How Do You Solve A Problem Like Hedley

This past week has seen the radio world struggle not only with the moral debate over whether or not to broadcast Canadian band Hedley following allegations of sexual assault. But there has also been a recent decision regarding older songs. 

The issue of whether or not broadcasters should play a song, or remove or ban that song is not something easily addressed. Bell, Corus and the CBC each banned Hedley. We know that there are community radio stations who also took this step.

This story in FYI music, which lifts an editorial from the Winnipeg Free Press asks why Heldey has been singled out, and not Kanye, Bobby Brown, Motley Crew, or Chris Brown. This Editorial does not reflect the fact that in Community radio our programmers and station management have had the same debate each time an artist is disgraced. I know of many people in community radio who boycotted playing Chris Brown. 

Has a moral line been drawn in the sand?

Is it the case that now it's #TimesUp for providing a platform for sexual violence perpetrators? 

These conversations often degrade into debates over historical revisionism. Essentially should we apply today's moral understanding to yesterday's history or culture? 

According to a new decision by the Canadian Broadcasting Standards Council, the answer to that question might be yes. In a complaint presented against Sirius XM regarding a 1958 song that used language degraded and discriminatory to Indigenous women, they noted in their decision the "Panel’s view is that age alone will not “save” a challenged song but the Panel does acknowledge that it is one of the factors to consider". 

When weighing up the obligations for broadcasters not to air abusive, or degrading content, or the need for broadcasters not to present negative portrayals, or stereotypes of people on protected grounds the CBSC found the argument of 'contextual considerations' did not, on the balance of things, excuse the certain language. 

Do we need Context Warnings? 

The NCRA/ANREC is about to launch our digital distribution system. We will be inviting all of our members to comment on the tracks or artists they like, to build up a culture of review for content added. But given the modernizing morality does the NCRA/ANREC need to explore offering Context Warnings on certain bands or artists? 

Tell us what you think! 



We were discussing this earlier today at Riot Radio after seeing the release of the bands statements today. We have had a number of student hosts still include Hedley songs in their playlists over the past couple of weeks but were thinking as a College Student Association service and student run visual station we should have a serious conversation about whether we continue to allow Hedley music played or if we put in place a ban as well.

Would love to hear what others think?

Note that the CBSC does not handle complaints about content broadcast by the campus and community radio sector, and their rulings tend to reflect a certain amount of conservative commercial influence.  

Campus and community radio stations are required to have their own policies on obscenity and profanity, guided by CRTC policy decisions relating to time of day and content warnings, and programmers should be well aware of the policies.  The CRTC requires stations to have those policies in place to deal with any listener complaints that are received by the Commission.  More details about that are contained in the Regulatory Survival Guide, available in the members-only section of the NCRA website.
A related but separate issue is whether material is discriminatory or derogatory.  Stations also should have their own policies on that type of material to guide what programmers broadcast on-air, and provide training to programmers so they can identify situations when they must provide warnings or extra context before airing such material, or refrain from airing the material altogether.  Policies should be guided by CRTC policy decisions and s. 3(b) of the Radio Regulations relating to "abusive comment".  
An old CRTC ruling on the issue of abusive comment as it pertained to an NCRA member station is here, FYI:
Even if content in the digital distribution system is marked with warnings, stations will still be expected to review the material and decide for themselves, based on their own policies, whether the content can justifiably be broadcast, and if so when, and whether an on-air warning or context is necessary.

Hi Luke, 

Thanks for broaching this issue with the NCRA. 
I find the tone with which you have approached discussing the promotion of artists accused of sexual violence shockingly flippant. It is certain that you are writing to a number of people who are survivors of sexual violence, and therefore the content of this message should be framed with more sensitivity. For example, in my opinion, the accompanying graphic cheapens very serious accusations made against all of the artists that you have mentioned in the above email, including Hedley
To your questions, CiTR 101.9FM & Discorder Magazine is in the process of writing an internal Sexual Assault and Harassment policy, and this work has certainly fed into discussions around the station about who deserves our promotion. Though I will say, these discussions are not new. I will be broaching the topic of an official ban of Hedley at our staff meeting, but it is outside of our mandate to play them in the first place, as they are successful in the mainstream. This is also the case for Chris Brown, Bobby Brown, Motley Crew, etc. 
In recent months there have been multiple call-outs of musicians, DJ's and promoters within the Vancouver music scene, some of which have implicated members of CiTR & Discorder's community. This has resulted in difficult discussions, and decisions about our public stance on these issues. 
As a station, we believe survivors of sexual violence, and we endeavour to create a space for our community that is intolerant of this kind of violence, which includes a duty to our listenership. 
Hopefully this feedback is useful. 

Hello Madeline and NCRA/ANREC Members

I want to apologize for not striking the correct tone in my email. And you are correct that my decision to include a graphic I believed would liven the topic, only served to cheapen it. 

Sexual Harassment is something that I personally take very seriously. It is also an area that I've been working on with our NCRA/ANREC and Equity Committee for our NCRC to ensure that it is at the forefront of our conversations moving forward. 

We are about to release the Membership Priority Survey where we specifically ask what policies you may have in place at your station, and our hope here is to be a help by either sharing great policies or drawing best practices from examples such as the one at CITR-FM. 

This is a difficult topic in its entirety. And a topic that needs to be addressed with respect and sensitivity. 

This Idea Thursday was intended to address the specific element of whether or not stations have banned artists such as Hedley or R Kelly as a result of accusations or convictions. I have no doubt that our members, and the office, believe the women. 

Community radio is a privilege. It is a platform for our communities, what, and most importantly, who we provide that platform to is of the utmost importance. I personally do not believe the platform of community radio should be provided to the perpetrators of sexual violence. 

Again, I apologize for the incorrect tone and insensitivity displayed in my previous email. 

As a survivor of assault, of being insulted and degraded by men most of my life. I'm getting totally discussed with all this attention to alleged sexual assault allegations. I have to work every day with someone who assaulted me, in a professional capacity, and I do so brilliantly. 

 What ever happened to innocent until proven guilty? There are always two sides to every story? That the truth lies somewhere in between?

So a guy asks for a blow job, your not required to give it to him.  Oh a man whistles while you walk down a street, boo hoo.  A man stares at your chest instead of your eye? Really. Oh your in and out of his house to the point your in his kitchen digging through his cupboard looking for your dishes and he kisses you, mmm maybe he though their was more to the relationship that's mighty personal. 

If a listener wishes to hear a song I generally play it. Do I agree with the conduct of everyone, no.   We don't play music with vulgar profanity, but with each song you have to make assessment how are they using the word. 

I detest the word bitch when used to insult a woman, yet we have songs were women are taking it as a flag of honour and empowerment.

The word ass when describing a persons behaviour yes that's is vulgar, yet there are songs using it like this, "sit their ass down, grown ass man" just a few of the lyrics I've heard.

There are songs that the artist uses the word niger to mean friend, brother and being black they don't seem to find it offensive to use the word, yet everyone gets all up in arms if someone not black uses it. One of my On air Personalities refuses to play those songs, he finds it on line with calling someone a Big Lazy Drunk Indian.

Being Native North American, First Nations, Aboriginal, what ever the politically correct term is today, I don't allow others to stereotype me, I never have. I don't allow them to put me in those suffocating box telling me who and what I am. I define that. 

I take each person as they are, I don't brush all of them with same brush because of one person's behaviour. Some songs have power and meaning that is taken outta context by the listener and where their state of mind is. Meanings get implied that were never there.

If you chose to ban a band or artist that is the choice you make. This judge and destroy because of one persons alleged bad behaviour is the same as the witch trials and they were rigged for one persons financial gain. 

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