducted by ERIN. The Commission invited all interested parties to submit their views as to the effectiveness of industry self-regulation, and also announced the scheduling of public hearings during the month of April 1986 in Vancouver, Montreal, and the National Capital Region, to determine the effectiveness of self-regulation over the two-year assessment period.
  Following this announcement, the Commission received 87 written submissions, as follows: 16 from the general public, 18 from interested organizations, 8 from individual stations, 6 from industry associations and 15 from different interest groups. Of those who made submissions, 33 appeared before the Commission during the hearings. The CAB participated actively at all three hearings; representatives of the advertising industry and MediaWatch also made oral presentations at all of the three; and the CBC appeared at the National Capital Region hearing.


  It became clear during the hearings, and from the written submissions, that most of the concerns expressed were directed at two aspects of self-regulation: the way in which self-regulation was supposed to function, that is, the process of industry self-regulation and the actual results from the whole period of self-regulation.
  Effectiveness of self-regulation: It was evident from the submissions received that there was a divergence of expectations regarding the purpose of the self-regulatory period. While some members of the public thought that self-regulation had been established to eliminate sex-role stereotyping in Canadian broadcasting, others expected self-regulation to reduce it. The broadcasters and advertisers, for their part, believed that the first step in self-regulation was to educate and sensitize the industry to the problem, gradually changing attitudes and thus eventually improving women's portrayal in Canadian broadcasting.
  Essentially, there was a consensus of opinion expressed at the hearings from the public, non-industry associations and government organizations, that the goals of self-regulation, as they perceived them, had not been achieved during the two-year period. The majority stated that self-regulation had not succeeded either in completely eliminating or significantly reducing the stereotypical portrayal of women in Canadian broadcasting. The following quotation from the National Action Committee on the Status of Women sums up this view:
  This then is the situation, not only after two years of self-regulation but also after the two year period in which the task force on sex-role stereotyping met. In fact, at least eight years have passed in which both broadcasters and advertisers were aware of women's dissatisfaction with their portrayal in broadcasting. Yet the ERIN study shows what women know, that voluntary initiatives by a male-dominated industry have effected little significant progress.
  The broadcasting and advertising industries, on the other hand, thought that self-regulation had been effective, if only to the extent of "sensitizing" those involved to the existence of the issue. They considered this to be the most important first step to generate momentum for changing what appears on Canadian television or is heard on radio. In its brief, the CAF stated:

We promised change, we promised to go to work on the problems, we've promised improvements. We firmly believe that we have lived up to that set of promises...

