TV stations broke ethics codes by airing Abbotsford school stabbing video: ruling

Global BC and CTV Vancouver broadcast cellphone clip of Nov. 1 stabbing

A pair of Vancouver TV stations that broadcast video of a deadly school stabbing violated ethics codes, according to the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC).

Both Global BC and CTV Vancouver aired censored cellphone video of the Nov. 1 incident at Abbotsford Senior Secondary School that left one teenage girl dead and another seriously injured.

That evening, CTV broadcast the clip during its 6 p.m. newscast and Global aired it during both its 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. programs, according to the CBSC.

CTV blurred out the image of the victim, warned viewers of the disturbing content beforehand and did not include the audio, while Global only blurred out the victim but did not warn viewers and played the audio, the CBSC says in a press release.

“The CBSC received numerous complaints from viewers of both stations, complaining that the clip had been too violent and disturbing and that it had been disrespectful to the victims and their families,” the release states.

A CBSC panel looked into the complaints and concluded that broadcasting the video was “unnecessary to tell the story” and the two broadcasters violated both the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ Violence Code and the Radio Television Digital News Association of Canada’s Code of Journalistic ethics.

The CBSC panel also concluded that Global’s failure to warn viewers before airing the video constituted a code violation.