Talk radio show violated broadcast standards: CBSC

The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) released three decisions about Quebecois weekday talk radio show Dupont le midi.
The CBSC received numerous complaints from 2008-2010 about a range of
issues, including allegations of insensitive comments about suicide
victims, inappropriate language, negative representations of Haitians
and inaccurate information about social assistance.

The show airs from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. every week day with host Stéphane Dupont, along with different co-hosts, who talk about social and political issues and current affairs.

The first complaint the CBSC addressed was about the misrepresentation of social assistance.

Broadcaster Magazine reports:

“The hosts made statements about the dollar amounts that social assistance recipients receive and expressed the view that a single mother is better off collecting welfare than working at a paying job. The CBSC received a complaint from the Front commun des personnes assistées sociales du Québec which explained that the dollar amounts noted by Dupont le midi were entirely inaccurate. The CBSC’s Quebec Regional Panel explained that, while the hosts ‘are entitled to hold and broadcast their own derogatory and disparaging opinions regarding social welfare and aid recipients, they owe it to their audience that the basis for their argument be based on sound, rather than misleading, information.’ The Panel agreed with the complainant organization that the program had repeatedly distorted the numbers and had inappropriately presented them with the factual authority that flows from hosting a radio show, thus violating Clause 6 of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ (CAB) Code of Ethics.”

Second, the CBSC reviewed a series of complaints about multiple episodes where host Dupont discusses his view that suicide is a cowardly act, and that suicidal people need “a kick in the butt” rather than “a helping hand,” Broadcaster reports. The CBSC also received complaints that Dupont had named two men who had recently committed suicide, suggesting that the host insulted the men. The majority of the CBSC panel argued that the show’s overall message was that suicide wasn’t a solution, and found no problem with revealing the names of the two men, which was information available on the internet. Two adjudicators dissented, suggesting that Dupont’s negative comments about suicidal people was “potentially dangerous” and a dismissive attitude towards the mental health problems of “two specific and named individuals” was insensitive.

The third decision involved a discussion about Haiti following the country’s January 2010 earthquake. Dupont announced that he wouldn’t be making any donations to Haiti, suggesting that he couldn’t be certain where the money would go. Broadcaster reports that Dupont “complained that he had seen on the news a group of healthy Haitians just sitting around waiting for government handouts. He also characterized the Haitian government as thieves. Finally, he referred to the city of Port-au-Prince and Haitians as criminals.” The panel concluded that while the comments on their own were not “unduly discriminatory,” the cumulative effect created an “unduly negative portrayal of Haitians contrary to Clause 3 of the CAB Equitable Portrayal Code,” Broadcaster reports.

In each of the three decisions, the panel also found that Dupont violated the Claude 9(c) of the CAB Code of Ethics for his use of French religious epithets and use of “fuck” in broadcasts.