  Opinions differed strongly as to whether broadcasters and advertisers should reflect society as it is or as it should be. Broadcasters generally maintained that they should not be held solely responsible for reforming attitudes and behaviour. As well, the view was expressed that changes in the way women appear in broadcasting are inevitable, as long as society itself continues to change.
  Those appearing from the advertising industry supported the idea of promoting a more positive image of women in commercials, but argued that they have no mandate to change the world but a responsibility to work in a changing world and to reflect those changes in their commercials.
  Many members of the public felt that what they see and hear on the Canadian broadcasting system fails to represent existing Canadian society, and more particularly, underrepresents and misrepresents Canadian women. The public's concern did not stop with what appeared on the media, but continued with the impact such repeated images have on shaping and influencing attitudes and opinions.
  A variety of opinion was expressed as to the degree to which women's participation in society should be represented. Some members of the public argued, for instance, that women should make up one-half of all those seen or heard in Canadian broadcasting. Other supported the view that broadcasters should take a deliberately proactive stance and present a significant number of women even in areas where, in reality, there are still few women (as in politics or engineering, for example).
  Industry Guidelines: While some members of the public felt that the industry guidelines were only meant as a tool to educate broadcasters, others stated that the guidelines should be used as concrete targets. The public seemed to feel that no matter how good the guidelines may be, they are ineffective without a means of ensuring that they are implemented. Certain elements of the guidelines were mentioned explicitly as being imprecise and overall too vague to be measurable.
  The CAB suggested that any definition of sex-role stereotyping is open to subjective interpretation but that the goal is equality between men and women. The CAB also stated that the guidelines are being reviewed to ensure that they are reflective of, and sensitive to, today's society, and that they cover all areas of concern. Those representing the advertising industry indicated that "the way in which some of these [advertising] guidelines are stated at the moment ... is a bit vague and ... open to interpretation. In their view, the AAB guidelines were primarily intended to sensitize advertisers to the existence of the problem. They did acknowledge, however, that difficulties did arise in evaluating the validity of complaints about specific commercials because the guidelines were open to interpretation; for example, guideline #6 was not interpreted to include the use of sexuality and violence in advertising although Consumer Association representatives on the AAB Advisory Committee interpreted it in that way. Others expressed the view that advertisers and agencies who made an honest effort would be able to realize when commercials had contravened the AAB guidelines. Representatives from the Association of Canadian Advertisers (ACA) felt the guidelines were adequate, and the CAF expressed the view that the guidelines should remain unchanged.
  The Educational Process: The President of the CAB was of the view that "broadcasters' understanding of the issue is improved and their attitudes are changing." He also outlined specific measures taken by the CAB and individual broadcasters to increase awareness of the problem (e.g., public service announcements). He noted, however, that the ERIN analysis "clearly describes persistent sex-role problems in the broadcast media."
  The President of the CAF thought that the situation had improved since 1979. In his view, some success had been achieved, at least in educating those involved about the problem. According to CAF's comments at the public hearings, one of the most important aspects of the advertising industry's self-regulatory process was its effort to educate and sensitize its members, noting as an example, the presentation of the film, "Women Say the Darndest Things".
  The CAF said it had also organized and participated in many seminars during the self-regulatory period, meeting frequently with advertisers and broadcasters alike. In addition, it emphasized that, in responding to comments from the public, it had contacted many advertisers personally, to inform them not only of the existence of specific complaints, but also to discuss the importance of dealing with the issue of sex-role stereotyping in commercials.
  The President and Director-General of COGEP submitted that COGEP had distributed over 7,000 flyers outlining the Quebec sex-role stereotyping guidelines to industry and had cooperated closely with le Conseil du statut de la femme on the issue of sex-role stereotyping.
  However, some members of the public felt that the broadcasting and advertising industry's efforts to educate Canadians about the problem of sex-role stereotyping were inadequate and that the public had to assume too much responsibility in this area.
  Industry Committees and the CBC: Both the broadcasters and the advertisers described how they had developed and maintained committees to deal with the public's comments and to oversee industry initiatives during the self-regulatory period. Certain concerns were expressed by the public during the hearings, however, with regard to the committees' contribution to self-regulation. Some participants raised questions about the committees' membership, sanctions and public accountability. Questions were raised about the proportion of public representation on the committees; how they were funded; how frequently they met; what support staff existed to follow up on unanswered complaints; who decided if guidelines had been breached and what sanctions could be invoked; whether accurate records had been kept to monitor improvement; and, finally, if appeals were possible (and to whom) if the complainant disagreed with the result of an investigation.
  Some noted that, although broadcaster and advertiser committees had begun with adequate resources, this had changed over time. According to the public members of the original Task Force, industry commitment had waned considerably, particularly with regard to the voluntary committee structures.
  The CAB described its Standing Committee on Sex-Role Stereotyping as an active one, whose scope has been broadened to include current issues of social concern, such as violence, children's programming, native broadcasting, closed captioning for the hearing-impaired and pornographic lyrics. The name of the committee has also been changed to the Societal Issues Committee. An original achievement of the committee in 1982 was the creation of the guidelines for private broadcasting regarding sex-role stereotyping, and it also coordinated the complaints procedure and educational program.
  The advertisers described the on-going role of the AAB Advisory Committee on Sex-Role Stereotyping and noted that its primary function was an educational one. It consisted of a large representation from the advertising industry and some representation from the public, which was subsequently dropped. They reported that the committee had allocated about $500,000 to the sex-role stereotyping issue between 1980 and 1985, and that after it was disbanded in 1984, it was replaced by two committees composed only of industry members dedicated more to working with agencies and advertisers, and to setting standards and goals.
  The ACA outlined research which it had initiated and spoke of the continuing joint committee between ACA-ICA and the Association of Canadian Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA) to seek practical solutions in areas requiring improvement, for example, voice-overs. It also suggested that the CRTC act as a catalyst, convening informal meetings to discuss research, changes in society regarding the roles of the sexes and to review concerns.
  COGEP stated that in 1981, the Quebec guidelines on sex-role stereotyping were adopted by the advertising industry on a national basis, and at the Montreal hearing stated that it had joined the CAF in 1982. With nine members representing a variety of associations, its mandate is to act on behalf of the advertising industry in Quebec as a catalyst.
  The CBC, at the hearing, also gave an account of its activities during and since the self-regulatory period. It stated that all advertisements for broadcasting are reviewed under the Corporation's standards and that the CBC has endorsed the AAB guidelines on sex-role stereotyping and joined the CAF. The CBC has also done a study, "Looking for Ms. Right", a report containing a list of 1,000 qualified women to be interviewed on 27 different subjects. Language guidelines have been compiled by linguists in the French and English languages and a commitment was made to give ongoing breakdowns of on-air personnel. A separate department is coordinating employment equity and an external group has also been created to monitor videos used on the networks. Many activities were also described by the CBC to publicize the issue of sex-role stereotyping within the Corporation, and consultations were held on the issue with a number of organizations both within and outside Canada.
  Complaint Mechanisms: Many members of the public expressed dissatisfaction with the complaint mechanism of the self-regulatory process, noting the lack of staff and follow-up, and particularly the lack of effective action with regard to the subsequent removal or modification of material felt to be offensive. There was concern as well about what some felt were the minimal resources the CBC put into its Office of the Coordinator, Portrayal of Women and the fact that the Office was unstaffed for a period of time.
  MediaWatch stated that it had distributed to the public, free of charge, forms for their comments; these forms were designed to ensure the appropriate routing of the complaints.
  While CAB indicated that it forwarded complaints on to its members, it apparently did not automatically receive copies of stations' responses to these complaints, and therefore could not indicate their impact.
  At the hearing, the CAB proposed a new concept to deal with complaints, an independent Broadcast Council which would act as a "clearing house for complaints", a "court of first instance". The Council would receive, review and seek resolution of public complaints about broadcast program content. It would also liaise with the CAF and disseminate information to broadcasters and the public. Membership would be voluntary and an annual report would be published.
  The CAF stated that after the AAB's Sex-Role Stereotyping Committee was disbanded in October 1984, the CAF continued to administer the guidelines by forwarding all complaints received to individual advertisers and their agencies. The CAF noted that in 1985 it investigated 342 complaints about all media; 124 were upheld, of which 38 involved broadcast material. It is unclear whether "upheld" meant that affected commercials stayed the same, were modified or were withdrawn as a result. The CAF reported that discussions with public representatives who initially served on the committee were not always helpful, and that over time, the complaint process received less attention and publicity. A major difficulty arose when commercials were found to have violated the guidelines, since self-regulation does not generally entail the use of sanctions that have force of law.
  COGEP reported that, since 1981, it had received a declining number of complaints and in its opinion, self-regulation had proved successful. A concern was expressed by others at the hearing that not all complaints were responded to and a reason for the declining number of complaints could have been due to less publicizing of the issue and the complaints procedure.
  Some members of the public noted that the process of self-regulation lacked accountability: according to MediaWatch, for example, difficulties arose when it contacted the CAB and the CAF to obtain the results of complaints. MediaWatch submitted that repeated requests for such information received no response.
  Many of the participants at the three public hearings made recommendations to the CRTC as to what further action should be taken by the Commission to deal with sex-role stereotyping. Most of the areas covered by these recommendations are set out below. A full record of all recommendations can be found in the hearing transcripts.
  Recommendations by area
  • accept as evidence of sex-role stereotyping in the broadcast media, the findings of the monitoring reports of the CBC, MediaWatch and ERIN Research;
  • conclude that self-regulation has not succeeded in eliminating sex-role stereotyping;
  • review and revise the guidelines on sex-role stereotyping in a public forum; make adherence to the guidelines a condition of licence; include the prohibition of pornographic material in these guidelines; and apply the same guidelines to specialty channels and to foreign program acquisitions;
  • acknowledge the need for legislation and regulation in order to eliminate sex-role stereotyping and to make a provision for penalties for failure to comply with guidelines;
  • ensure the sex-role stereotyping guidelines are included also in all other industry codes;
  • institute a period of regulation of the broadcast media and further, monitor the advertising industry and the broadcast media with respect to sex-role stereotyping, requiring regular reports;
  • require broadcasters to inform audiences of sex-role stereotyping guidelines in public announcements, including the way in which the public can complain;
  • require licensees by condition of licence to implement an employment equity program in order to achieve equal representation between women and men on all programming and in all job categories; and require annual reports indicating gender balance;
  • undertake a content analysis of videos and restrict those which are of a sexual, abusive, sexist and stereotyped nature;
  • implement a public complaint mechanism with an accompanying public education program;
  • pursue the education of both industries regarding sex-role stereotyping;
  • establish a Human Rights Directorate to function under the CRTC to act on complaints and to review the performances of broadcasters and advertisers, with enforcement procedures; - establish a continuing internal task force on sex-role stereotyping;
  • encourage the appointment of women to the CRTC with a goal of equal representation by 1990;
  • commission an industry-wide study in two years;
  • change the CRTC hearing structure, compensate interveners and allow interrogatories and cross-examination at hearings;
  • conduct regular public hearings on sex-role stereotyping.


