Stop Homophobia


Complaint Against Jimmy Swaggart Lodged in Canada

A volunteer with Stop Homophobia lodged a complaint with the Canadian Radio and Television Commission, because this sermon was shown on a Canadian cable TV station. As a result of complaints received, the cable TV station will preview all sermons to ensure there is no offensive material. We appreciate their action. The following email was received from the cable TV system that aired the offensive sermon:

We have received your complaint to the CBSC regarding a comment made during the Jimmy Swaggart program that aired on OMNI.1 on September 12, 2004. OMNI.1 is an ethnic television station owned and operated by Rogers Broadcasting Limited, and Rogers is a member in good standing of the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC). We have reviewed the logger tape of the day in question and thank you for the opportunity to respond directly to your complaint.

From the outset, let me be very clear. OMNI Television apologizes for the comments made by Jimmy Swaggart during the program in question. We value the rich diversity in the local communities we serve and do not in any way condone abusive or discriminatory material in the programming carried on our stations.

Before dealing further with the substance of your complaint, I thought it would be appropriate to set out some additional background information, to further examine these comments.

Precise Comments Made by Jimmy Swaggart Without in any way condoning the comments themselves, I believe it is appropriate to precisely set out the comments made by Jimmy Swaggart.

During the sermon portion of the program, Jimmy Swaggart was discussing in great detail a story about a former drug addict who had turned his life around in a very dramatic way. However, as an aside, not relevant to the story in question, Jimmy Swaggart turned to the issue of gay marriage and made a number of comments that have ultimately formed the basis for your complaint.

He first emphasized:

"I've never seen a man in my life I wanted to marry."

He then stated:

"And I'm going to be blunt and plain. If one ever looks at me like that, I'm going to kill him and tell God he died."

Following these comments, Jimmy Swaggart went on to state that he did not blame the homosexuals themselves. Rather, he blamed lawmakers in the United States and their indecisiveness on the issue of gay marriage. He concluded by supporting President Bush and his proposal for an amendment to the United States Constitution to uphold the concept of the "traditional" marriage between a man and a woman.

OMNI Television Program Review Process

OMNI Television has established systems and procedures to review this type of programming so as to avoid this kind of a situation from occurring. Tapes from the Jimmy Swaggart program are pre-screened by our programming acquisitions group. Should they contain any potential abusive or offensive material, the program is then further reviewed by management in our Programming Department to ensure that its content complies with the standards and guidelines established at OMNI Television, and in the various codes administered by the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council. At this stage, should any comments in a particular Swaggart program be deemed offensive or abusive, our Programming Department will identify it as such and take whatever measure may be appropriate to rectify the situation (e.g. amend or edit the program, or not carry it all).

In this case, our Programming Department did review the program in question, and concluded that Jimmy Swaggart was expressing a personal, political opinion on the issue of gay marriage. In hindsight, we realize that we made an error in judgement. As the broadcaster of the Jimmy Swaggart program, OMNI Television takes full responsibility for having aired the program. We apologize to you, and to all of our viewers, for any frustration or aggravation caused by the comments made by Jimmy Swaggart during his program.

We will also broadcast a formal on-air apology on this issue. The statement will be broadcast at approximately the same time of the day and week as the broadcast of the Swaggart program (i.e. Sunday morning). In a follow-up e-mail to you in the coming weeks, we will provide you with a text of the apology statement read on the air, as well as information as to when it was actually broadcast. A copy of this information will, of course, also be provided to the CBSC.

Thank you for taking the time to express your opinion about programming content on OMNI Television. We certainly value the opinions of all our viewers. Through this letter, we hope that we have adequately addressed the concerns you expressed in your complaint. You can be sure that any future broadcasts of the Swaggart program will be reviewed with much greater care and scrutiny by our Programming staff to ensure that no abusive or discriminatory commentary is included.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you wish to discuss this issue further or any other concerns you may have about OMNI Television.


Public Apology Regarding Jimmy Swaggart Aired

The following email letter was received by a volunteer with this web site January 10, 2005.

This letter serves as a follow-up to our initial apology sent on November 4, 2004, regarding the comments made during the broadcast of a Jimmy Swaggart program on OMNI.2 on Sunday, September 12. 2004. In that apology, we noted that the station would be subsequently issuing a formal on-air apology on the matter. We have done so. On the mornings of Sunday, December 19, 2004, and Sunday, December 26, 2004, at approximately 8 am, we issued the following apology:

The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council has received a number of complaints regarding our broadcast of the Jimmy Swaggart program on Sunday, November 12. The complaints focus on offensive comments made by Jimmy Swaggart regarding homosexuals and the issue of gay marriage.

OMNI Television has already provided a written response to each one of our viewer complaints. We outlined OMNI's program review process as it related to the program and apologized for having aired the comments in question.

Although the CBSC may further review the complaints, we believe it is also important for us to issue this formal apology to all of our viewers. OMNI Television apologizes for any offence or affront the comments may have caused.

Should you have any other questions or concerns regarding this matter, please do not hesitate to contact me directly.