CBC Radio has won a “free speech” ruling in the Federal Court of Appeal over use of the n-word. Judges quashed a CRTC order condemning a radio show deemed so offensive it breached the Broadcasting Act.

“It is well established Parliament may regulate what can and cannot be said on the airwaves and that it has delegated to the CRTC the power to do so,” wrote Justice Marc Noël. “No one takes issue with this.”

“Rules of conduct require broadcasters to be vigilant and sensitive with respect to the language and expressions used on the air to refer to individuals or groups based on, among other things, race,” wrote Justice Noël. However the CRTC order went too far, he added.

“The CRTC overstepped its jurisdiction by sanctioning CBC Radio on the sole basis the content broadcast on the air was in its opinion inconsistent with Canadian broadcasting policy,” wrote Justice Marc Noël. The Court quashed the decision and told the Canadian Radio Television and Telecommunications Commission to reconsider the issue.

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