Broadcast watchdog calls out Sun TV
Jun 13, 2012 / 2:40 pm
Canada's broadcast watchdog says Sun News Network violated its code of ethics after host Ezra Levant aimed a "personal and particularly coarse" insult at the executive of a multinational food company.
The decision by the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council centres on a December episode of Levant's talk show, "The Source," where he discussed Chiquita Brands International's move to avoid fuel derived from Alberta's oilsands.
The decision said Levant accused the multinational company of being "anti-Canadian bigots" because it was refusing to use oil from Canadian oil sands, but was willing to use crude from countries with more questionable environmental and humanitarian records.
Levant then named a Chiquita executive who wrote a letter to a representative of Alberta oil companies.
He referred to the letter writer, who had a Spanish name, as a "liar" and then addressed the executive directly saying, "Chinga tu madre."
The CBSC received 22 complaints about the broadcast, all of which explained that the Spanish phrase was a harsh insult that uses an obscenity and has the meaning of "go have sex with your mother."
Sun News responded to all complainants arguing that the word "chingar" had multiple meanings, as did the specific phrase used by Levant, which it said translate into "get lost" and "stop bothering me." Levant even invited a native Spanish speaker on his show to discuss the word.
The CBSC says defending one's opinions with "vigour and even some aggression" is not to be confused with personal insults and coarseness.
It says while Levant was entitled to call for a boycott of Chiquita products, he crossed a line when he named the company executive and hurled his offensive insult in Spanish. The CBSC says the network must inform viewers of its ethics violation on air.
Levant has taken to Twitter asking his fans to weigh in on what his response to the CBSC decision should be.
"Should I obey them? What should the Sun do? Can my bosses risk having me defy the censors? Let me know. My show airs at 5."
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