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Get 'hate mongering' off air: Fantino

Heres latest from Toronto Star:

Get police 'hate mongering' off the air: Fantino

DALE ANNE FREED
STAFF REPORTER

Toronto police Chief Julian Fantino is pressuring Ryerson University to ban a program on its campus radio station that airs negative stories about police.

Bad Cop, No Donut! on CKLN 88.1 FM focuses on "stories about police abuse that happen throughout North America each week, taken mostly from local newspapers,'' said Ron Anicich, the show's volunteer radio host, producer and self-described anarchist.

It ends with an invitation from the 38-year-old Anicich to: "Email your comments and story ideas to ihatepigs (at) hotmail.com."

"I'm disgusted that this kind of hate mongering would be directed at our police officers," Fantino said yesterday.

"The issue here is to have Ryerson do the right thing.

"The right thing would be for them to take action to ensure this type of hate mongering is not perpetuated."

But a Ryerson spokesperson said the station is a separate entity from the university.

No complaints have been filed with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, an independent agency responsible for regulating the country's airwaves. .

Bad Cop, No Donut! is broadcast live from a studio at Ryerson every Thursday during an hour-long program called Rude Awakening at 6 a.m. and has been running since September.

According to its website, the show is picked up by stations in Vancouver; Nelson, B.C.; Los Angeles; Pittsburgh; Washington, D.C.; Idaho and New York.

CKLN news director Kristin Schwartz defended the show.

"I think what should really be disturbing to people is not an email address but the real impact on people's lives of police abuse," she said. "I think it's important to tell those stories."

Anicich said he wasn't sure "why Toronto police would have a problem with this."

"If his (the chief's) problem is the content of the show then he should know I'm not telling anybody anything that hasn't been in the newspaper already. My intention is strictly to relate the facts, period."

According to a transcript of a Feb. 17 program, Anicich mentioned "an ongoing RCMP investigation into widespread corruption in Toronto police."

Fantino told the Star he objected to the term "widespread corruption" and said the overwhelming majority of officers were "hardworking professionals."

Downtown Toronto's 52 Division has been the centre of the police scandal since last April, when it was first revealed that an RCMP-led task force was probing allegations that some officers were involved in the shakedown of bars in the Entertainment District.

Ryerson spokesperson Bruce Piercey said the station doesn't get any funding from the university.

"The university has no direct connection to CKLN. They have their own CRTC licence and are obligated to meet their obligations according to that licence," said Piercey.

"The radio station is a separately incorporated organization."

It raises its own funding through fundraising and advertising revenue and RyeSac, the student union, supplies funds to it on an annual basis, said Piercey.

CKLN, like most college stations, isn't a member of the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council.

"We would not be in a position to receive a complaint or deal with a complaint relating to them," said Ron Cohen, national chair of the council.

And if CKLN were a member, the broadcast council would not be able to intervene on the question of hate mongering because the police "would not be considered to be a protected group under the code of ethics."

As to whether the comments are appropriate "it would take a panel to decide a matter like that. We have no previous examples where a comment like that has been raised for treatment on that basis," Cohen said.

The human rights clause in the Canadian Association of Broadcasters' Code of Ethics applies to 550-plus stations and networks across Canada, he said.

But the clause wouldn't cover the police.

"Our ruling in the past is that members of professions or occupations are not identifiable groups benefiting from protection afforded by the human rights clause,'' Cohen said.

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