May 1998

Ottawa, May 30, 1998 — The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning the broadcast on CKVU-TV (UTV – Vancouver) of an episode of Nightstand entitled “A Green Dick”.

Nightstand, which airs at midnight, follows the format of a talk show, but differs significantly from the typical talk show in that it is essentially a parody of the genre and the guests are all actors. Its February 20, 1997 broadcast included a segment in which the “guests” told the “host” of the show the contrived story of the death of a woman, one of the guests' wife, during a bear attack. According to the tall tale, the woman was tied to a tree nude and covered with honey when the bear “attacked”. In this tall tale, the bear proceeded to lick all the honey off the woman and to have sex with her. The story led to the conclusion that the bear “had your wife and ate her too. Sir, that is one grisly story.”

Following a complaint from a viewer, the Council considered the program in light of the provisions of the Sex Role Portrayal Code. In the Council's view, the segment did not exploit women. The Council found that the sketch in question was far-fetched and clearly unrealistic, thereby giving rise to a different level of expectation on the part of the listener or viewer. It was an extended pun, styled in some respects along the lines of what used to be called “shaggy dog” stories. The humour may have been childish and somewhat sexual or off-colour but it was no more exploitative of the one sex than of the other.

In making its determination, the Council reiterated that it will not measure questions of taste in terms of the Codes it administers; such questions are to be left for the resolution of the audience by means of the on/off switch. The Council also noted that the program was aired in a very late time slot, when there was no risk that persons other than adults would be watching.

The CBSC is the self-regulatory body created by private broadcasters to respond to complaints and administer industry standards on ethics, journalistic practices, gender portrayal and television violence. Nearly 400 radio and television stations and specialty services from across Canada are members of the Council.

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Ottawa, May 26, 1998 — The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning the broadcast on the CTV network of the movie of the week entitled Poltergeist – The Legacy.

The movie, which served as a pilot for a new series slated to form part of CTV's fall programming, aired at 9 p.m. on September 13, 1996. Poltergeist – The Legacy told the story of the release of evil incarnate into the world of the living and the fight of one small team of humans against this evil force. While the movie contained many scenes with violent elements, the Council was of the view that the violence contained in this program was neither gratuitous nor glamorized.

The Council found, however, that the program contained scenes of violence intended for adult audiences, thus triggering the scheduling and advisory provisions of the Violence Code. CTV met the scheduling requirements by airing the movie at 9 p.m., after the watershed hour, and also met the first part of the requirement with respect to viewer advisories by airing an advisory at the beginning of the movie. The Council found, however, that CTV had breached the second part of the requirement with respect to viewer advisories by failing to provide other advisories in the first hour of the program. While the Council noted that there was a full complement of advisories during the second hour of the program and that the majority of the violent scenes were concentrated in that second hour, the Council was of the view that the wording of the advisory requirement provided in the Violence Code was unequivocal. The Council further stated that the repetition of viewer advisories during the course of the first hour serves as a second, third and fourth chance for viewers to receive important information concerning the program they are considering watching, even where they may tune in late. The Council was of the view that CTV's approach to viewer advisories in this case, i.e. other than the initial advisory, providing them only in the second hour of the program, was insufficient for viewers and in breach of the spirit and wording of the Violence Code.

The CBSC is the self-regulatory body created by private broadcasters to respond to complaints and administer industry standards on ethics, journalistic practices, gender portrayal and television violence. Nearly 400 radio and television stations and specialty services from across Canada are members of the Council.

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Ottawa, May 19, 1998 — The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning the broadcast on the Global Television Network of a program produced and sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund entitled Before It's Too Late.

This program, which sought to increase public awareness regarding the endangerment of various animal species and solicited funds to further the cause of wildlife preservation, was comprised of many segments which told stories of species being hunted by poachers to near extinction, of species having to consistently re-locate due to ever-increasing human encroachment on wildlife areas and of species being poisoned by pesticides and other contaminants in the environment. Some of these segments included scenes depicting carcasses of bears, tigers, birds, turtles, rhinoceroses and whales. In two of them, a bear and a tiger were seen being shot. The complainant had stated that her son had been most horrified by these grotesque scenes.

The Council found that the program did not breach any of the provisions of the Violence Code, underscoring that the Code does not purport to make television so sanitized that all depictions of violence disappear from the medium. Only gratuitous violence or scenes glamourizing or promoting violence are strictly prohibited by the Code. Other scenes of violence may require viewer advisories or scheduling in post-watershed hours. In the Council's view, Before It's Too Late did not contain any prohibited scenes of violence, nor did it contain any scenes triggering the advisory or scheduling provisions of the Code.

With respect to the scheduling of Before It's Too Late, the Council noted that the program was broadcast at 9 am on a weekday morning during a school holiday. While making no assumption of broadcaster carelessness in this instance, the Council reminded broadcasters of the desirability to be sensitive to the scheduling of programs during school holidays.

The CBSC is the self-regulatory body created by private broadcasters to respond to complaints and administer industry standards on ethics, journalistic practices, gender portrayal and television violence. Nearly 400 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