CBSC overwhelmed with ‘Coach’s Corner’ complaints

Don Cherry and Ron MacLean, seen here in the Nov. 2, 2019 Coach's Corner segment. (Sportsnet.ca)

The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) says it’s been so overwhelmed by complaints about Saturday’s Coach’s Corner segment in which Don Cherry referred to new immigrants as “you people” that it can’t process any more.

“The CBSC has received a large number of very similar complaints concerning Coach’s Corner broadcast on CBC (Sportsnet) on November 9, 2019, exceeding the CBSC’s technical processing capacities. Accordingly, while the CBSC will be dealing with this broadcast under its normal process, it is not able to accept any further complaints,” reads a statement on the independent watchdog’s website.

During the rant in question, Cherry, 85, expressed his dissatisfaction with the low number of people in downtown Toronto sporting poppies in remembrance of Canada’s veterans. He then turned his attention to the immigrant population in smaller cities.

“You people love, that come here…you love our way of life, you love our milk and honey,” said Cherry. “At least you could pay a couple of bucks for poppies or something like that. These guys paid for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada. These guys paid the biggest price.”

The segment prompted apologies from Coach’s Corner co-host Ron MacLean, who was taken to task on social media for nodding in apparent agreement in response to Cherry’s comments. Sportsnet, which produces the Hockey Night in Canada broadcast, also issued a statement from network President Bart Yabsley.

“Don’s discriminatory comments are offensive and they do not represent our values and what we stand for as a network,” said Yabsley. “We have spoken with Don about the severity of this issue and we sincerely apologize for these divisive remarks.”

Sylvie Courtemanche, Chair of the CBSC, told Broadcast Dialogue in an email that the backlash over the Coach’s Corner segment is an example of a viral complaint – a phenomenon that’s emerged over the last half a dozen years.

Spurred in part by social media, one of the most recent examples saw a single complaint in British Columbia account for 15% of all complaints across the country for the year.

In an Aug. 21 broadcast, Fairchild Radio talk show host Thomas Leung made comments on a Vancouver Chinese-language broadcast empathizing with a mob that beat a group of black-shirted protestors in the ongoing anti-government protests in Hong Kong. Leung resigned following the online backlash that also resulted in an overwhelming volume of CBSC complaints.

Courtemanche was a recent guest on Broadcast Dialogue – The Podcast. Hear more about the viral complaint phenomenon here:


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