  During the hearings, both segments of the broadcasting industry and advertising associations made significant and extensive commitments with regard to sex-role stereotyping. The Commission commends the various industries in undertaking to make such commitments on their own initiative. It will expect them to be implemented and will follow industries' progress in this area closely. These commitments are highlighted below:
  Commitments by the CBC
  1. To take measures to ensure that on-air personnel reflect the growing role of women in Canadian society; and that broadcast programs take into account the diversity of roles played by women in Canadian society;
  2. to have each CBC department manager, with his or her program director, evaluate his or her section, establish a realistic objective for hiring on-air women taking into account the availability of qualified candidates and program content, and capable of being implemented and measured;
  3. to provide the Commission with data on women's representation from 1980 to 1985 in the Corporation's executive and senior management categories, and on-air personnel for technical and production groups on a voluntary basis as undertaken at the hearing;
  4. to issue sexist language guidelines in a brief, practical form for wide distribution.
  Commitments by the CAB on behalf of its members
  1. To assist in the development of programming which presents fair and accurate portrayals of all people;
  2. to ensure the broadcast of programming which does not contain offensive portrayals of men or women;
  3. to be reflective of society today, presenting informative fare and tasteful entertainment;
  4. to provide broadcasters with tools and directions to show them how to eliminate the offensive portrayal of persons;
  5. to assume a leadership role in the formation of a Broadcast Council which would bring together the broadcasting industry and the public at large to work side-by-side on solving the problem of sex-role stereotyping;
  6. to work with industry, government and public representatives to develop a sound and workable Council;
  7. to consult with the public and the Broadcast Council about how broadcasters should evaluate and assess their progress so as to result in measurable criteria;
  8. to endeavour to provide the Council with working capital in the first year;
  9. to have the Broadcast Council examine and assess the validity of SRS complaints about broadcasting;
  10. to develop, in conjunction with the Broadcast Council, practical and meaningful plans that will assist broadcasters in addressing sexist issues throughout its membership;
  11. to provide the CRTC with a plan of action by October 1986 about the presentation of women in and by the broadcast industry in a non-restrictive and more comprehensive manner;
  12. to ensure that part of the plan of action deals with a series of public service announcements on radio and television, describing the Broadcast Council and complaints procedure;
  13. to review the CAB guidelines to see whether additional guidelines are needed to cover troublesome areas which have surfaced since 1982 (i.e., rock videos);
  14. to ensure the wording of the guidelines remains appropriate and relevant;
  15. to include its SRS guidelines (see Appendix A) with other industry codes as reference in pre-clearance procedures for the advertising of feminine hygiene products and as reference in the current codes on advertising directed to children;
  16. to reprint its pamphlet when the guidelines are finalized and include sexist language guidelines;
  17. to review all complaints against the CAB guidelines and to point out to offending members which specific guidelines have been violated;
  18. to work with the networks and stations to prepare a campaign with more SRS public service announcements which will also publicize the comment lines [which were suggested by the CAB to receive public input on the programming provided by broadcasters];
  19. to notify the public on a continuing basis about the complaints procedure;
  20. to propose to its members that they consider the introduction of dedicated phone lines or toll-free numbers at their stations for the receipt of comments on programming;
  21. to cooperate in, and contribute to (along with other parties) another study comparable to ERIN within four years;
  22. to measure any future study on change against the guidelines which were used in the ERIN/CRTC research;
  23. to distribute comprehensive lists of qualified women on which stations may draw in order to select commentators or experts in all fields;
  24. to work with the CAB Nominating Committee to ensure the [appointment] of more women to the CAB Board of Directors and all internal committees;
  25. to ask the [CAB] Board whether it is willing voluntarily to submit figures on the number of women and men employed [in the industry], the positions and the salary ranges;
  26. to examine the usefulness of a CAB employment clearing house.
  Commitments by the CAF
  1. To continue its special efforts towards equality for all Canadians;
  2. to continue to administer the advertising industry's program of self-regulation;
  3. to establish a committee, called the Committee on Sexuality and Violence in Canadian Advertising, to explore the issue and its implications with committee members from the public sector as well as the advertising community. This committee will also adjudicate complaints related to the presence of sexuality and violence in Canadian advertising;
  4. To continue its work on sex-role stereotyping with a new, modified committee (the Advisory Panel on Sex-Role Stereotyping), made up of people from the industry who will screen and monitor complaints, work with the industry to maintain the educational process, and pay special attention to regional and special sector problems; develop a program with advertisers and advertising agencies to encourage voluntary consultation;
  5. to develop educational programs for [major] advertisers and agencies, as well as for smaller ones;
  6. to incorporate a statement with regard to the portrayal of women when codes of standards are revised or when new codes are developed;
  7. to ensure that the SRS guidelines are included as reference wherever pre-clearance is now required (children's commercials and feminine hygiene product commercials);
  8. to set firm and measurable objectives for the implementation of guidelines which may be identified as requiring particular attention (e.g., male/female voice-over ratio);
  9. to monitor national and regional advertising for violations of the AAB guidelines (see Appendix A) in order to initiate discussions with advertisers;
  10. to develop a complaint solicitation program that would inform the general public more about its ability to register disapproval about specific commercials;
  11. to provide for the staffing at the AAB of a complaints handling specialist;
  12. to endorse and cooperate with the CAB in the establishment and operation of the Broadcast Council;
  13. to purchase attitude research to assess and deal with current issues of concern to the public;
  14. to endorse the ERIN research and to contribute to any future comparable research study;
  15. to share the additional research obtained by the CAF with the CRTC;
  16. to develop a relationship with the CRTC in which the advertising industry would report on progress and discuss objectives with the CRTC.
  Commitments by the ACA
  1. To continue its effort to remove negative sex-role stereotyping;
  2. to discuss [with its members] legitimate goals which can be achieved within a reasonable time period;
  3. to make efforts to convince its members of the importance of supporting the SRS guidelines;
  4. to stay involved in the educational process through sensitization, advice to members, workshops and meetings;
  5. to support the CAF in its efforts to monitor, assess and evaluate advertising;
  6. to support and participate in the work of the CAF and the Advertising Standards Council;
  7. to assist in any endeavour to improve and publicize the complaint system.
  Commitments by CTV Television Network
  1. To consent to the Commission is separating out data dealing with the CTV from the data collected by ERIN;
  2. to consider the value of the CAB's proposed Broadcast Council, when the proposal has been finalized;
  3. to file with the CRTC, at the same time as its yearly report, employment figures on a voluntary basis so that growth and development can be shown, with job descriptions and a salary range for the job descriptions included. These figures are to be used to show changes over time but not to be evaluated on a yearly basis.


