CRTC weighs new CAB code

The federal regulator is looking for feedback on CAB's new Equitable Portrayal Code.

The CRTC is calling for input on a proposed new equality code, which is meant to improve the portrayal of the sexes and people with disabilities, along with visible minorities and Aboriginal peoples in the media.

The Equitable Portrayal Code, developed by the Canadian Association of Broadcasters last year, would – upon CRTC approval – replace the existing Sex-Role Portrayal Code, which is over 15 years old, and dealt only with the depiction of women in radio and television programming.

‘A number of years ago, the broadcasters and the commission started to recognize that the former standard was a bit out of date . . . so instead of the CRTC locking itself up in a room and writing out some standard, they asked the affected body, the broadcasters’ body, to do it,’ explains industry analyst Ian Morrison of watchdog group Friends of Canadian Broadcasting.

The proposed code highlights particular areas of concern including stereotyping, exploitation, language and terminology, as well as degrading words, sounds and images.

Differences between public broadcasters and private ones, which belong to CAB, could stand out if the code is adopted. ‘You have to ask yourself if someone like (Hockey Night in Canada personality) Don Cherry could ever be broadcast on the private broadcasters if this code were in effect. Probably not. He makes negative comments about people based on their ethnic origin or the fact that they’re francophone,’ Morrison notes.

Nearly 36 public organizations representing ethnocultural, Aboriginal and disability groups in the English- and French-language markets were invited to participate in formulating the Code. The CRTC has set an October 29 deadline for responses, upon which it will be returned to the CAB for further review before the federal regulator’s approval.

This story first appeared in Playback Daily.