Promo Containing Sexual Scenes Inappropriate for Broadcast Before 9:00 pm, Regardless of Time Zone, Says Canadian Broadcast Standards Council

Ottawa, December 18, 2002 – The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning a promotional spot broadcast on Space: TheImaginationStation. The CBSC National Specialty Services Panel determined that the promo contained sexual scenes intended exclusively for adult audiences and was thus not appropriate for broadcast before the Watershed hour of 9:00 pm anywhere in the country.

The specialty service Space broadcast a promo for an affiliated digital specialty service called Drive-In Classics, which included video clips from the 1968 movie Vixen by Russ Meyer depicting sexual activity between the film's female protagonist and various individuals, and referring to incest. The promo was broadcast at approximately 11:05 pm Eastern time, but the complaint came from a viewer in British Columbia who saw the promo at 8:05 pm Pacific time.

The National Specialty Services Panel examined the complaint under Article 3.2 of the CAB Voluntary Code on Violence in Television Programming which requires that promotional material containing scenes intended for adult audiences not be telecast before 9:00 pm. The Panel noted that, although the Code provides that scheduling of programming is assessed on the basis of the time zone in which the signal originates, this same exception does not apply to either promotional material or advertising. The Panel agreed with the complainant that the content of this particular promo was clearly adult fare and should not have aired before 9:00 pm in any time zone. The Panel stated:

Apart from anything else, such short spots do not, indeed, cannot by their nature benefit from the informational protections afforded by classification icons and viewer advisories. Broadcasters must, therefore, […] ensure that promotional spots and advertising conform to the Watershed requirements of the private broadcaster codes, as a function of the hour at which they will be received in any time zone in the country, without regard to the hour at which they are broadcast in the time zone of origin.

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 520 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