Le dôme is a science fiction series. It is the dubbed version of the American series Under the Dome, based on a novel of the same name by Stephen King.
The story takes place in the fictional town of Chester’s Mill. One day, an impenetrable, invisible dome of unknown substance appears and covers the entire town. No one can leave or enter, so the inhabitants must survive without contact with the outside world.
Over the course of the series, it is revealed that the dome gets its power from a magical black egg which produces its effect due to a special connection that certain inhabitants have with the dome. The majority of residents end up being infected with an extraterrestrial virus. A woman arrives and declares herself the queen of this group of extraterrestrials, called “The Kinship”. Some of town’s citizens who were not infected form a resistance.
The challenged episode was the last in the series and was entitled “Le Crépuscule du dôme” (“The Enemy Within” in English). It contained scenes of violence. In the introduction, which summarized what had happened in previous episodes, one sees, among other things, a cow sliced in two by the dome, explosions, a man stabbing another in the chest with a knife, and a woman throwing another against the wall of the dome causing the latter to dissolve.
In another scene, two men are fighting to be the queen’s “alpha” companion. They punch and kick each other, then the younger of the two grabs a metal pipe and plunges it into the other man’s back so that it pierces through his abdomen. The man falls to the ground and dies, with blood coming out of his mouth and abdomen.
Later in the program, a man kills another by repeatedly hitting him in the head with a metal ball. The scene showed a close-up of the victim’s bloody face. There was also a scene in which a father and his adult son are fighting because the son has allied himself with the queen. The son tries to strangle his father, but the father manages to pull out his knife and, after a difficult fight, ends up stabbing his son in the chest.
Finally, after one of the young members of the resistance sacrifices himself, the dome disappears in a big purple explosion. Soldiers arrive and force all of the Chester’s Mill inhabitants to board trucks heading towards an unknown destination. The viewer later learns that all of the infected people are being held in hermetically-sealed cells on a military base.
TVA broadcast the episode on March 29, 2016 at 8:00 pm. The broadcaster did not air any viewer advisories, but did broadcast a 13+ icon at the beginning of the program and coming out of every commercial break for 15 seconds. (More detailed descriptions of the relevant scenes can be found in Appendix A.)
The CBSC received a complaint from a viewer on March 29. He questioned whether such violence was permitted before 9:00 pm. TVA responded to the complainant on May 31. In the network’s opinion, [translation] “the scenes of violence were not sufficiently intense as to be intended for adults only and therefore broadcast only after 9:00 pm”, but it did recognize that viewer advisories should have been broadcast. TVA cited previous CBSC decisions to support its choice of time slot and 13+ classification. The complainant filed his Ruling Request on June 12, indicating that he did not agree with TVA. (The full text of all correspondence can be found in Appendix B, available in French only.)
The French-Language Panel examined the complaint under the following provisions of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ (CAB) Violence Code:
CAB Violence Code, Article 3.0 — Scheduling
3.1.1 Programming which contains scenes of violence intended for adult audiences shall not be telecast before the late evening viewing period, defined as 9 pm to 6 am.
CAB Violence Code, Article 4.0 – Classification
Classifications for French-Language Broadcasters
The program may be viewed, purchased or rented only by persons 13 years of age or older. Children under 13 may be admitted only if accompanied by an adult.
The Régie classifies in this category programs that require a certain level of judgement. These programs contain passages or sequences that may offend the sensibilities of younger viewers.
Teenage viewers are more aware of the fact that a program is not reality and are therefore better psychologically prepared to follow more complex or dramatic programs. Violence, eroticism, coarse language or horror may be more developed and may constitute a dominant characteristic of the program. However, it is important that the program allow viewers to discern the meaning that should be attributed to the various characters and their actions, because teenagers are not necessarily prepared to face everything. This is why certain themes (drugs, suicide, troubling situations, etc.) and their treatment are carefully examined.
The program may be viewed, purchased or rented only by persons 16 years of age or older.
At the age of 16, young people enter a transition period between the end of adolescence and the beginning adulthood. They are more independent, and have usually attained a certain level of psychological maturity.