  The Role of Canadian Broadcasters
  In assessing whether industry self-regulation over the two-year trial period has been effective in dealing with sex-role stereotyping, the Commission has carefully considered and weighed all relevant factors. In the design set up by the original Task Force to deal with the problem, many constituencies were engaged and processes set in motion.
  The Commission has attempted to evaluate the result of each of these processes. This was done with an awareness of the importance of the issue of sex-role stereotyping which directly affects more than half of the Canadian population, not only in terms of equality of rights, but in the more human context of severely reducing women's aspirations, options and potential advancement with respect to careers. As the CAF said in its presentation at the hearings:
  Sex-role stereotyping is not merely a social issue affecting one portion of the population. It affects all of us, and most particularly the more than half the population who are women.
  From among the data evaluated by the Commission one example will serve as an illustration. Over the last two decades, the number of single parent families headed by a women has grown faster than any other type of household. At the same time, while more and more women have been employed outside the home, their share of income has remained small. Where the average income earned by families headed by single men grew by over a third, the income earned by families headed by single women grew by less than a fifth. The implications for society, including those of social costs, are profound.
  The Commission agrees with the broadcasters that they are not the only "keeper of national mores nor the prescribed catalyst for social change." It does believe, however, that broadcasting is crucial to the development of social change. This is in part due to the "multiplier effect". A parent, by his or her actions, influences only the children in the family in the course of a generation. A teacher may affect anywhere from 30 to 300 pupils in the course of a year. Broadcasting stations and networks, on the other hand, send their messages out to audiences that can be counted in thousands and even millions, every single day. With such a pervasive reach, the broadcast media may well be the most powerful common socializing experience across Canada, as well as a mass cultural instrument reflecting society.
  The Commission's licensees operate some 1,467 television stations, 758 AM and 778 FM radio stations. Some 99% of the Canadian population have access to at least one each of the radio and television networks. Canadians watch more than 500 million hours of television and listen to more than 400 million hours of radio each week. An average Canadian spends 4 hours per day watching television and 3 hours per day listening to radio. Within the programs seen and heard, the average person sees or hears about 100 commercials on television and about 70 commercials on radio per day. Children, on average, watch at least 3 hours of television per day, which means that they see about 75 commercials per day, or about 27,500 per year.
  Broadcasting is therefore a powerful medium to reinforce sex-role stereotyping and can be an equally powerful one to correct it.
  Expectations from the self-regulatory period
  It became clear from submissions that different expectations about the self-regulatory period had been held. Where many members of the public had hoped that self-regulation would eliminate sex-role stereotyping in broadcasting and commercials, the majority of those representing the industry appeared to expect that those involved would become more sensitive to the issue and in this way, gradually reduce sex-role stereotyping in the media.
  In assessing the results of the self-regulatory period, the Commission's own expectation was not that all sex-role stereotyping would have disappeared; however, it did expect that significant progress would have been made in a number of important areas. It expected that:
  • the industry committees established by the broadcasters and advertisers would develop and implement plans for self-regulation, would oversee the complaint process and would educate the industry on the issue;
  • the industries' self-regulatory guidelines would prove effective in reducing sex-role stereotyping which in certain areas would be measured by the ERIN study;
  • the representation of women within the broadcasting system would show some increase and be more balanced in many areas and in particular within programs produced in Canada;
  • the CBC, which had been aware of and working on the problem of sex-role stereotyping even before the CRTC Task Force was established, would show the most progress;
  • the complaint mechanism established by both industries would respond effectively to the public's concerns;
  • the industry committees and the individual broadcasters would respond to the CRTC request for reports on their activities and commitments to reduce sex-role stereotyping;
  • a heightened awareness of the issue of sex-role stereotyping would be present among the industries and the public as well;
  • public response, as demonstrated by letters, would show a decline of concern regarding the issue.
  Finally, it expected that it would receive some confirmation at the three public hearings that self-regulatory activities which the industries had undertaken had been largely effective in meeting public concern on the issue, and that the industry, through undertakings made at the hearings, would show a firm commitment for continuing change.
  In brief, it expected progress, awareness and commitment, and if significant movement could be shown in all three areas, then in its view, the two-year period of self-regulation could be declared a success. A firm commitment for continued change would be an important criterion in making such a determination.
  It must be emphasized that, in assessing the success of self-regulation, the employment of women in either industry or the CBC was not used as a criterion, although this issue was widely discussed at all public hearings.
  In the Commission's opinion, self-regulation was most successful in the two areas of awareness and commitment. Without doubt, there is a heightened awareness of the issue of sex-role stereotyping both in the general public and the broadcasting and advertising industries. In the Commission's opinion the activities of these industries during the self-regulatory period, although gradually diminishing over time, showed an effort to change, and commitments were expressed through undertakings made at the hearings to improve and revitalize the process for continued progress in the future. Unfortunately, actual progress appeared to be less successfully demonstrated. In this regard, it is important to reflect on the industries' guidelines and some of the inequities they were created to address, as expressed in Images of Women:
  • unequal treatment of women as regards intellectual and emotional capacity;
  • the relative invisibility of women in broadcasting;
  • the absence of the portrayal of women in their increasing diversity with respect to lifestyle, as well as age group, ethnic origin or physical appearance;
  • the showing of women in limited roles and appearances;
  • the absence of women as experts and authority figures;
  • the use of non-inclusive language;
  • the absence of women as voice-overs;
  • the use of women as decorative objects.
  The Commission cannot measure progress in these areas from ERIN's studies because they showed only one point in time. What the studies could show is demonstrably different treatment of men and women in some of the above areas after two years of self-regulation. One of the most measurable of the industries' guidelines which could be assessed using ERIN's results, that of visibility of women for example, indeed showed large inequality in the treatment of women and men.
  In assessing the self-regulatory period, the Commission considered the following areas:
  1) The guidelines: In assessing the CAB and AAB guidelines, the Commission considers these to be excellent statements of the principles underlying industry commitment to reduce and eventually eliminate sex-role stereotyping. However, there is room for improvement to help both broadcasters and advertisers continue their efforts in reducing sex-role stereotyping. The guidelines would benefit from the addition of definitions and, in some cases, from the creation of new guidelines to deal with new issues (such as rock videos), as suggested by the CAB and AAB themselves. Concentration of effort on three or four of the most easily measurable guidelines, or on up to five of the elements of the guidelines as the CAB suggested, could ensure demonstrable progress before the next monitoring study is done.
  2) The Industry Committees and Station Reports: The Commission notes that both the broadcasters and advertisers established active committees to design and implement plans for self-regulation; these committees also dealt with complaints and submitted interim and final reports to the CRTC to account for industry activities over the two-year self-regulatory period. It is on the basis of these reports and the submissions made by the industries at the public hearings that the Commission finds that the two industries have made considerable effort to change the image of women in the broadcast media, and to work with their own members to make them aware of the issue and to help them respond in a constructive, effective way. It was also apparent that, once the two-year period was over, the effort and commitment had diminished.
  In the Commission's view it is important that these committees receive a high priority with the industries, that they regularly review the industries' progress in dealing with sex-role stereotyping, that they do some self-monitoring on progress, and that they meet on a yearly basis with the Commission to present annual plans for ensuring progress within their industry. These committees should also oversee the complaint process set up by industry.
  As previously stated, the CBC also submitted interim and final reports outlining action taken during the two-year self-regulatory period and the permanent Office of the Portrayal of Women was very active. The Commission finds that the CBC has pursued its efforts to deal with sex-role stereotyping in the networks and in the regions, and that senior management appears supportive of this effort. However, it also notes that the Office of the Portrayal of Women was without a coordinator for some time and the Office and staff are very limited for dealing with such a large Corporation. This is partially compensated for by the quality of the coordinators it has been able to attract. The Commission will wish to review on a yearly basis the efforts of the CBC and this Office, and to receive annual plans for undiminished commitment.
  Public Notice CRTC 1983-211 dated 16 September 1983 required individual station reports from every broadcaster in Canada. As previously stated, the CAB member stations' response was much superior to that of non-CAB member stations, with a response rate of 87% as compared to 49% of non-CAB members.
  The Commission finds that a large proportion of CAB members took action to a greater or lesser extent to deal with sex-role stereotyping in their individual stations, and is of the opinion that what is important is to ensure that these activities continue after the self-regulatory period. The overall response of non-CAB members was much less reassuring. This result appeared to indicate that most CAB members are sensitized to and aware of the issue, but over half of non-CAB members have much less awareness of the problem; a solution proposed for continuing change and progress must take this fact into consideration.
  3) The Complaint Mechanism: The Commission assessed progress in this area by noting whether the number of complaints about sex-role stereotyping remained constant, decreased or increased over the two-year period and beyond, and how well these complaints were dealt with.
  Of the letters received between 1982 and 1985, approximately 16% were received during the first year of the two-year period and about 29% in the second year; while about 55% were received between September 1984 and April 1985. The vast majority were directed at English-language commercials and programming. Comments about French-language commercials and programming accounted for only 3% of all letters. The Commission continues to receive letters expressing concern about broadcast sex-role stereotyping at a rate of approximately one a day.
  The Commission notes the active role played by MediaWatch in expediting the letter-writing complaint process, by providing comment forms free of charge across Canada. Had it been possible for MediaWatch to screen letters unrelated to Canadian broadcast programming and advertising or not directly relevant to the issue, the process would have been facilitated. The fact that in some cases a large number of letters were received from a small number of people was taken into account and weighted accordingly.
  Many stations and all of the industry associations concerned implemented procedures to handle and address complaints. In the Commission's opinion, several factors were important to the success of such mechanisms: the representation and participation of the public, the degree to which complaints, once forwarded to the stations or advertisers involved were followed-up, and the eventual effect these comments had in reducing or eliminating sex-role stereotyping.
  The Commission noted with concern, therefore, that public representation was dropped from some committees, since, while acknowledging that it makes the process longer and more difficult, it is still imperative in the Commission's view that some informed members of the public continue to sit on or act as consultants to the various complaints committees.
  The complaints procedure followed by the advertisers was, in the Commission's opinion, more efficient and effective than that of the CAB, for the following reasons:
  The CAB's complaints procedure lacked public participation. As well, insufficient follow-up was found once a complaint had been sent to a broadcaster, and no attempts were made to evaluate whether a CAB guideline had been breached. Commitment to the CAB's complaints procedure diminished over the two-year period under review and there is no evidence that an adequate complaint procedure is currently in place. The Commission notes that advertisers generally cooperated in taking significant steps to deal with complaints. Those resulting in "benchmark" decisions, or those which could not be satisfactorily resolved at the staff level, were reviewed by the advertisers' Advisory Committee on Sex-Role Stereotyping as a whole. The CAF's complaint procedure appeared to be more thorough, and with renewed public participation should be satisfactory.
  In the Commission's opinion the complaints procedure has most of the elements necessary to be effective, although this was an area highly criticized at the public hearings. It needs strengthening, however, in the following ways:
  • There must be knowledgeable public representation chosen by industry to sit on the committees to maintain a fresh perspective on sex-role stereotyping when these committees view programs and commercials regarding complaints.
  • The committees in some cases have been reduced to one or two persons who have total discretion to determine which complaints will be considered and upheld, as in the case of COGEP, and this, in the Commission's view, is too limited a review process. The committees need to be enlarged.
  • While adequate follow-up was done by the advertisers, this was not the case with the CAB and must be rectified. As well, it would be helpful for the CAB to make a determination as to whether a guideline has been breached or not, and so inform the broadcaster concerned.
  The CBC deals with programming complaints internally, and works with the CAF when dealing with advertising complaints, which process appears adequate.
  4) Industry and Public Awareness: The industry committees and the CBC's Office of the Portrayal of Women have all worked to increase industry and public awareness of the issue of sex-role stereotyping, as have those committees set up in the individual stations. The Commission expects the industries to continue their efforts in this regard, and has noted commitments made at the hearings to do so. It is especially important that the public be informed of the complaints mechanisms.
  MediaWatch has also played an active part in keeping the issue before the public, in intervening at hearings, and encouraging public awareness and response.
  5) Public Hearing Submissions: The most significant fact regarding public submissions at the hearings was that the overwhelming majority expressed some degree of dissatisfaction both with the way in which industry self-regulation was supposed to have taken place, and with the results shown at the end of the self-regulatory period. In many cases, the view expressed was that only regulation could deal with sex-role stereotyping and that equal treatment for women in the Canadian broadcasting media should be entrenched in the Broadcasting Act.
  On the other hand, the CAB, while acknowledging the need for more work in certain areas, thought the period successful insofar as most broadcasters are now sensitized to the sex-role stereotyping issue. This view was echoed by the advertisers. Neither the broadcasters nor the advertisers felt there was any need to initiate government regulation: industry self-regulation had at least made substantial progress towards its goals. Those in the industry felt that voluntary initiatives, rather than sanctions in any form, would achieve far more in reducing sex-role stereotyping.
  The Commission finds from the public hearings that there is a wide diversity of opinion as to whether or not self-regulation has been effective in reducing or eliminating sex-role stereotyping from the broadcast media.

