ARCHIVED -  Public Notice CRTC 1991-90

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Public Notice

Ottawa, 30 August 1991
Public Notice CRTC 1991-90
Canadian Broadcast Standards Council
The purpose of this public notice is to advise licensees and the public that the Commission fully supports the objective of the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (the CBSC), which is to encourage high standards of professional conduct on the part of private radio and television broadcasters by ensuring that social concerns and values are reflected in their programming decisions. The Council administers specific codes of broadcast conduct and provides a means of recourse for members of the public regarding the application of these standards.
The concept of an industry council was first suggested by the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB), the voluntary trade association representing the majority of private radio and television broadcasters, at public hearings in April 1986. Subsequently in 1987, as part of a fundamental review of all of its existing television, cable television and radio regulations, the CRTC proposed for public comment a set of guidelines intended to assist in the development of a consistent approach for establishing industry-administered codes and standards on specific issues of concern to the Commission and the public. In response, the CAB elaborated on its concept by proposing a national and five regional councils, and set out details about the nature and scope of the Council, its structure, means to ensure the dissemination of information to the public, and procedures relating to a proposed complaints process, non-compliance and annual reporting.
In Public Notice CRTC 1988-159 dated 22 September 1988, the Commission accepted the proposal in principle, noting that "this voluntary action on the part of the CAB and its members reflects the sense of responsibility and maturity of the broadcasting industry in regard to social issues of public concern." However, the Commission made it clear that its endorsement of the principles and responsibilities of the Council was not an abrogation of its own responsibilities:
 From the Commission's perspective, this initiative also reflects a new stage in the fulfilment of one of the CRTC's primary objectives: the streamlining of the regulatory process and increased reliance on a supervisory approach and self-regulation. Increased reliance on self-regulation, however, does not imply that the Commission is relinquishing its responsibilities. Any interested party may, at any time, choose to approach the Commission directly.
The Commission has watched with interest the realization of the CBSC. The Executive Director of the Council submitted a six-month report to the Commission dated 1 April 1991. The Commission notes the responsibilities that have been established for member stations, the national and regional councils, and the secretariat of the CBSC. The report contained the following information:
 * legal incorporation of the   Council took place on 15 August 1990
 * the National Chair was appointed 11 May 1990; during the months of March through May 1990, members were appointed to the Regional Councils; sessions of the five regional councils (each of which has three public representatives and three broadcast members) were held in the spring of 1990; a list of the members of the national and of each regional council and their terms of office was appended; a quarterly newsletter has been developed for the information of regional council members
 * as of 1 October 1990, 75% of CAB members had joined the CBSC; as of 1 April 1991, the membership level was 81%;
  a list of the member stations was appended
 * all CBSC members have signed a formal certificate agreeing to abide by the broadcasting standards developed by the CAB and administered by the Council
 * upon joining, members are sent copies of all relevant industry codes; copies are distributed to the public, upon request  * member stations have received public service announcements (PSAs) and publicity material (members agree to broadcast Council PSAs on a run of schedule basis, including prime time, a minimum of five times per week during the first three months and a minimum of three times per week on an ongoing basis); new PSAs, dealing with various aspects of the CBSC, its process and the issues will be developed
 * reference was made to the disposition of several complaints, as well as to the educational activities planned, including CBSC workshops at each regional Broadcasters Association convention.
The CRTC has held discussions with the CAB and with the National Executive and the Secretariat of the Council on several occasions over the spring and summer months to clarify certain matters. In particular, the Commission wished to be satisfied that there be no confusion in the public's mind between the responsibilities of the Council and those of the CRTC, and to establish procedures for relationships between the Council and the Commission.
In this respect, the Commission notes that the information material the Council has prepared for the public and its membership clearly states that the CBSC has three major areas of responsibility:
 * to inform broadcasters with respect to emerging societal issues and suggest ways to deal with them  * to administer codes of industry standards referred to it by the CAB