Programs with this rating present troubling themes, situations or behaviours and adopt a more direct point of view about things. They may therefore contain scenes where violence, horror and sexuality are more graphic.
The program may be viewed, purchased or rented only by persons 18 years of age or older.
Programs reserved for adults most often deal primarily with the representation of explicit sexual encounters. They may also be extremely violent, showing scenes of hyperrealistic cruelty, torture and horror.
CAB Violence Code, Article 5.0 – Viewer Advisories
5.1 To assist consumers in making their viewing choices, broadcasters shall provide a viewer advisory, at the beginning of, and during the first hour of programming telecast in late evening hours which contains scenes of violence intended for adult audiences.
5.2 Broadcasters shall provide a viewer advisory at the beginning of, and during programming telecast outside of late evening hours, which contains scenes of violence not suitable for children.
The Panel Adjudicators read all of the correspondence and viewed the broadcast in question. The Panel unanimously concludes that TVA breached Article 5.0 of the CAB Violence Code with respect to viewer advisories and that TVA did not breach Article 4.0 for the 13+ classification. The majority of the Panel finds a breach of Article 3.0 with respect to the scheduling of the program, but three adjudicators disagree.
Scheduling of Violent Content
The Panel Adjudicators had a lengthy discussion regarding whether the challenged program was intended for an adult audience and therefore should only be broadcast after the Watershed hour.
The majority of adjudicators conclude that, due to the graphic nature and large number of violent scenes in the program, it is intended exclusively for an adult audience, and should have been broadcast after 9:00 pm, during the Watershed period.
The three other Panel Adjudicators conclude, on the contrary, that the program in question was not intended exclusively for an adult audience. While it did contain scenes of violence, these were not so intense that they reached a level of cruelty or horror that would push them into the category of programs reserved solely for adults. The three Adjudicators point out that the CBSC should not act as a censor and should instead base its conclusions on the facts presented.
All of the Panel Adjudicators, as well as the broadcaster, agree that the broadcast should have been preceded by appropriate viewer advisories. These advisories should have been broadcast before the beginning of the program and coming out of each commercial break. Advisories would have been necessary even if TVA had broadcast the episode after 9:00 pm, as the majority of the Panel concluded it should have. Since TVA broadcast this episode “intended exclusively for adults” before 9:00 pm, viewer advisories were all the more necessary. Even the three Panel Adjudicators who found the 8:00 pm broadcast acceptable consider that advisories were necessary at that hour.
While the classification by the Régie du cinéma indicates the intended audience of a film in a movie theatre, it is not the Régie who determines the classifications for television programs: “That is solely the responsibility of the broadcasters themselves, using the same classification categories and descriptors employed by the Régie.”
The Panel Adjudicators, therefore, considered whether the 13+ rating assigned by the broadcaster was appropriate.
They conclude that the violent scenes, taken in isolation, match the characteristics of the 13+ description of the CAB Violence Code which states that “Violence […] may be more developed and may constitute a dominant characteristic of the program.” The majority of the Panel Adjudicators, however, emphasize that it is the accumulation of violent scenes that render this program intended for adults audiences and thus a post-9:00 pm broadcast.
The three Panel Adjudicators who would have allowed the broadcast outside of the Watershed period with appropriate viewer advisories also agree with the 13+ classification.
In all CBSC decisions, the Panels assess the broadcaster’s response to the complainant. The broadcaster need not agree with the complainant’s position, but it must respond in a courteous, thoughtful and thorough manner. In this case, TVA provided a good response to the complainant. The broadcaster acknowledged its error in omitting appropriate viewer advisories and provided its point of view with respect to the scheduling and the classification. It even quoted previous CBSC decisions to support its viewpoint. The Panel wishes to point out that broadcasters are required to respond to complainants within the framework of the CBSC complaints-resolution process; they are, however, entitled to respond however and by whomever they deem appropriate. The broadcaster fulfilled its obligations of responsiveness and, subject to the announcement of this decision, nothing further is required in this regard in this instance.