ERIN Research Findings

  For expert analysis of guideline compliance for both the broadcasting and advertising industries, the Commission has placed two studies on the public file, that of CRTC staff (Staff Comments on the Results Obtained by the ERIN Content Analyses on Sex-Role Portrayal, October 1986) and that of ERIN (Statistical Analysis of CAB and AAB Guidelines as a Basis for Assessing Industry Compliance, December 1986). This latter study was commissioned by the CRTC after consultation with representatives of the CAB, CAF, CBC and public members of the original task force.
  The Commission has drawn its general conclusions from the studies. It has also reviewed the content analyses of CBC and MediaWatch.
  As stated earlier, the Commission did not expect the elimination of all sex-role stereotyping in the space of two years and therefore did not yet expect equal representation of men and women in the programming and advertising broadcast at the end of the self-regulatory period. The following conclusions by the Commission therefore are based on reasonable compliance with the guidelines measured.
  In regard to the CAB guidelines (Appendix A) against which the programming was assessed, the Commission has concluded that none of the guidelines that were measured was fully met or met to a reasonable degree in either television or radio programming. Guideline #3 ("Broadcasting should reflect a contemporary family structure") was the closest to being met, but only on English-language television.
  The visibility or presence of women is the greatest problem, with large differences in gender balance in both television and radio programming. Women's presence, however, is more nearly equal on daytime television drama, on both French- and English-language stations.
  A significant difference also exists in the roles women and men play, both on English- and French-language television. Women as authorities and experts were not much in evidence in either television or radio programming.
  In regard to the AAB guidelines (Appendix A) against which commercials were assessed, there was closer compliance with the guidelines measured.
  The visibility of women in commercials on both English- and French-language television was greater than in programming. In radio, the gender balance in advertising was better than in television, especially on French radio advertising.
  Role variables in advertising showed significant differences between men and women, but less on French-language than on English-language television advertisements.
  The lack of women as experts and authorities continued to be a major problem. Voice-overs also showed very large discrepancies on both television and radio advertising, although less so on television than on radio, and less on French-language than on English-language stations.
  The guidelines assessed in this way were CAB guidelines 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8 and 9 and AAB guidelines 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, and 9.
  The Commission commends the efforts of the CBC in conducting its own studies of the portrayal of women over time and its commitment to do future studies. The summary of the studies as submitted, however, did not present the way in which sex-role portrayal had been measured or include information on levels of statistical significance obtained. The Commission, therefore, is unable to compare the CBC's methodology with that of ERIN or to determine whether any changes occurred over time as a result of special Corporation policy or by random chance. While very useful to the Corporation to measure change over time, the public release of all the data used would have been very helpful for other comparisons to be made.
  The Commission also commends the efforts of MediaWatch in undertaking studies on this issue at two points in time, involving the time and effort of many volunteers. The reports, however, lacked important information that would have allowed the Commission to make greater use of its findings such as the way sex-role stereotyping was defined and measured, the way in which the self-regulatory guidelines were measured, and the levels of statistical significance obtained. It should be noted, however, that MediaWatch submitted some material later that could not form part of the public record. In the Commission's view, a change in research strategy between the first and second time point of its analysis could have contributed to the differences found between men and women's representation and portrayal. The Commission also acknowledges the second study presented by MediaWatch comparing the studies of ERIN, the CBC and MediaWatch, and notes that this was the only study of its kind submitted by any participant.


  After considering all of the evidence referred to in the foregoing sections, including the views and submissions presented before it at the hearings, the actions and commitments made by broadcasters and advertising industry representatives, and the research, the Commission acknowledges that considerable work has been done to sensitize and educate the industry and the public to the issue of sex-role stereotyping and that a significant effort has been made both by broadcasters and advertisers alike, as well as by members of the public to make self-regulation work. Notwithstanding this effort, however, the Commission concludes from all of the foregoing that self-regulation has been only partially successful and that further action is necessary. In determining the action to take, the Commission has been mindful of the many substantial commitments voluntarily made by the industries, but also the need to encompass in its action plan those who do not belong to any industry association.
  Accordingly, the Commission outlines in the following section specific expectations and recommendations to the various parties concerned.

