The end of the Bye-Bye saga?

Remember Bye-Bye 2008, the Radio-Canada New Year’s Eve special?

You must remember it. There were dozens of articles written in January about it.

Anyway, the special was criticized for crossing the lines a few times, particularly with jokes about Barack Obama, Jonathan Roy, Nathalie Simard and anglophones. Hundreds of complaints were registered with the CRTC, whom we learned is responsible for regulating such things with the CBC.

Because of the nature of these complaints, the CRTC decided to do something a bit unusual and referred the case to the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council. The CBSC is an independent body setup by the Canadian Association of Broadcasters that judges just these sorts of things. But the CAB is an association of private broadcasters, and the CBC/Radio-Canada isn’t part of it. Instead, the CRTC itself must judge violations of ethics codes and anti-discrimination laws by the public broadcaster.

The CBSC met in March and in May it released a decision that judged Radio-Canada to be in violation on three points:

  • Jokes against blacks, particularly the sketch involving Denis Lévesque and Barack Obama as well as comments from Jean-François Mercier about Obama being easier to shoot in front of the White House.
  • The portrayal of violence against women in a sketch involving the family of Patrick Roy.
  • The rebroadcast of the show the next evening without viewer advisories.

But it dismissed a bunch of other complaints, including:

  • Jokes about Nathalie Simard
  • Jokes about anglophones
  • Jokes about the poor
  • Jokes about immigrants, dépanneur owners and Indian call centres
  • Jokes about Julie Couillard
  • Jokes about Céline Dion
  • Jokes about politicians
  • Jokes about General Motors

The CSBC didn’t call for any pennance for these misdeeds. Instead, the report went to the CRTC for it to judge.

On Monday, the CRTC issued its decision (with accompanying press release) that upheld most of what the CBSC judged, with one notable exception: no fault was found with the Patrick Roy/Jonathan Roy sketch, which the CRTC judged did not glorify violence and did not show it in a positive light that might suggest it was promoting it.

The CRTC has called for Radio-Canada to issue a full, unequivocal apology (RadCan and the show’s creators have made a lot of “I’m sorry but” statements) and put procedures in place so that this doesn’t happen again, but no fines or other punishments have been levied for these violations.

That apology will no doubt generate another news cycle for this story (RadCan’s immediate response was to say they’re studying the decision), and then we’ll be finally done with it.

At least, until the next Bye-Bye appears on the horizon. New Year’s Eve is only four months away.

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9 thoughts on “The end of the Bye-Bye saga?

  1. Karine

    I saw the Bye Bye and I disagree with the findings of racism. The Denis Lévesque sketch was bad and uncalled for but not racist. He maybe a pompous, ignorant blowhard but there is no indication that he’s racist. To say that the sketch attacked us blacks is ridiculous and clearly misses the point the sketch was trying to make, even if it was way off target. If anyone deserves an apology it’s the LCN host for the diffamatory (not sure if that’s an English word) sketch. Le Gros Cave’s shooting Obama joke was simply tone deaf but maybe the ByeBye writers didn’t know about the fears in the black community about Obama being shot.

    1. GHBnotorious

      I’m not worried that Obama may be shot.

      But I am worried that our Public Broadcaster – who takes our tax money – is so clueless about the black community that no one thought this may be in very bad taste.

      I have never been a proponent of affirmative action but I just wish that the production staff at Novem had a few black friends who could have told them that this would not fly.

  2. Tym Machine

    I was deeply offended by the jokes against English canadians where Jeff Mercier said they were interbreeding incestuously and that generated a generation of imbeciles.

    I don’t know why this kind of racist humour seems more acceptable in the eyes of Radio-Canada then the jokes about blacks where the n word was abundly used.

  3. Tym Machine

    “•Jokes about Nathalie Simard
    •Jokes about anglophones
    •Jokes about the poor
    •Jokes about immigrants, dépanneur owners and Indian call centres
    •Jokes about Julie Couillard
    •Jokes about Céline Dion
    •Jokes about politicians
    •Jokes about General Motors”

    Wow, are we entitled to make a joke about anything in this country????

    We might as well keep our mouths shut forever or shall we?

  4. Jim J.

    I was listening to yesterday’s (September 1) podcast of CBC Daybreak, and they were interviewing a pair of people about this – one of them a woman who, apparently, has nothing better to do with her life than to create a Facebook group dedicated to how offensive she perceived the Bye Bye to be. She was, predictably, shrill, uptight and generally humorless, and didn’t display any kind of intellectual credibility, other than her self-proclaimed status as an aggrieved person. (Who isn’t an aggrieved person, when you think about it?)

    In the course of the entire segment – which was probably about, oh, 6 minutes or so (which is a pretty major segment in live radio, I think) Nancy Wood never once mentioned that the CRTC dismissed the large majority of the complaints. Kind of an important plot point, in my book. In fact, I think the only mention or description of the actual “offence” was an allusion to the “n-word” having been used. (Talk about sanitization.)

    The gentleman she was interviewing – if I remember, his name was Farkas (sp?), who works in some capacity with a youth organization in Little Burgundy, was talking about a class-action lawsuit. I’ll be curious to know how far that gets.

    So, yeah, Bye Bye in poor taste, and blah blah blah, yada yada yada. I guess we’re now invoking that perceived, manufactured, and fictional “human right” to go through one’s entire life and never have one’s sensibilities offended.

    This was not radio’s finest moment, CBC Daybreak. At least get some interviewees who have some kind of meaningful, thoughtful and considered insights to offer.

  5. Enkidu

    This year Bye-Bye was generally in bad taste. The public reception of it was pretty negative, which is judgment enough. Talking of going to court for this is waste of time…


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