Graphic Violence & Very Coarse Language Can only Be Broadcast after 9:00 pm, Says Canadian Broadcast Standards Council

Ottawa, June 2, 2010 – The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released two decisions concerning programs broadcast on Quebec television station V (when it was still known as TQS).

The first decision dealt with the 8:00 pm broadcasts of two episodes of Les experts: Manhattan, which is the French dubbed version of the English-language crime drama series CSI: New York.  The CBSC concluded that the episodes contained scenes of graphic violence that should, therefore, have only been aired after the “Watershed” hour of 9:00 pm and should have been accompanied by viewer advisories and a 16+ rating.

The second decision dealt with the 8:30 pm broadcast of a reality program called Scrap Metal that followed the host and his colleagues as they restored old vehicles.  The CBSC concluded that the episode contained extremely coarse language that should only have been broadcast after 9:00 pm, and that this program also required viewer advisories and a classification rating.

The two episodes of Les experts: Manhattan included scenes that showed, for example, a woman being stabbed in the stomach with a sharp hook, a man being struck in the mouth with the muzzle of a rifle, and a woman being pushed onto the hose of a liquid nitrogen tank with the result that the hose penetrated her chest and killed her.  There were also close-ups of dead bodies and wounds as the investigators examined the bodies and performed autopsies.  A viewer complained that the previous season of Les experts had been rated 13+, but TQS had lowered the rating to 8+ even though the violent content remained at the same level.

The CBSC’s Quebec Regional Panel agreed, finding that the program contained “graphic, explicit, realistic and vivid detail” in the violent scenes, which meant that they were intended exclusively for adult audiences.  The program was thus relegated to a post-9:00 pm time slot, as required by Article 3.1.1 of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ (CAB) Violence Code.  It was also missing viewer advisories, as required by Article 5 of the Violence Code.  The Panel also stated that 16+ was the appropriate rating level and so found a breach of Article 4 of the Violence Code for the 8+ rating provided by TQS.

Scrap Metal contained numerous instances of coarse language in both English and French, such as the f-word, “tabarnac’”, “chrisse” and “calice”.  Based on previous CBSC decisions, the Panel concluded that these words constituted language intended exclusively for adult audiences and found TQS in violation of Clause 10 of the CAB Code of Ethics for scheduling the episode before 9:00 pm.  The Panel concluded that the absence of viewer advisories coming out of every commercial break (though there was one at the very beginning) violated Clause 11 of that Code.  It also found that the program should have carried a classification icon at the beginning and that 16+ would have been the appropriate level.

In addition to the coarse language, lack of viewer advisories, and use of an inappropriate rating, the complainant also suggested that the program demonstrated a disrespectful attitude towards women.  The car repairmen attending a Supercross event ogled the women who were working there or spectating.  Upon seeing one attractive woman, the host commented, in English, “smells like sweet pussy.”  The Panel acknowledged “the crudeness and poor taste of [the host] and the bikers.  It finds nothing redeeming in that aspect of the program,” but it did not conclude that the behaviour reached “the levels needed to breach the degradation or exploitation provisions of Articles 7 and 8 of the CAB Equitable Portrayal Code.”

Canada’s private broadcasters have themselves created industry standards in the form of Codes on ethics, equitable portrayal, television violence and journalistic independence 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 and the pay television Codes, as well as the Code dealing with journalistic ethics created by the RTNDA – Association of Electronic Journalists in 1970.  More than 735 radio stations, satellite radio services, television stations and specialty services from across Canada are members of the Council.

– 30 –

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