Ratings Classification for Canadian Pay Television, Pay-Per-View and Video-on-Demand

The ratings classification system used by Canadian broadcasters was developed by the Action Group on Violence on Television (AGVOT) during the mid-1990s. AGVOT proposed that pay and pay-per-view services use the ratings systems of the provincial film boards rather than the new system created by AGVOT for English-language conventional and specialty services. The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) approved that approach in June 1997.

The first Canadian pay television services were licensed by the CRTC in the early 1980s. Because the pay channels aired mostly feature films which had been originally created for and shown in movie theatres, the CRTC required the pay channels to display the rating that the provincial film board had assigned to the films. That rule was incorporated into a pay television Code of Standards and Practices in 1984. With the formation of the industry group AGVOT, the pay television industry revised and updated its Code of Standards and Practices and created a new separate Programming Code regarding Violence in 1994.

Those two Codes set out the requirements for pay, pay-per-view and video-on-demand with respect to rating programs:

The ratings indicate the intended audience age group for the program. Nevertheless, caregivers must make their own decisions about what is appropriate for the individual younger members of their households.

The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) took over the administration of the Industry Code of Programming Standards and Practices Governing Pay, Pay-Per-View and Video-on-Demand Services and the Pay Television and Pay-Per-View Programming Code regarding Violence from the CRTC in November 2008. If viewers feel that a program was incorrectly rated, they can file a complaint with the CBSC.

For each provincial film board’s ratings classification system and descriptions, click on the relevant link below.

Régie du cinéma du Québec
Ontario Film Authority
Alberta Film Ratings