Broadcast of Violence Inappropriate for Children before 9 pm Requires Advisories But Coarseness of Language Will Be Judged by Local Standards

Ottawa, October 1, 2003 – The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning two VRAK.TV broadcasts, one of an episode of Charmed (the French version of the episode titled “Dead Man Dating”) and the other of a French promotional spot for Godzilla. One complainant protested the unnecessary violence in the episode of Charmed and the other complainant was concerned about the use in Godzilla of language he found offensive. The CBSC's Quebec Regional Panel concluded that the episode of Charmed breached Article 5.2 of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters' (CAB) Violence Code regarding viewer advisories. With respect to the Godzilla promotion, the Panel found that the broadcaster did not violate either the special children's programming rules of the Violence Code or the Watershed requirements applicable to the use of offensive language in the CAB Code of Ethics.

The episode of Charmed began with a viewer advisory and a 13+ classification icon. The icon was rebroadcast following each commercial break; the advisory never reappeared. The action began with the shooting of a young man, whose ghost rose from his body and watched the killers pour gasoline over the corpse and set it afire. Otherwise, there was little else of a violent nature in the episode. The Quebec Panel found that, while some of the violence may have been shocking to young viewers, it was essential to the plot development and not gratuitous. Moreover, while the Panel found the episode “far from being exclusively intended for adult audiences,” it concluded that it was inappropriate for young children. Consequently, while VRAK.TV could air the episode prior to 9:00 pm, it needed to do so with appropriate audience alerts:

In the matter at hand, the Panel considers that the level of violence, while certainly not extreme, is inappropriate for young children. […] The broadcaster as much as acknowledged that fact by including an advisory at the start of the program. It should be noted that the Panel's conclusion applies to the specific episode considered here and only to such other episodes of Charmed (or other programs) as may include comparable content. Such decisions regarding the provision of viewer information must be made from time to time as they may be called for by the content of individual episodes. […] VRAK.TV appears to have confused the required frequency of icons and advisories […] In the result, the viewer advisories were not repeated following each commercial break. Consequently, VRAK.TV has breached Article 5.2 of the CAB Violence Code.

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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