Announcement of the Decision
TVA is required to: 1) announce the decision, in the following terms, once during prime time within three days following the release of this decision and once more within seven days following the release of this decision during the time period in which Le dôme was broadcast, but not on the same day as the first mandated announcement; 2) within the fourteen days following the broadcasts of the announcements, to provide written confirmation of the airing of the statement to the complainant who filed the Ruling Request; and 3) at that time, to provide the CBSC with a copy of that written confirmation and with air check copies of the broadcasts of the two announcements which must be made by TVA.
The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council has found that TVA breached Articles 3 and 5 of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ Violence Code in its broadcast of an episode of Le dôme on March 29, 2016. The episode contained scenes of violence intended for adult audiences and should not have been broadcast before 9:00 pm. TVA also failed to broadcast viewer advisories alerting to the violent content.
This decision is a public document upon its release by the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council.
 CIHF-TV (MITV) re an episode of The X-Files (CBSC Decision 96/97-0043, February 14, 1997); CTV re Poltergeist – The Legacy (CBSC Decision 96/97-0017 & 96/97-0030, May 8, 1997); CHMI-TV re the movie Double Team (CBSC Decision 99/00-0372, May 5, 2000); Showcase Television re the movie Destiny to Order (CBSC Decision 00/01-0715, January 16, 2002); TQS re two episodes of Les experts: Manhattan (CSI: New York) (CBSC Decision 08/09-0880, August 11, 2009)
 VRAK.TV re Charmed (“Dead Man Dating”) (CBSC Decision 02/03-0365, July 17, 2003); Séries+ re CSI: Miami (CBSC Decision 09/10-1730, January 25, 2011); TVA re Les jeunes loups (CBSC Decision 13/14-0808, September 10, 2014)
 CIHF-TV (MITV) re an episode of The X-Files (CBSC Decision 96/97-0043, February 14, 1997); TQS re the movie L’inconnu (Never Talk to Strangers) (CBSC Decision 98/99-0176, June 23, 1999); VRAK.TV re Charmed (“Dead Man Dating”) (CBSC Decision 02/03-0365, July 17, 2003); TQS re the movie Film de peur (CBSC Decision 02/03-0940, April 22, 2004); TQS re two episodes of Les experts: Manhattan (CSI: New York) (CBSC Decision 08/09-0880, August 11, 2009); Séries+ re CSI: Miami (CBSC Decision 09/10-1730, January 25, 2011)
 TQS re two episodes of Les experts: Manhattan (CSI: New York) (CBSC Decision 08/09-0880, August 11, 2009); see also TQS re the movie L’Affaire Thomas Crown (The Thomas Crown Affair) (CBSC Decision 01/02-0622, December 20, 2002)
 VRAK.TV re Charmed (“Dead Man Dating”) (CBSC Decision 02/03-0365, July 17, 2003); Séries+ re CSI: Miami (CBSC Decision 09/10-1730, January 25, 2011); TVA re Les jeunes loups (CBSC Decision 13/14-0808, September 10, 2014)
The challenged episode is entitled “La Crépuscule du dôme” (“The Enemy Within” in English). TVA broadcast it on March 29, 2016 at 8:00 pm. TVA did not broadcast any viewer advisory, but it did broadcast a 13+ icon at the beginning of the program and coming out of each commercial break for 15 seconds.
The main characters are:
Barbie – real name Dale Barbara. He is a member of the resistance. He is dating Julia. He had a relationship with a woman in an alternate reality and that woman gave birth to a baby who was supposed to become the new queen.
Julia Shumway – A journalist who is a member of the resistance. She is dating Barbie.
Big Jim – real name James Rennie. He was a city councillor before the dome appeared and, following its appearance, he tried to govern the town in a dictatorial way. He is a member of the resistance. Father to Junior.
Junior – A young man whose real name is James Rennie Jr. Son of Big Jim. He is infected by the Kinship and was the “alpha” partner of the first queen Christine.
