Radio-Canada's answer to the controversy surrounding it's "Bye Bye 2008" comedy special



    MONTREAL, Jan. 7 /CNW Telbec/ - A long-standing tradition of
CBC/Radio-Canada's French network, the Bye Bye is a year-end comedy special
renowned for its brashness and irreverence. There is generally some degree of
controversy attached to it, and some audience members occasionnaly deem that
certain skits go too far. Though the writers, stars and producers of the show
do not aim to be offensive, some of the material can be missunderstood,
especially if presented in print format such as in yesterday's Globe and Mail.
    In response to the complaints expressed by French viewers and critics,
Sylvain Lafrance, Radio-Canada's Executive Vice-President has issued the
following statement.

    KNOWING HOW TO LISTEN

    The controversy surrounding the latest edition of the Bye Bye shows the
extent to which airing a humorous, satire-oriented program open to many levels
of interpretation can be risky business. This is all the more true when the
show in question is the most anticipated, most watched and most talked about
broadcast of the year.
    Radio-Canada is receptive to all the comments expressed in viewer
correspondence, in newspapers and on the Web. We got the message loud and
clear. We'll learn from the experience and factor it into our future
discussions and decisions regarding projects of a similar nature.
    This should not be interpreted as our disowning the program team that put
its heart and soul into this broadcast, or as a sign that Radio-Canada will
now shy away from daring concepts. It would also be a shame if this
controversy were to overshadow the outstanding original programming that we
brought viewers throughout New Year's Eve.
    What I take away from this episode is that it shows just how delicate a
balancing act we face. On one hand, you have the creators' inspiration, on the
other, the unwritten boundaries that vary from one person or social group to
the next. I realize that it's up to us to draw the line. It's an exercise we
must perform on a case-by-case basis and we don't claim to be infallible in
our choices. Some will accuse us of negligence and others of censorship,
sometimes on the same issue. This is inevitable in a pluralist, democratic
society.
    Were we overly lenient in the case of the latest Bye Bye? The answer
we've been receiving from the public is a resounding yes, and we've taken
note. One thing is certain: this example illustrates just how in touch
Radio-Canada needs to be with Canadians and how it must spare no effort to
fulfill this responsibility fairly and transparently, while respecting freedom
of expression and the public's sensibilities.
    This is how Radio-Canada can show that one of the most important
qualities of a public broadcaster is knowing how to listen.

    Sylvain Lafrance
    Executive Vice-President, CBC/Radio-Canada French Services




For further information:

For further information: Marc Pichette, Directeur, Relations publiques
et promotion, Télévision et Information, (514) 597-4140

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