How Your Complaint
The Press Council's
mandate is to consider "unsatisfied" complaints from the public about
the conduct of its member newspapers in gathering and publishing news
and opinion against its Code of Practice. The Code of Practice was developed
by the Press Council to encourage the highest standard of professionalism
and ethical standards of journalism. The Council is concerned with newspapers
and their online news sites only. Complaints about television and radio and complaints about advertising
should be directed to the bodies set up to deal with such complaints.
Council will deal
with a complaint after:
- The newspaper
has been given opportunity to resolve the complaint.
- The action taken
by the newspaper has failed to satisfy the complaint.
- Mediation efforts
by the Executive-Director have failed to resolve the issue.
To be considered,
a complaint must be detailed and relate to a specific conduct of the newspaper
that violates the Code of Practice.
Council will generally not consider a complaint filed more than 45 days
after the occurrence given rise to it, but at the discretion of a majority
of the full board of the B.C. Press Council, may extend the time period
in an exceptional and important case in the opinion of the BC Press Council.
will not consider a complaint in which legal action is involved or contemplated
since the Council was established and designed to serve as an inexpensive
and informal alternative to legal action. Complainants are required to
sign a waiver prior to the scheduling of a hearing agreeing not to pursue
Most complaints normally only involve modest expenses for stationary and
postage. Council will reimburse complainants for reasonable travel expenses
related to attendance at a hearing.
Council may at its discretion decline to consider or cease an inquiry
if the complaint is deemed to be frivolous, vexatious or made in bad faith.
Complaints that reflect mere differences of opinion will be considered
only in exceptional cases. See Policy Statements.
Complaints about non-publication of letters will not be considered except
in exceptional cases. See Policy Statements.
Who may complain
Any individual or organization directly affected by matters of which they
are complaining may file a complaint. Anonymous complaints will not be
Occasionally, the Press Council may consider complaints from third parties
(people not directly affected) but only where the complainant raises a
significant issue of press ethics and a prima facie breach of the Press
Council Code of Practice. A third-party complaint must be accompanied
by waivers (where obtainable) from directly effected parties agreeing
not to pursue legal action, and accompanied by written consents from the
Parties directly effected. The decision to order a hearing in the case
of a third-party complaint will be made by a quorum of the Board of Directors
and not by the Review Committee.
When a hearing is scheduled, a complainant and the newspaper are required
to submit all written evidence 14 days in advance of the hearing date.
Submissions after this time will not be accepted.
2. All hearings are
in public. No legal representation is allowed. Witnesses are sworn in
and no verbatim record of the proceedings is taken. Both the complainant
and the newspaper will be given the opportunity to present their case
and question each other's evidence. Council directors may also pose questions
to witnesses. In the event of a procedural question, the chair shall determine
the manner to be followed to proceed to the conclusion of the hearing.
Upon conclusion of the hearing, Council directors will deliberate in camera.
Their decision will be announced in a press release. The newspaper involved
is required to publish Council's decision in full. Press Council decisions
are final and not subject to appeal.