Promo for Horror Movie too Violent for Pre-9:00 pm Time Slot, Says Canadian Broadcast Standards Council

Ottawa, June 8, 2005 – The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning an advertisement for the feature horror film Seed of Chucky.  The commercial aired on Global Television Ontario (CIII-TV) on November 14, 2004 at 5:39 pm during an episode of The Simpsons.  The CBSC Ontario Regional Panel concluded that the advertisement contained scenes of violence intended exclusively for adult audiences and should not have been aired before the 9:00 pm Watershed hour. 

The commercial in question was for the most recent instalment in the series of “Chucky” movies (about an evil doll that comes to life and goes on murderous rampages).  The commercial, which began with scenes of Santa Claus walking across the snow and Christmas music, was accompanied by a voice-over that stated “This holiday season … he’s making a list … he’s checking it twice … and if you’re naughty … you’re gonna get sliced.”  This was followed by a succession of scary scenes from the movie, including close-ups of Chucky’s evil red eyes, people screaming and a bloody cleaver coming through a wall. 

A viewer complained to the CBSC that the commercial was inappropriate for broadcast during a late afternoon program that is designed for a family audience.  He made particular mention of the use of Santa Claus in the commercial, which would be disturbing to children.  The CBSC Ontario Regional Panel examined the complaint under Article 3.3 of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ (CAB) Voluntary Code regarding Violence in Television Programming, which states that “Advertisements which contain scenes of violence intended for adult audiences, such as those for theatrically presented feature films, shall not be telecast before 9 pm.”  The Panel concluded that this commercial did, in fact, contain scenes intended for adults only and the broadcast was thus in breach of the CAB Violence Code.  The Panel made the following comments: 

In the promo for Seed of Chucky, all of the elements anticipated in [a previous CBSC] decision were present, namely, “fear, suspense, gore and explicitness.”  It should be noted that, on the issue of explicitness, neither the knife nor the cleaver was seen penetrating any victim; however, the creators of the commercial achieved the sense that that had either happened or was on the verge of happening by the adroit use of a series of very quick cuts.  Moreover, the words “You’re gonna get sliced” reinforced the visual message of the promo.  The Panel considers that the commercial message was oriented toward an adult audience and ought to have been limited to a post-9:00 pm broadcast slot.  While the Panel recognizes that The Simpsons is not a made-for-children program, it is a series that is readily viewable by families and the positioning of this promotional message in that program was in breach of Article 3.3 of the CAB Violence Code.

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 550 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