Dawn – The new queen of the Kinship. She is the daughter of Barbie and a woman with whom he had a relationship in an alternate reality. When she was born, the first queen, Christine, kidnapped her and put her in a cocoon. Dawn reached maturity much faster than normal and when she emerged from the cocoon she killed Christine to become the new queen.
Sam – He is infected. He replaced Junior as the queen’s “alpha” partner when Dawn replaced Christine; Junior is not happy about it.
Joe – A young man who is a member of the resistance. He has special powers in relation to the dome, being one of the “Hands” that sustains it. He is dating Norrie. He experiments with the effect of soundwaves on the dome.
Norrie – A young woman who is a member of the resistance. Like her boyfriend Joe, she has special powers in relation to the dome, as she is also one of the “Hands”.
Lily and Hunter – Two young adults who are members of the resistance.
The introduction to the episode summarizes what has happened in previous episodes. Scenes include:
- a cow is sliced in two by the dome;
- an airplane explodes when it crashes into the dome;
- a truck crashes into the dome;
- someone is thrown against a wall by a glowing ball;
- an explosion and a lightning bolt while Barbie and the others try to do something with the wood in a house;
- Big Jim kills someone by stabbing him in the chest;
- Junior hits someone in the face;
- a purple explosion;
- Junior with a firearm;
- Barbie throws Christine against a wall on which there is a glowing pinkish-purple cocoon. The cocoon explodes and shadowy figure escapes from it;
- Christine cries while Barbie holds a gun to her chin. She tells him that the thing that escaped from the cocoon is his baby;
- Dawn grabs Christine by the head and pulls her towards the wall of the dome. Dawn throws Christine against the dome wall and Christine dissolves.
The following are descriptions of other scenes from the episode which raised issues of violence:
Big Jim helps Joe and Norrie assemble a transmitter. All of a sudden, they are surrounded by people with firearms.
Barbie and Julia are in the forest burying a body covered in burlap. They are also surrounded by people with firearms. Barbie and Julia each raise a gun and fire at the people as they run away. Julia runs out of bullets. Sam and Dawn prevent them from escaping.
Junior is lying on the ground. Blood is coming out of the back of his head. He winces in pain as he touches his hand to the wound. He looks at the blood on his hand, gets up and gazes at the fog in the distance.
Dawn orders members of the Kinship and Barbie to carry amethyst crystals to a spot in the forest. The crystals are large and heavy, so they are tired. A pair of Kinship members drops a crystal, angering Dawn. Dawn grabs a gun from a guard and shoots point blank at the man who dropped the crystal. She points the gun at Barbie. She threatens him, saying that she knows that he too is a murderer.
Sam encounters Junior. They argue. Junior accuses Sam of taking his place as the queen’s “alpha”. Sam grabs Junior by the head, calling Junior inept and unstable. Junior throws Sam against a concrete pillar. They punch and kick each other. Sam falls to the ground and throws sand in Junior’s face. Sam gets up, pushes Junior against the pillar and punches him in the stomach and face. Junior falls to the ground. Sam turns and walks away from Junior. Junior grabs a metal pipe and stabs it into Sam’s back. Blood comes out of Sam’s mouth and the viewer sees that the pipe has pierced through Sam’s back to his abdomen. Sam holds the pipe with blood coming out of his abdomen, falls to the ground and dies. His hands and torso are covered in blood.
Dawn had put Julia and Big Jim in prison, but they escaped. They are in a basement where they are gathering weapons and other provisions. The man who was their prison guard, Kyle, finds them in the basement. He points a gun at them. Kyle says he will take them back to city hall and kill Jim’s dog. Big Jim tells Kyle he used to play baseball with Kyle’s father. Big Jim shows Kyle the trophy they won, a gold ball. Jim throws the ball to Kyle. Instinctively, Kyle drops his gun to catch the ball. Jim tackles Kyle and the two fall to the ground. Jim takes the ball and uses it to repeatedly hit Kyle in the head and face in a violent attack. After multiple hits, Julia tells Big Jim to stop because Kyle is dead. There is a close-up of Kyle’s bloody face.
