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.