Real Sex Episode Did Not Breach Scheduling Requirements, Says Canadian Broadcast Standards Council

Ottawa, March 10, 2004 -The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning the broadcast of an episode of the documentary magazine series Real Sex by the specialty service Showcase Television, which was broadcast as the Vancouver feed of the Showcase signal at 4:45 am but was received in Winnipeg between 6:45-7:45 am on a Saturday morning.  A viewer complained that the content was too sexually explicit to be aired outside the Watershed hours in her time zone. Recognizing the exception to the customary Watershed provision for broadcasts which respect the 9:00 pm to 6:00 am requirement in the time zone in which the signal originates, the National Specialty Services Panel found no breach of Clause 10 (Scheduling) of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB) Code of Ethics. 

As the show’s title suggests, the series has a sexual theme and the episode of that date included explicit sexual content. The show had an 18+ classification icon at the beginning and was preceded by two viewer advisories in oral and visual form, one before and one following the opening credits. The broadcast also included viewer advisories coming out of each commercial break.

In considering the complaint, the Panel explained that the time of broadcast was the cable operator’s decision, not the broadcaster’s; it added the following:

It should also be noted that the fact that the physical signal originated in Toronto does not render the exception that “these guidelines shall be applied to the time zone in which the signal originates” inoperative.  When the codifiers laid down the principle of the time zone in which the signal originates, the Panel understands that they intended to say that the issue was where the signal was intended to appear to be originating.  While the Violence Code (where this principle was first introduced) was presented to the public in a different technological era, in October 1993, its intention was even then related to time and not to geography.  The Specialty Services Panel is applying it on this basis (whether with respect to the Violence Code exception or that in the CAB Code of Ethics) and expects that any other CBSC Panels called upon to deal with this issue will do so in the same way.

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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 For more information, please contact the CBSC National Chair, Mme Andrée Noël CBSC Executive Director, John MacNab