Commission Expectations and Recommendations

  The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
  The Commission expects the CBC:
  1. Because of its size, importance and special role in the Canadian broadcasting system, to show leadership in providing a more equal reflection and a better portrayal of women in the media.
  2. To release to the public any future studies on sex-role stereotyping in their complete form.
  3. To review its complaints procedures for programming and commercials on all networks and submit a semi-annual report to the Commission on complaints and their disposition.
  4. To review its sex-role stereotyping guidelines and submit a report to the Commission.
  5. To send its inclusive-language guidelines to its owned-and-operated stations and to its affiliates.
  6. To meet with and submit an annual report to the Commission on its efforts to eliminate sex-role stereotyping both on- and off-air, with the knowledge that these reports will be put on the public file. It should also present plans on a yearly basis for continuing the effort to eliminate sex-role stereotyping in radio and television.
  The Canadian Association of Broadcasters
  1. The CAB should take immediate steps to review the present guidelines in consultation with public representatives selected by the CAB and knowledgeable of issues relating to sex-role stereotyping. The revised guidelines should be submitted to the CRTC for acceptance by 1 April 1987. The review should add definitions of some terms (such as, "contemporary family structure") and also add new guidelines where necessary (for example, for rock videos, etc.). The guidelines should not be so altered as to preclude future content analysis comparisons with the 1984 ERIN study commissioned by the CRTC. The Commission also accepts the suggestion of the CAB that up to five critical areas be initially identified as targets for research and as measurements for change over three years (areas such as the number of women as experts and commentators, voice-overs excluding advertising, women as hosts and anchors, and the use of non-sexist language). This research should be done within the next monitoring period.
  2. Following the steps outlined in Recommendation 1 above, the revised CAB guidelines will then be known as: "The Broadcasting Industry's Self-Regulatory Code on Sex-Role Stereotyping."
  3. While the Commission finds the CAB's proposal for a Broadcast Council interesting, it lacks sufficient detail as to its mandate, membership, funding and incentive for joining to make a determination as to whether the Council as proposed could deal effectively with sex-role stereotyping complaints. The CAB is encouraged to develop the concept. Until the feasibility of the Broadcast Council can be shown, the Commission recommends that the CAB review and strengthen its present complaints mechanism by analysing whether or not a complaint involves a violation of the industry guidelines. The CAB Complaints Committee should be enlarged to include some public representation, and the CAB should follow up complaints to see that the complainant receives a prompt and reasonable response. The CAB should report semi-annually to the CRTC on its treatment of complaints. Complaints concerning non-CAB members will continue to be dealt with directly by the CRTC and the Commission will continue to act as a mechanism for resolving complaints.
  4. The CAB should also continue on a regular basis its efforts to help the industry eliminate sex-role stereotyping through its own educational efforts by means of seminars, convention work-shops, and other initiatives. All broadcasters are expected to continue to sensitize their staff on the issue of sex-role stereotyping, to review their own programming and commercials in this regard and to expand on individual station initiatives taken during the two-year self-regulatory period so that the issue can be discussed at licence renewal time.
  5. The CAB should meet with and report annually in writing to the CRTC on its members' progress in eliminating sex-role stereotyping from the broadcast media, noting that these reports will be available for public examination. It should also present plans on a yearly basis for continuing the effort to eliminate sex-role stereotyping in radio and television.
  6. The CAB should devise a method whereby progress can be assessed as to whether and to what extent broadcasters have been successful in increasing the visibility and involvement of women in broadcasting, both on and off the air, as per CAB guideline #8 (Appendix A).
  7. The CAB should share in the funding of a second ERIN-type study in 1988.
  8. While acknowledging the effort of some broadcasters to inform the public on the issue of sex-role stereotyping and on the method of complaining about programs or commercials through the use of public service announcements, open-line shows, etc., the Commission encourages the CAB to develop further initiatives and expects all broadcasters to assume an increased responsibility in this area.

The Canadian Advertising Foundation

  The Commission regulates and monitors broadcast advertising pursuant to the Broadcasting Act and regulations. It has jurisdiction to make regulations respecting the character of advertising and the amount of time that may be devoted to advertising. The CRTC, however, has no mandate to regulate the advertising industry itself.
  At the same time, the Commission notes the great importance broadcast advertising has, not only in economic terms, but also in proactive social terms. The Commission acknowledges the high level of cooperation it has received from the advertising industry, and it is with this in mind that it makes the following recommendations:
  1. The AAB should review its guidelines to ensure that they are as clear as possible and that additions be made where necessary. The revised guidelines, which should be submitted to the CRTC for acceptance prior to their adoption, could deal with such topics as sexuality, sexualization of children and violence, and be completed by 1 April 1987. Members of the public knowledgeable of sex-role stereotyping should be involved in the review.
  2. The advertising industry should identify and set targets for further improvement over the next three years, in specific areas (such as voice-overs and women as experts) which are easily measurable so that progress may be shown.
  3. The present complaints procedure should be continued but the review boards for complaints should be enlarged and include members of the public knowledgeable about the issue.
  4. The advertising industry's review committees should report to the Commission semi-anually about the treatment of complaints, including the ultimate disposition of upheld complaints.
  5. The advertising industry should continue its educational efforts of its own members.
  6. The CAF should work with small advertisers and licensees to help them eliminate sex-role stereotyping and conform to industry guidelines.
  7. The advertising industry should meet with and report to the CRTC annually on its progress in eliminating sex-role stereotyping, noting that the report should include yearly plans for further action and industry self-education and be made available for public examination.
  8. Consistent with its commitments, the industry should cooperate in the funding of the proposed follow-up comparative study in 1988.

The Public

  The Commission emphasizes the importance of public participation in the elimination of sex-role stereotyping. A vigilant public, through responsible use of the complaints procedure and interventions at public hearings can provide invaluable assistance in letting the industry know how successful it has been in making progress on the issue and also informing the CRTC whether the present mechanisms are effective.
  New communication technologies, such as satellites, should also be used as a means of facilitating the participation of the public at distant public hearings.

The Government

  In his statement at the Montreal public hearing, the then Minister responsible for the Status of Women, the Honourable Walter McLean, emphasized that there can no longer be any doubt that there is an urgent need to eliminate sex-role stereotyping in all forms of communication and emphasized the deep commitment of the government to the goal of full equality for Canadian women. Specifically, the Minister undertook to initiate action on voice-overs in advertising produced by the federal government and reiterated that, at the federal level, guidelines have been in place since 1982 to eliminate sex-role stereotyping in external and internal government communication. Departments which do not conform have been advised to make the necessary changes. The Commission supports the government in these initiatives and acknowledges the importance of such a strong statement to the industry and the public at this time.
  The Commission will request the DOC to participate with the CRTC, as it has in the past, with the follow-up study to ERIN to be completed in 1988 in order to assess progress in eliminating sex-role stereotyping across the Canadian broadcasting and advertising industries. A study was also suggested at the public hearings on exploring the possible relationship between the employment of women in the industry and the nature of programming produced, and the CRTC commands this proposed study to the government's attention.
  The under-representation of women on the CRTC and the CBC's Board (although much improvement has occurred recently in the latter case) was also a subject of discussion at the hearings, and the CRTC also commends this to the attention of the government when appointments are made.

Condition of Licence

  The Commission notifies all its radio and television broadcasting licensees, both CAB and non-CAB members, that it intends to impose a condition of licence when their applications for licence renewal are considered, requiring their adherence to the CAB self-regulatory guidelines, as amended from time to time and accepted by the Commission. As noted earlier, these guidelines are presently being revised by the CAB and, when accepted by the Commission, will henceforth be referred to as "The Broadcasting Industry's Self-Regulatory Code on Sex-Role Stereotyping".
  In the meantime, consistent with commitments made at the hearings, the Commission expects all its radio and television licensees to increase their efforts during the current term of licence towards the elimination of sex-role stereotyping and to adhere to the CAB guidelines.


