Advertisement for Horror Movie Can Be Broadcast before 9:00 pm, Says Canadian Broadcast Standards Council

Ottawa, April 10, 2008 – The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning an advertisement for the feature film SkinWalkers aired during the July 26, 2007 8:00 pm broadcast of Big Brother 8 on Global Television.  A viewer complained that this horror movie commercial contained scenes of violence that should not have been shown at a time when children were watching television.  The CBSC National Conventional Television Panel disagreed; it concluded that the scenes from the movie were not so violent as to necessitate a post-9:00 pm broadcast.

SkinWalkers was a feature film about werewolves that was theatrically released in August 2007.  The 15-second advertisement contained a rapid series of very brief clips from the movie.  These included four quick flashes of different werewolves, a close-up of an eyeball changing colour, a woman with fangs who roared at the camera, a cut to werewolf eyes, as well as shots of men and women holding semi-automatic weapons leaping away from an exploding gas station.  The commercial was broadcast twice during Big Brother.

The National Conventional Television Panel examined the complaint under Article 3.3 of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ (CAB) Violence Code, which requires that advertisements containing scenes of violence intended for adults be broadcast only between 9:00 pm and 6:00 am.  The Panel determined that the advertisement did not contain any scenes that could be considered “intended for adults only”.  It noted that the feature film itself was not given that rating and that the reality program Big Brother was not targeted at children.  It made the following comments:

While certain of the images were somewhat startling, such as those of the werewolf eyes and fangs, they did not depict any scenes of actual violence.  Moreover, given that the entire commercial lasted only 15 seconds, the images were too fleeting to become problematically violent.  Had the commercial been longer and showed more graphic details of the werewolves’ activities, this Panel might have concluded otherwise.
It should also be noted that the commercial aired during the program Big Brother, a program which not infrequently deals with mature themes and is not in any way targeted to children.

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Given that the movie itself did not contain material deemed to be intended exclusively for adults, it is not likely that the commercial for the movie would fall into that category.  The Panel concludes that Global did not violate Article 3.3 in this broadcast of the trailer for SkinWalkers.

Canada’s private broadcasters have themselves created industry standards in the form of Codes on ethics, equitable portrayal and television violence by which they expect the members of their profession will abide.  They also created the CBSC, which is the self-regulatory body with the responsibility of administering those professional broadcast Codes, as well as the Code dealing with journalistic ethics created by the Radio Television News Directors Association of Canada (RTNDA) and the Journalistic Independence Code.  More than 630 radio stations, satellite radio services, television stations and specialty services from across Canada are members of the Council.

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All CBSC decisions, Codes, links to members' and other web sites, and related information are available on the CBSC's website at www.cbsc.ca. For more information, please contact the CBSC National Chair, Mme Andrée Noël CBSC Executive Director, John MacNab