Coverage violated broadcast codes, but prompt correction respected code requirements: CBSC

Ottawa, April 7, 2016 – The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning news reports broadcast on CTV Kitchener (CKCO-DT) about a female teacher who had been accused of inappropriate sexual comments towards a 16-year-old male student. The CBSC found that one report contained inaccurate information, but CTV Kitchener had quickly corrected the error and thus respected the requirements of the broadcast codes.

Two reports were broadcast on July 15, 2015 and provided updates on the teacher’s case. The report broadcast during the 6:00 pm newscast informed viewers that the charges had been dropped because there was not enough evidence to go to trial.  The report included information from a court document to which the accused and Crown had agreed, which included excerpts of comments made by the teacher to the student on social media.  The reporter also stated that the judge had ordered the teacher to resign.  CTV Kitchener covered the story again in its 11:30 pm newcast, but the reporter indicated that the teacher had resigned on her own.  The following day, during the July 16 6:00 pm newscast, the anchor acknowledged the error regarding the teacher’s resignation:  she had not been ordered to resign, but rather had done so of her own volition.

The complaint to the CBSC came from the teacher herself. She was concerned about the misinformation regarding her resignation which had been broadcast in the July 15 6:00 pm report.  She was not satisfied that the broadcast had given correct information in a subsequent newscast and had declared its error the following day, as she felt that CTV’s overall coverage of her case had been biased and sensationalized.

The CBSC English-Language Panel examined the complaint under the news provisions of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ (CAB) Code of Ethics and the Radio Television Digital News Association of Canada’s (RTDNA) Code of Ethics.  The Panel concluded that the information regarding the teacher’s resignation was inaccurate and therefore violated Clause 5 of the CAB Code and Article 1 of the RTDNA Code, but CTV Kitchener respected Article 7 of the RTNDA Code which requires errors be corrected quickly.  The Panel found no other problems with the station’s coverage, as it was a newsworthy story and all other details broadcast were factual.

The CBSC was created in 1990 by Canada’s private broadcasters to administer the codes of standards that they established for their industry. The CBSC currently administers 7 codes which deal with ethics, equitable portrayal, violence, news and journalistic independence.  Nearly 900 radio stations, satellite radio services, television stations and specialty and pay television services across Canada participate in the Council.