The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council received 6,676 complaints after Krista Erickson interviewed contemporary dancer Margie Gillis on a segment of Canada Live on Sun News Network on June 1, 2011, but after review, has concluded that the broadcast did not violate provisions under the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ Code of Ethics.

The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council received 6,676 complaints after Krista Erickson interviewed contemporary dancer Margie Gillis on a segment of Canada Live on Sun News Network on June 1, 2011, but after review, has concluded that the broadcast did not violate provisions under the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ Code of Ethics.

In case you missed it, or have forgotten the interview in question, here it is:

The CBSC evaluated the complaints under two clauses – one pertaining to full, fair and proper presentation, and the other to controversial public issues.

The report says that almost all of those who complained to the CBSC about the interview said that Erickson had attacked Gillis verbally and treated her unfairly. Erickson takes a blatantly anti-arts-funding stance through the interview and doesn’t back down. The panel noted that “hosts of discussion programs are allowed to reveal their opinions on the topics being discussed, even if those opinions are controversial, unpopular and provocative,” and further, that “codes allow for hosts to be biased and aggressive in their presentation of views and questioning of interviewees.”

At one point during the interview, Erickson waves her arms around in the air, apparently in an attempt to imitate Gillis’ dance style. The CBSC notes that though it was “somewhat mocking,” that “these issues relate more to issues of courtesy and politeness and do not constitute Code breaches.”

Futher, the CBSC says Gillis was given ample time to respond to Erickson’s “aggressive” questioning, and did so “ably and articulately.”

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“The positions both ‘for’ and ‘against’ government funding for the arts were clearly presented during the segment, so there is no violation … for lack of balance,” the report says.

However, the issue that a number of the complainants took was that the segment was presented as a discussion around arts funding, yet it ended up with Erickson merely questioning Gillis on the funding she had received.

The CBSC said that some complaints focused on the accuracy of the dollar amounts that Erickson presented, but they found that based on the Canada Council for the Arts website, the numbers were accurate, save for one prize, but the “misrepresentation was minor and did not impact the overall debate.”

Gillis and her foundation have received $1.2 million in grants and funding over the last 13 years – which, on average, amounts to a bit more than $90,000 per year. 

A full correspondence between the complainants and Sun News can be found here.

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