and Patrick Bellerose
Several major CHOI Radio X advertisers are withdrawing their advertisements from the air or are considering doing so, because of the discourse that is maintained and which violates health rules during a pandemic.
The stampede continued Monday, after the starting shot launched by the City of Quebec, which announced Monday morning that it was withdrawing its advertisements from the airwaves of the radio station. “The behavior of the owners of this radio station constitutes a danger to public health and the well-being of the citizens of Quebec,” she explained.
This led to a cascade of withdrawals. Restaurants, car dealerships, institutions choose to dissociate themselves from the controversial station.
“Contrary to health”
Hydro-Québec has announced its intention to cancel an advertising campaign planned on its airwaves. “Since various content contrary to public health was broadcast there, we have decided to cease our advertising purchases from Radio X until further notice. With this decision, we want to be consistent with the importance we attach to the health and safety of the public, ”says Marc-Antoine Pouliot, Head of Public Affairs and Media at Hydro-Québec.
Same story with Desjardins. “I can confirm that Desjardins will cease its advertising on CHOI Radio X,” said a spokesperson for Desjardins. […] For the moment, because of the various remarks made on the station, we withdraw our advertisements at this time.
Uniprix followed suit, not appreciating that one of its pre-programmed online ads inadvertently appeared alongside a segment of CHOI Radio X One-Two Punch “which contained disturbing comments regarding the use of masks. facial expressions in public, ”said Andrew Forgione of McKesson Canada.
Pizza Royale, which had partnered with CHOI in the past and which had undertaken a new sponsorship of Eric Duhaime's column last week, also recently chose to withdraw its marbles. “It was a mistake,” commented the president of the company, André Poirier. “I don't want to associate myself with that kind of talk right now.”
The current pandemic “affects everyone”. “This is not the time to try to make some kind of capital, this is not the time to try to get ratings,” he continues.
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It is the positioning of the station that gives a microphone to many followers of conspiracy theories that encourage non-compliance with health instructions that was the trigger.
“It's a business decision, but it's mostly a personal decision,” Poirier comments in an interview. “In the context of the pandemic, where many people are fragile, we must be able to qualify a little and line up behind the government and public health. It is a serious situation, it affects us all. We recognize the greatness of a human being by his ability to position himself in such a way as to take care of the most fragile people. ”
Mr. Poirier says that CHOI is a “very good partner”, but that he has chosen to distance himself from it for an indefinite period. “I give the runner the chance. I give them a chance to reposition themselves. ”
The insurer Industrial Alliance has also chosen to leave the ship. “Considering the decision of the City of Quebec communicated this morning, and recent events, that led us to make the decision to no longer make advertising placements on Radio X”, informed Pierre Picard, public relations manager, Industrial Alliance .
Groupe Paquet, which brings together five dealers, has chosen to withdraw. “We canceled everything and we had nothing planned with them in October. We chose to wait. We have had customer complaints and we did not want to be associated with it, ”said Normand Lemieux, controller at Groupe Paquet.
Mercedes-Benz of Quebec has also decided to distance itself from comments made at the station. “We had an ad that ended tomorrow. We did not have a long-term commitment with Radio X, ”said the vice-president and general manager of the dealership, Tommy Caron. “Here we are for wearing a mask. The sanitary rules are very strict. [The comments on the airwaves] go against the way we work on a daily basis. We don't want to be associated with that. ”
On the side of Groupe Restos Plaisirs, which brings together seven banners in Quebec City, including the restaurants Cochon Dingue, Ciel! and Lapin Sauté, President and CEO Pierre Moreau indicated that he would “reconsider” his business relationship with the station and his advertising placements. “We are concerned about the influence of discourse that aims to undermine public health efforts in the context of the pandemic,” he said.
RNC Media reacts
At the end of the day Monday, the company that owns the station, RNC Media said it could not accept “any tendentious and fallacious association with the conspiracy movement and calls for a boycott which are not based on any statement made on the air by its hosts. The company is also considering all the options available to it to defend its reputation, ”said Robert Ranger President and CEO of RNc Média. “On the air, we will continue to promote respect for sanitary instructions; the only means currently available to limit contagion and stem this pandemic. ”
In the return program, host Denis Gravel spoke of a “witch hunt” on the part of the Quebec media. “There are a lot of people who decide to use an opportunity to spank on media,” he says.
Denis Gravel believes that this is an organized campaign. “There are a lot of media out there waiting for the ad to air. Because the texts were ready, everyone had been notified except us. It's a kind of campaign or stupid dinner, where we just waited to get caught in the trap to be able to start this campaign which is currently underway, campaign which has only one objective, is to shut down the station. “, he added.