Documentary Containing Coarse Language and Sexually Explicit Discussions Should Air After 9:00 pm, Says Canadian Broadcast Standards Council

Ottawa, May 24, 2002 – The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning the National Film Board's documentary Love on the Line which was broadcast by the specialty service Bravo! on August 3, 2001 at 4:00 pm EDT. The documentary, a subtitled version of the French film Les miroirs aveugles, is about the use of telephone dating services and sex lines. It contained instances of coarse language and sexually explicit discussions which the CBSC National Specialty Services Panel deemed to be intended for adult audiences. It thus should have aired only after the Watershed hour of 9:00 pm.

The documentary is told through the experiences of a number of individuals. Their interviews included comments on their attitudes toward telephone dating services, acknowledgment of their addiction (in many of the cases) to such services, their own understanding of why they used such services, the recounting of some of their erotic experiences, and, in one case, an interview with Luc, a person hired to answer such calls. In the latter instance, Luc was filmed in the course of actual calls and some of the language he used was very explicit. The Panel emphasized that it was not the fact that Luc worked for a homosexual telephone sex line that was the issue, since it is the position of the CBSC that gays and lesbians are full participants in Canadian life. Any program that involves sexuality, whether homsexual or heterosexual, will, or will not, be acceptable based on its graphic content and the appropriateness of the hour at which it is broadcast.

In the case of the 4:00 pm broadcast of Love on the Line, the coarse language uttered by various people interviewed and the explicit sexual descriptions of the phone sex worker were inappropriate for broadcast before 9:00 pm. Bravo! was thus in breach of the scheduling provision of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters' (CAB) Voluntary Code Regarding Violence in Television Programming which requires that programming containing scenes intended for exclusively adult audiences not be aired before 9:00 pm.

Canada's private broadcasters have themselves created industry standards in the form of Codes on ethics, gender portrayal and television violence by which they expect the members of their profession will abide. In 1990, 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 practices first created by the Radio Television News Directors Association of Canada (RTNDA) in 1970. More than 500 radio and 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