TSN cited for profanity on its CFL broadcast, says its trying to get players to swear less

WARNING: This story contains explicit language.

TSN has been cited by the Canada Broadcast Standards Council after players on the Hamilton Tiger-Cats were heard saying naughty words on TV after scoring a touchdown.

It’s also trying to get the players to swear less.

According to the council report, which was released late last month, the incident occurred during a game between the Ticats and the Ottawa Redblacks last Oct. 27.

At 9:12 pm, the Tiger-Cats scored a touchdown.  There was a close-up of some Tiger-Cats players expressing their excitement and one player was heard yelling, “Yeah, motherfucker!”, then “Fucking go, boy!” and “Fucking, yeah!”

The next day, the CBSC received a complaint from a viewer who characterized the language as “disgusting and abhorrent” and pointed out that TSN 4 had “already received a ruling for the same offence”, but appeared not to have learned from that past experience.

TSN responded to the complaint by saying that it used microphones “to to capture the excitement and intensity of the game as it unfolds from the perspective of the players,”  and that “this unique audio and camera perspective make it difficult to anticipate the use of profanity by players which are then picked up by our adjacent live microphones.”

The broadcaster also said it had been in touch with the league to try and get the players to stop swearing so much when the cameras were around, to “make them aware of viewer feedback and to strongly caution them to exercise greater awareness throughout live games so as to prevent profanity from being part of the live television broadcasts.”

Both the complainant and the council were unmoved by TSN’s arguments. Apparently, the CBSC has a standing rule that the word “fuck” (and its variations) can only be aired after 9 p.m, regardless of context.

Accordingly, the Panel has determined that, in the present circumstance, TSN 4 violated Clause 10(a) of the CAB Code of Ethics for broadcasting coarse language intended for adult audiences in a program beginning before 9:00 pm.

This isn’t the first time TSN has gotten in trouble for allowing swear words to slip into the broadcasts. In May 2017, the broadcaster was cited for essentially the same thing and council offered three recommendations which included viewer advisories, “immediate repudiation by a host of such language when it occurs,” – essentially asking play-by-play and colour guys to admonish players for using bad words – and asking TSN to “to sensitize players, other on-field personnel, and the sports leagues to avoid using coarse language.”

Those recommendations don’t appear to have been followed or, if they have, don’t appear to have worked though it’s probably also worth noting that it was the same guy that complained both times.

So what are the consequences? Not much. TSN has to announce the ruling on its broadcasts a couple of times.

And good luck with getting players to swear less.