How to make a broadcasting complaint

If you have seen or heard something on TV or radio that you object to, or you have another type of issue about your broadcasting service, you can make a complaint.

The CRTC is not a board of censors, and can't tell broadcasters what they can air. However, certain standards apply to the content of programs, and broadcasters are expected to comply with these standards.

Who to contact for broadcasting complaints

Different organizations handle different types of complaints. Check this list to file your complaint with the right organization.

First stop for any complaint: your broadcaster

You should contact the broadcaster or your service provider first with any complaint. Many complaints are resolved at this stage.

Do you have a TV service complaint that you have not been able to fix with your provider?

You can contact the Commission for Complaints for Telecom-television Services (CCTS). The CCTS is an independent organization dedicated to working with consumers and service providers to resolve complaints about TV, telephone and internet services. The CCTS website features additional resources on how you can submit a complaint.

Each year the CCTS reports publicly on all consumer complaints it receives. Read their annual and mid-year reports.

Contact the CCTS

Do you have a complaint about TV or radio broadcasting content that you have not been able to fix?

The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) is the complaints resolution body for private radio and TV stations and specialty services. Check if the broadcaster is an Associate of the CBSC. For a complaint that involves a member of the CBSC:

Do you have a complaint about TV or radio advertising content that you have not been able to fix?

Complaints about CBC news or journalistic practices

The Office of the CBC Ombudsman is responsible for evaluating compliance of CBC news and current affairs content with the CBC’s journalistic policies. It is an independent and impartial body that reports directly to the President of the CBC. The CBC Ombudsman will review complaints about the news programming of CBC radio and TV, as well as CBC’s internet and social media news content.

Other complaints including complaints about accessibility

For any other complaints, including complaints about accessibility:

Accessibility issues: The CRTC handles complaints about accessibility. For example, if you ask your broadcasting service provider to submit your bill in Braille and it doesn't do so, contact the company again. If you're still not satisfied, contact the CRTC.

Filing a broadcasting complaint with the CRTC

Write your complaint

All broadcasting complaints must be made in writing. If you make a complaint by phone, you also need to send a written version.

Include this information in your complaint:

Include your name

Include your name with your complaint. The CRTC doesn't follow up on anonymous complaints.

Broadcasters and service providers have the right to know who makes a complaint, and what the complaint is. They also have the right to respond. You can file a complaint with the CRTC, without fear of retaliation from any company.

File within 4 weeks of the broadcast

File your complaint within 4 weeks following the broadcast.

Why? Because broadcasters keep tapes of their broadcasts for 4 weeks. If they receive your complaint more than 4 weeks after the program or ad has aired, the tapes may no longer be available, and the CRTC may not be able to follow up.

Note about broadcast tapes: The CRTC can request tapes for its own use, but can't ask for tapes or transcripts for you. If you want tapes or transcripts of a program, some broadcasters will sell them, but they don't have to provide tapes or transcripts to the public.

How the CRTC handles complaints

Responding to you

CRTC Client Services receives and reviews your complaint, and responds to you directly or forwards your complaint.

Depending on the volume of complaints and enquiries, you should receive a response from the CRTC within 10 working days after the complaint is received, even if it's just to let you know that your complaint has been forwarded.

Forwarding your complaint

Your complaint may be forwarded to one of the following:

Following up

If the company doesn't respond within 20 calendar days, the CRTC sends a written reminder. If there's still no answer, the CRTC raises all unanswered complaints with the company when it applies to renew its licence.

If your complaint alleges that the company violated the Broadcasting Act or CRTC policies or regulations, CRTC staff will decide if any further process or regulatory action is required.

Privacy

If your complaint involves an Associate of the CBSC, the CRTC forwards it right away.

The CRTC notifies you that it is forwarding your complaint, with your name and address, to the company involved. If you have concerns about your privacy, contact the CRTC within 20 calendar days of receiving the notification.

If you contact the CRTC to remove your name and address from the file, the complaint will be withdrawn. If you don't contact the CRTC, the complaint will be pursued.

Under Canada's Privacy Act, you can ask that your correspondence not be made publicly accessible. But if you do, the CRTC may not be able to follow up on your complaint.

Once the file is closed, your name, your complaint, and the response to your complaint are kept in a file that can be read by the public. This information is used to assess the performance of the broadcaster at the time of licence renewal.

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