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Female reporter kissed on live TV as she covered music festival

Crowd in Montreal, Québec, Canada on 31 July 2010 for the Osheaga Music and Arts Festival at Parc Jean-Drapeau.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Wikicommons
August 08, 2017 - 6:00 AM

MONTREAL - The latest incident of a female TV reporter being harassed on the job has the federation representing Quebec journalists calling for the public to be reminded such behaviour is unacceptable.

Radio-Canada's Valerie-Micaela Bain was kissed on the cheek by an unidentified concert-goer as she went live from Montreal's Osheaga music festival.

Startled, she shoved him away and yelled at him before calmly continuing her report Friday night.

"Kissing someone without their consent is no," she wrote in a Facebook post outing the unidentified man with images and video that was then shared nearly 8,000 times.

"You're bothering me. I'm working."

Stephane Giroux, head of the Quebec journalists' federation, believes it's a clear-cut case of sexual harassment.

"You would not do that to a random person on the street," Giroux said Monday. "What makes you think you can do this to a reporter on television doing her work?

"For me, it's mind-boggling that an adult male would think that he has a right to do this."

In her post, Bain makes clear the kiss was not adorable or flattering.

"In the end I would like him to understand why his gesture is unacceptable," she wrote.

The debate over the incident and the reporter's reaction has raged, but Giroux, a veteran television reporter with CTV, said Bain was nothing but professional.

"It's extremely stressful to be live on television, you have to focus, you have to aware of your environment," he said. "I don't think we can simply dismiss it by saying: 'tough luck, you're going live and it's part of the game.'"

Over the weekend, Radio-Canada took to its Facebook page to commend Bain for keeping her composure on air after the incident.

"It goes without saying that Radio-Canada denounces this kind of unacceptable behaviour towards its journalists and that the safety of our journalists is of paramount importance for us," the French-language CBC said.

Radio-Canada declined to comment further on the matter Monday and wouldn't say if a police complaint had been filed.

"For now, everything has been said on the weekend — both on social media and from Madame Bain — so we have nothing further to add," spokesman Marc Pichette said.

Montreal police cited confidentiality in refusing to say whether an investigation is underway.

The incident follows others in which on-camera female reporters were heckled with a notorious sexually explicit phrase, often abbreviated to "FHRITP."

There have been several cases in North America, including one involving a heckler screaming it at a reporter covering a Toronto FC soccer game.

Some newsrooms across the country have instituted procedures and guidelines, with some hiring private security.

"I don't think it should (have to) be that way," Giroux said.

"I think adults should have a lot more judgment than that."

News from © The Canadian Press, 2017
The Canadian Press

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