  Commitments: Since the sex-role stereotyping hearings, the CBC has taken various steps to implement the commitments it made during the hearings, some of which are outlined below. The CBC's language guidelines have been redrafted and are now included in the Corporation's journalistic policy and will be widely distributed. As well, the CBC has endorsed the AAB guidelines on sex-role stereotyping and has formed a citizens' committee to view and rate videos. With regard to employment equity, goals will be set and staffing monitored by department managers and the Office of the Portrayal of Women. The Corporation has already completed an analysis of women on French-language radio for 1985-86 and other such studies are planned for 1986-87.
  The CAB has also been active since the hearings in all the areas outlined in the commitments it made at these hearings. It has canvassed its members for the names of women to serve on CAB boards and committees and has been in touch with the Advisory Council on the Status of Women regarding qualified women who might be used by broadcasters as commentators and experts on current issues. The CRTC has been informed that the Societal Issues Committee of the CAB will address a number of matters, including revised guidelines on sex-role stereotyping, the possibility of the CAB serving as an employment clearing house, and the feasibility of the establishment of a Broadcast Council. The CAB has also begun compiling material to produce non-sexist language guidelines. It has included the CAB guidelines with the code on the advertising of feminine hygiene products. The CAB has reiterated its commitment to working with other organizations in developing and financing a second study comparable to the ERIN research.
  The CAF has established, among other initiatives, a Committee on Sexuality and Violence to study not only violence associated with women in general, but more particularly violence in movie advertisements and advertising for children, as well as in instances where sexuality and violence are linked. Further, the Broadcast Code for Advertising to Children is under revision and proposed changes will incorporate the sex-role stereotyping guidelines, as well as references to violence. The CAF is also reviewing the mandate of the proposed Advisory Panel on Sex-Role Stereotyping to determine the most effective means of ensuring public input in the handling of complaints. The CAF is also a subscriber to research being conducted with respect to sex and sexuality in programming, editorial content and advertising. The television code of standards for the advertising of feminine hygiene products has been revised and includes a statement on the portrayal of women in advertising.
  MediaWatch has undertaken to continue its activities with respect to sex-role stereotyping in the media. It proposes to continue to act as a catalyst for public awareness, to be a resource centre for sex-role stereotyping information and to assist volunteer groups in their efforts to monitor or evaluate the effectiveness of the industries' self-regulatory guidelines.
  Closing Remarks: For its part, the Commission remains firmly committed to ensuring that progress continues on the elimination of sex-role stereotyping from the broadcast media. It will continue to maintain an internal committee on sex-role stereotyping to supervise, under the direction of the Executive Committee, the implementation of all commitments made by the various parties involved, as well as the CRTC's own recommendations. The Commission intends to meet on a yearly basis with the CBC, the CAB and the CAF to receive a report on efforts made to eliminate SRS and to hear yearly plans for continued progress. It will review the semi-annual report on complaints and their disposition from the above-mentioned three bodies and determine the adequacy of the process for the public, and will continue not only to act as a mechanism for resolving unsatisfied complaints but also will deal with all complaints directed to non-CAB licensees.
  The CRTC will include in its annual report a status report on the issue of SRS, including industry actions, the nature and number of complaints received and progress in the implementation of commitments and recommendations.
  The Commission will also wish to review with broadcasters, at licence renewal time, the efforts they are making in this area. This will be especially important for those broadcasters who did not respond to Public Notice CRTC 1983-211, a list of which will be released shortly so that they have adequate notice to prepare themselves for a review of their performance in this area at subsequent hearings.
  The Commission notes the gathering momentum towards change in Canadian society, as evidenced in part by the new employment equity legislation recently introduced by the government which will affect many of its licensees. It also notes the considerable increase in qualified women graduating from broadcast educational institutions in numbers equal to or exceeding those of men, and is of the opinion that, with the continued commitment of its licensees to change, the time is propitious for real progress to be made. The advertisers also acknowledge that women's roles in the world are changing, and that it is in the advertisers' self-interest to respond to that change.
  The Commission acknowledges that any solution or initiatives suggested in this document cannot deal with non-Canadian programming or commercials received over-the-air, by satellite, or from the many cable systems across the country. It does urge its broadcast licensees, therefore, to adhere to the industry guidelines on sex-role stereotyping when purchasing foreign programming for their schedules.
  The Commission commends its licensees, industry representatives and members of the public who have spent resources and many hours of voluntary labour in their efforts to make self-regulation effective. While much remains to be done, the Commission realizes that overcoming obstacles to the equality of women in Canadian society and accelerating the process of change requires a long-term commitment and an on-going cooperative effort, with industry, the public and the regulator all playing their part. It requests the cooperation of all involved for a renewed commitment to a more realistic portrayal of women in radio and on television in programming and commercials and ultimately to the elimination of all sex-role stereotyping from the Canadian broadcasting media.
  Fernand Bélisle
Secretary General



CAB, AAB and CBC Guidelines on Sex-Role Stereotyping


A. Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB): Private Broadcasting Voluntary Guidelines on Sex-Role Stereotyping

  1. Broadcast programming should reflect an awareness of, and sensitivity to the problems related to sex-role stereotyping.
  2. Broadcasters should recognize the changing interaction of men and women in today's society.
  3. Broadcasting should reflect a contemporary family structure, showing all persons as equally supporting participants in management and household tasks, and as equal beneficiaries of the positive attributes of family life.
  4. Broadcasters should reflect the wide spectrum of Canadian life, portraying people of various ages, backgrounds and appearances, actively pursuing a wide range of interests.
  5. Broadcasters should refrain from the exploitation of men and women, and reflect the intellectual and emotional equality of both sexes, in programming.
  6. Broadcasters should exercise their best efforts to use language of an inclusive nature in their programming, by avoiding whenever possible expressions which relate to only one gender.
  7. Broadcasting should reflect a realistic balance in the use of men and women as voice-overs and as experts and authorities.
  8. Broadcasters should attempt to increase the visibility and involvement of women in broadcasting, both on and off the air.
  9. Broadcasters should exercise sensitivity to and be aware of the problem of sex-role stereotyping in the acquisition of programming material or rights.
  10. Broadcasters should support the voluntary initiatives of the advertising industry in relation to the issue of sex-role stereotyping, through the Advertising Advisory Board, and that wherever possible, broadcasters should cooperate with locally organized and nationally conducted campaigns of the Advertising Advisory Board (AAB).

B. Advertising Advisory Board (AAB): Advisory Committee on Sex-Role Stereotyping: Guidelines

  The following "positive action statements" were adopted by the Task Force as guidelines to encourage more realistic portrayals of men and women in advertising messages. It should be noted that while the majority of the complaints are related to the portrayal of women, the concern of the Committee is sex-role stereotyping of both sexes.
  1. Advertising should recognize the changing roles of men and women in today's society and reflect the broad range of occupations for all.
  2. Advertising should reflect the contemporary family structure showing men, women and children as equally supportive participants in home management and household tasks, and as equal beneficiaries of the positive attributes of family life.
  3. Advertising, in keeping with the nature of the market and the product, should reflect the wide spectrum of Canadian life, portraying men and women of various ages, backgrounds and appearances actively pursuing a wide range of interests, sports, hobbies and business, as well as home-centered activities.
  4. Advertising should reflect the realities of life in terms of the intellectual and emotional equality of the sexes by showing men and women as comparably capable, resourceful, self-confident, intelligent, imaginative and independent.
  5. Advertising should emphasize positive personal benefits derived from products or services and should avoid portraying any excessive dependence on/or excessive need for them.
  6. Advertising should not exploit women or men purely for attention-getting purposes. Their presence should be relevant to the advertised product.
  7. Advertising should reflect the contemporary usage of non-sexist language, e.g. hours or working hours, rather than man hours, synthetic, rather than man-made, business executives rather than business men or business women.
  8. Advertising should portray men and women as users, buyers and decision-makers, both for "big-ticket" items and major services, as well as small items.
  9. Advertising should reflect a realistic balance in the use of women, both as voice-overs and as experts and authorities.

