Sexually Explicit Discussions Require Evening Time Slot, Says Canadian Broadcast Standards Council

Ottawa, August 29, 2007 – The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning an episode of MTV Canada’s talk/magazine program MTV Live.  The topic of a February episode was “self love”, that is, masturbation.  The CBSC’s National Specialty Services Panel concluded that airing the episode at 7:30 am violated the scheduling provision of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ (CAB) Code of Ethics

The “Self Love” episode of MTV Live contained various segments dealing with that topic.  There was a sketch in which two comedians provided humorous “how to” tips, discussions with studio audience members about their thoughts and experiences, scenes filmed inside a sex shop where the shop owner talked about a masturbate-a-thon, as well as interviews with sex experts.  The episode did not contain any viewer advisories to warn viewers about the explicit content. 

A viewer complained about the time of day that this episode aired because young children are watching television in the morning.  The National Specialty Services Panel examined the complaint under Clause 10 (Television) of the CAB Code of Ethics which prohibits the broadcast of sexually explicit material outside the “Watershed” period of 9:00 pm to 6:00 am.  The Panel concluded that there was nothing problematic in the theme of the program, namely, masturbation, but that the extensive treatment of the subject in an early morning broadcast violated the Code. 

While the Panel considers that the subject of masturbation is hardly, by its nature, destined exclusively for adult audiences, it does readily acknowledge that most of the dialogue on the subject on the challenged program was utterly inappropriate for young children (under 12 years of age) and that a considerable portion of it was inappropriate for non-adults.  The episode did not, after all, just deal briefly or peripherally with the subject; it was a full hour that focussed on a wide range of inclusive masturbatory sub-themes.  These included a sex store with an array of sexual objects, such as whips and dildos, discussion of public masturbate-a-thons, vibrators, doctors’ use of masturbatory massagers on patients, at least one videotaped sketch implying an individual masturbating, and so on.  The Panel considers that the full, wall-to-wall nature of the coverage of the theme, punctuated by examples such as those just noted, amounted to a program that ought not to have been broadcast between 7:30 and 8:30 am.  In fact, the Panel considers that it should have been restricted to a post-9:00 pm time slot. 

The Panel also concluded that MTV Canada violated Clause 11 of the Code for failing to provide viewer advisories. 

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 600 radio stations, satellite radio services, 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