 * to provide a means of recourse for members of the public regarding the application of these standards.
The codes that the CBSC will be administering deal with broadcasting ethics, television violence and sex-role portrayal. The CRTC wishes to reiterate that the guidelines it has established for developing industry-administered standards (Public Notice CRTC 1988-13 dated 29 January 1988) contain, among others, requirements that industry standards and any subsequent amendments be submitted to the Commission for acceptance and that annual progress reports should also be submitted to it.
It should be noted that in October 1990 the CRTC approved the revised CAB Code on Sex-Role Portrayal. The Commission is working with the CAB regarding the industry's "Voluntary Code Regarding Violence in Television Programming" dated January 1987, to ensure that public concerns on this issue are adequately addressed. The CAB has also advised the Commission that it is in the process of reviewing its Code of Ethics.
With the publication of this notice, the Commission offers its wholehearted support to the CBSC. In particular, it wishes to remark on the extensive process of public, industry and government consultation undertaken by the CAB in order to bring about the realization of this organization. The Commission is confident that the CBSC, as constituted, will promote improved broadcast standards in the private sector. The CRTC is pleased to note the high level of participation in the Council and the strong educational role the CBSC has taken upon itself.
In addition, the Commission recognizes the broad public representation on the regional councils and considers this a vital factor in ensuring that each broadcaster is accountable for the programming it offers to the public it is licensed to serve.
The Commission is satisfied that the complaints process that has been established is a useful mechanism for resolving public concerns about the programming broadcast by private Canadian radio and television stations. As a means of demonstrating its confidence in the Council, the CRTC hereby advises that it intends to refer complaints from members of the public about programming matters that are within the Council's mandate to the CBSC for its consideration and resolution. The Council is committed to make every effort to resolve complaints at the level of the local broadcaster. If an issue is not settled to the satisfaction of all parties, a subsequent review would be conducted by the Council at the regional level and, if necessary, at the national level. Nevertheless, the Commission reiterates that the statement made in Public Notice CRTC 1988-159, that "Any interested party may, at any time, choose to approach the Commission directly", continues to apply.
The Commission will monitor the activities of the CBSC and expects to be informed of Council activities on an ongoing basis. In addition, it expects to receive annual reports setting out the information specified in the attached Appendix.
The Commission is confident that CBSC member stations will not only fulfill the commitments they have formally agreed to uphold as a requirement of membership, but also that they will demonstrate, in all aspects of their programming, their dedication to the objective of improving program quality and their willingness to accept a greater degree of responsibility for responding to social issues and community values.
Mindful of continuing expressions of public concern regarding the quality of program content, the Commission intends to review the success of the CBSC in meeting its objectives after three years of operation.
Related Documents: Public Notices CRTC 1987-9, dated 9 January 1987 and entitled "Guidelines for Developing Industry Standards"; 1987-205, dated 15 September 1987 and entitled "An Approach to Industry-Administered Standards: A Broadcast Council"; 1988-13, dated 29 January 1988 and entitled "Guidelines for Developing Industry Administered Standards"; 1988-159, dated 22 September l988 and entitled "The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council"; and 1990-99, dated 26 October 1990 and entitled "Industry Guidelines for Sex-Role Portrayal".
Allan J. Darling
Secretary General APPENDIX
In its annual report to the CRTC, the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council is to provide details on the following:
 updates on membership in the CBSC and on any changes in the regional and national council representatives
 the educational activities undertaken by the CBSC during the year, including the identification of emerging issues
 information about promotional material made available to the public and to member stations
 with respect to each of the codes that the Council administers, a summary of the complaints referred to each of the regional councils, broken out by medium (radio/ television), language of program source (English/French), and date received/date of ruling
 statistical information as to the disposition of all complaints dealt with by the national and each of the regional councils, with reference to the precise guideline/s deemed to have been breached, the category of the program and its origin (i.e. locally-produced or acquired; Canadian or foreign).

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