C. CBC Guidelines

  In December 1979, the CBC's Board of Directors adopted a program policy which requires the CBC to accept as part of its mandate the need to reflect the role of women in Canadian society. To ensure implementation of this policy, the Corporation also prepared language guidelines:

Portrayal of Women in CBC Programming -- Policy Statement

  The CBC accepts as part of its mandate the need to reflect in its programming the role of women in Canadian society and to examine its social and political consequences. The CBC believes that its programming should also contribute to the understanding of issues affecting women.
  In applying this policy, CBC programming should:
  1. avoid the use of demeaning sexual stereotypes and sexist language;
  2. reflect women and their interests in the reporting and discussion of current events;
  3. recognize the full participation of women in Canadian society;
  4. seek women's opinions on the full range of public issues.

Language Guidelines -- Portrayal of Women in CBC Programs

  Words can be the symbols of deeply rooted cultural assumptions. The way language is now used tends to relegate women to secondary status in our society. Rules of correct grammatical usage, like rules of social conduct, are not immutable and may change to reflect changing social mores. The following guidelines are not lists of proscribed words. They provide examples which can broaden the use of language while avoiding sexist bias. The guidelines should be applied with awareness and judgment.
  1. Include all people in general references by substituting neutral words and phrases for "man-words".

man's achievements
career women


articifial, synthetic
human achievements
humanity, the human race or people
name the profession

  2. Avoid assuming that everyone in a group is male -- or female.
  Examples: "the men in the cabinet"
"the boys in the caucus"
"the girls in the hairdressing shop"
"the doctor, he"
"the nurse, she"
  (Examples taken off-air)
  3. Refer to women and men equally and make references consistent.
Mr. Sam Jones and Mary Smith
Sam Jomes and Mary Smith or Mr. Sam Jones and (appropriate title) Mary Smith
  4. Avoid using "man" or "woman" as suffix or prefix in job titles.
mail boy
policewoman or man
steward, stewardess
courrier, messenger
police officer
flight attendant
  5. Use parallel language when referring to people by sex.
man-and wife
ladies and men

men's team and girls' team
husband and wife
women and men, ladies and gentlemen, girls and boys
men's teams and women's teams
  6. Avoid offensive or patronizing language, tokenism.
the little lady
better half
libber, women's lib
wife, spouse
"          "
feminist, women's movement
  7. Grant equal respect to women and men. Do not describe men by professional position and women by physical attributes.
Sam Jones is a successful lawyer and his wife is a charming blonde.
Find out what his wife (name) is involved in.
  8. Use generic titles or descriptions for both women and men.
woman manager
male secretary
  9. Base communication on qualities that are pertinent to the story. Avoid words and visuals which emphasize physical features and clothes unless they are germane, and unless comparable terms would be used regardless of the subject's sex. Use the same standards for men and women in deciding whether to mention marital and family situations. In other words, write and edit with a sense of equality, appropriateness and dignity for both sexes.



Recommendations of the Task Force on Sex-Role Stereotyping as published in Images of Women


To the CRTC

  1. The CRTC should monitor and assess the initiatives taken by the broadcasting and advertising industry over a two-year period, by:
  a. periodically monitoring broadcast commercials and programs for sex-role stereotyping;
  b. requesting and assessing interim reports from industry committees responsible for self-regulation;
  c. assessing complaints received both by the Commission and through the response system instituted by the government; and
  d. at the end of two years, publishing the results of its findings in a report and creating an appropriate public forum for its discussion prior to the consideration of further action by the Commission.
  2. The CRTC should require all broadcast licensees to submit periodic reports to the Commission on their progress and initiatives in dealing with the problem of sex-role stereotyping.
  3. The CRTC should take initiatives to eliminate abusive comments on, or abusive pictorial representation of, either sex in broadcast content (AM, FM, and television). The Commission should also discourage the portrayal of gratuitous violence against women.
  4. The CRTC should make Images of Women widely available. In particular, the report should be distributed to broadcast licensees, women's groups, and those who made submissions to the Task Force.

To the CBC

  1. The Corporation should ensure that its programming staff become familar with and adhere to the Corporation's policies and guidelines pertaining to the portrayal of women in programming.
  2. The Corporation should conduct comparative studies of the portrayal of women on both its English-language and French-language services, and make the results of these studies available to the public.
  3. In its future studies on women and employment, the Corporation should consider those employed on a contract basis.

To the CAB and Private Broadcasters

  Several recommendations were addressed to the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB), which represents some 300 Canadian broadcasters, as well as to private Canadian broadcasters in general. The CAB itself, during the course of the Task Force meetings, proposed that its Board of Directors recommend to the 1982 general association meeting that its Code of Ethics be amended to include specific clauses on sex-role stereotyping in radio and television programming.
  1. The CAB should adopt proposed changes to the CAB's Code of Ethics as association policy.
  2. The mandate of the CAB's standing committee on sex-role stereotyping should include education, encouraging the cooperation and participation of member stations, the handling of complaints, and preparation of interim public reports.
  3. The CAB should outline to the CRTC how it proposes to educate and sensitize its members with respect to sex-role stereotyping.
  4. The CAB committee should encourage members to increase the visibility and involvement of women both on- and off-air. [The latter issue was not, however, considered a criterion by the Commission in determining whether self-regulation had been effective.]
  5. All CAB-member broadcasters should participate in the implementation of the association's proposal for self-regulation, and cooperate in making it effective.
  6. All private broadcasters should familiarize themselves with the programming proposals as set out in Images of Women, and adopt the applicable programming recommendations.
  7. All private broadcasters should exercise sensitivity to, and awareness of, the problem of sex-role stereotyping in acquiring programming material or rights.

To Advertisers

  1. The advertising industry should encourage its members to participate in the implementation of the industry's proposal for self-regulation and cooperate with the industry to make self-regulation effective.
  2. The industry should review and, where appropriate, modify its codes concerning the portrayal of individuals (particularly women) in advertising, after gaining experience with the voluntary guidelines and the self-regulatory process for the two-year period.

To the Public

  The Task Force also addressed the public, urging it to voice its concerns and complaints about what it finds objectionable in broadcast programming and commercials.

To the Federal Government

  1. The federal government should accept the principle that programming on the Canadian broadcasting system be reflective of the interest of both sexes.
  2. The government should establish and maintain an effective response system, such as a toll-free number or a postage-free mailing system to receive public complaints about sex-role stereotyping in radio and television programming or commercials, which would supplement the self-regulatory initiatives established by the broadcasting and advertising industries. Records should be maintained indicating the nature of the complaints received and the system's existence should be widely publicized.
  3. The federal government should encourage and finance the development of a methodology by which progress in the area of sex-role stereotyping in programs and commercials can be measured. This work should be undertaken or commissioned by an appropriate body (such as Status of Women Canada, or the Department of the Secretary of State's Women's Program). Such studies should not duplicate those undertaken by the advertising or broadcasting industries, as set out in their proposals for self-regulation.
  4. The government should compile and periodically update comprehensive regional and national directories of women experts, to be made available as a resource to any broadcast licensee, using the Department of the Secretary of State's Women's Program or a comparable body.
  5. The federal government should note the fact that women are under-represented as members both of the CRTC and the CBC Board of Directors, and consider this when appointments are made to these publicly-funded agencies, to ensure more balanced representation. [Subsequently, the Commission decided not to use employment as a criterion for determining the effectiveness of the self-regulatory period.]
  Note 1 -
The Portrayal of Sex Roles in Programming and Advertising On Canadian Television and Radio: Summary Report 1985
The Portrayal of Sex Roles in Canadian Television Programming
The Portrayal of Sex Roles in Canadian Radio Programming
The Portrayal of Sex Roles in Canadian Television Advertising
The Portrayal of Sex Roles in Canadian Radio Advertising

Date Modified: 1986-12-22

Date modified: