16 - May 2005 - David Mainse & 100 Huntley Street Ministries
This is a follow-up on the topic in the last editorial posted here. In the editorial, concerns were expressed regarding the transcripts of several 100 Huntley Street Television programs that appear on a web site that is part of the 100 Huntely Street Ministry.
An individual not acting on behalf of this web site expressed personal concerns regarding the 100 Huntley Street programs. The concerns went to the Canadian Broadcasting Standards Council. Global Television, the network that aired the program investigated. Their response to the concerns appears in italics below:
We are in receipt of your email to the CBSC regarding the April 5th, 2005 broadcast of "100 Huntley Street" on Global Edmonton.
Let me begin by saying that as responsible broadcasters, we are sensitive to the members of our viewing audience, and that we are sorry that this segment of "100 Huntley Street" offended you. I assure you that it was not our intention to do so.
Our staff members are educated to make programming decisions thoughtfully and with sensitivity and to produce, purchase and schedule material in accordance with community standards and with the Canadian Association of Broadcasters' (CAB) Code of Ethics, Sex-Role Portrayal Code for Television and Radio Programming, and the Voluntary Code Regarding Violence in Television Programming.
Under the Broadcasting Act, broadcasters are required to provide a broad spectrum of entertainment and information programming for "men, women and children of all ages, interests and tastes". Television programming is required to be diverse and appealing to a wide range of audiences. As a result, what one viewer might consider an interesting or informative program might lead another to turn the channel.
The Act further requires that the Canadian broadcasting system "provide a reasonable opportunity for the public to be exposed to the expression of differing views on matters of public concern". As you know, the controversy surrounding "same-sex marriages", as discussed in the program, has been a matter of public debate for some time now, and has generated a wide range of public opinions. Admittedly, this issue is an emotional one for many people, as it deals with personal, religious and social values. Nonetheless, it is an issue of public concern, and it does merit discussion of the different views surrounding this issue, even if we don't agree with those views.
In recognizing the controversial nature of this program, we air an advisory prior to broadcast informing viewers that the opinions expressed during the program are those of the producers.
The CBSC has considered comments made by preachers regarding gays and lesbians on a number of occasions. As an example, in CHCH-TV re Life Today with James Robison (CBSC Decision 95/96-0128, April 30, 1996), the Ontario Regional Panel did not find that criticism of "the gay lifestyle" in a religious program constituted abusively discriminatory comment.
The host's message was that monogamous heterosexuality was the "right" lifestyle. He expressed the view that a proper interpretation of the Bible leads to the conclusion that homosexuality is an unacceptable lifestyle (as is also the case with adulterous heterosexuality, according to his interpretation). It is not the Council's mandate to determine the correctness of the views presented, but only whether the views were presented in a non-abusive, legitimate manner. In a contrary circumstance, they would be in breach of the Code; however, in this case, the Council finds that the host's statements were expressed as his moral position, presented in a legitimate manner and not at all as hateful commentary.
As we have stated earlier, we appreciate the fact that this issue is a controversial one that has generated a wide range of public opinions. Nonetheless, we do not believe that the broadcast of this program contravened CRTC regulations or guidelines. We do, however, believe that the producers of this program should be made aware of your concerns, and we are doing so by copy of this letter to the producers and also encourage you to contact them to make your views known at the address below.
In the meantime, we thank you for your comments regarding our programming. It is only by communicating with our viewing audience that we can better reflect their needs and interests in our programming.
Coordinator of Compliance Standards
Ms. Bender makes very valid points. The expression of opinion, even if that opinion might not be correct, is acceptable, as long as the opinions are expressed in a way that is not abusive. Her response seems very reasonable. Her response, however, did not satisfy the person who expressed concern regarding David Mainse's broadcasts, because they did not review the television programs in for which transcripts appear on the web site that is part of the 100 Huntley Street Ministries.
This person responded as follows:
Your email did not address the concerns I had with the transcripts of previous programs aired on 100 Huntley Street. Those transcripts are found on the web site to which I made reference in my email of concern.
Mr. Mainse appears to be holding gay people and marriages of gay people responsible for high taxes, social problems, strained social service budgets and children born out of wedlock. My concern is that Mr. Mainse might be unintentionally getting into the realm of making gay people the scapegoat for societal problems. That is problematic! I also believe scapegoating, be it unintentional or not, should not be encouraged on television.
We do not believe David Mainse is the kind of person who would intentionally blame gay people for societal problems or would mean to imply that societal problems are due to gay marriages. There are times when people speak without realizing what they said could hurt people. That happens to the best of us from time-to-time.
We have word from the person who complained to the Canadian Broadcast Council Standards that the Council is reviewing the concerns, because the response from Global Television was not considered to be adequate. We will keep you posted as we receive more information.