Dawn has ordered that seven amethyst rocks be arranged in a circle. She whistles at each of the rocks and each rock emits a high-pitched noise. She explains that she would have needed the egg to complete the cycle of the dome, but without the egg (which has been lost), she needs Norrie to produce the eighth musical note that will destroy the dome.
Big Jim and Julia are hiding in the forest near the clearing where Dawn and the group are. Jim is holding a rifle and has Dawn in the viewfinder.
Norrie asks what will happen to her if she produces the eighth note; Dawn responds that Norrie will become a member of the Kinship again. Joe objects to the idea, but Norrie follows Dawn towards the centre of the circle. Before Dawn and Norrie reach the centre, Joe runs to it. A purple electrical force appears between the amethyst crystals, preventing Norrie from reaching Joe.
Joe whistles and a bright light surrounds him. Trails of purple light rise up to the top of the dome. Norrie cries out when Joe disappears into the light. The dome’s electromagnetic force knocks everyone over and the dome itself disappears in a explosion of light.
Big Jim and Julia pick themselves up off the ground. Jim grabs his rifle and prepares to shoot at Dawn. Junior knocks Big Jim to the ground, yelling “I won’t let you do that”. Junior and Big Jim fight. Julia grabs her gun and points it at Junior. But she sees Dawn escaping so Big Jim yells at Julia to catch Dawn. Julia runs after Dawn and leaves Big Jim and Junior.
Norrie gets up and sees that Joe has truly disappeared. She cries out his name. A soldier wearing a gas mask grabs Norrie and handcuffs her. She is resisting and crying out Joe’s name. Other soldiers do the same thing with the other inhabitants.
Big Jim and Junior continue to fight. Junior manages to get on top of Jim and holds him by the throat. Big Jim takes a knife out of his pocket and plunges it into Junior’s side. Junior squeezes Jim’s throat tighter. Junior takes Jim’s hand to remove the knife from his side and turns Jim’s hand so the knife is pointed at Jim. Jim’s dog jumps on Junior’s back, causing him to fall over. Jim manages to get back the knife; Junior gets back on top of Jim. Jim stabs the knife into Junior’s chest. Junior makes gagging sounds and falls dead on top of Big Jim. Big Jim cries because he has just killed his own son.
Dawn has escaped into the tunnels under the cement factory. She walks onto a board that has been placed across a large hole. Barbie appears and tells her that he weakened the board. He approaches Dawn on the board. Barbie stomps his foot on the board. The board breaks in two and Dawn and Barbie fall into the hole. Julia arrives and sees Barbie climbing out of the hole because he was attached to a chain. There is no sign of Dawn.
Julia and Barbie happily exit the factory. They are surrounded by soldiers with firearms and gas masks. Big Jim is sitting against a tree, stroking the head of his dead son.
The citizens of Chester’s Mill are now under military guard. Barbie is in an interrogation room with an army general who is summarizing Barbie’s account of what happened. During the scene, there is a flashback showing what happened after the dome’s destruction and the army’s arrival. The army directed all of the citizens, handcuffed, onto trucks. When Norrie, who was no longer handcuffed, saw Julia, she struggled free from a soldier to go hug Julia, then the soldiers pulled her back. A soldier sprayed Barbie with a hose. There is also a close-up of Junior’s face as soldiers’ hands zip him into a body bag and then into a morgue drawer.
One year later: The viewer learns that Norrie has joined the army. She steals the access card of one of her superiors and gains access to a secure section of the military base. She sees Junior’s drawer in the morgue. She goes through another door and sees that all the inhabitants of Chester’s Mill are imprisoned in hermetically-sealed cells. She sees Joe and assures him that she will get him out of there.
Le CCNR a reçu la plainte suivante en date du 29 mars 2016 :
Bonjour, ce 29 mars à 20 h on présente à TVA, Le dôme. On y voit des personnes en tuer d’autres. N’est-il pas interdit de présenter de telles images de violence avant 21 heures?
La réponse du télédiffuseur
TVA a répondu au plaignant le 31 mai :
La présente fait suite à votre plainte du 29 mars 2016 portant sur la diffusion de l’émission Le Dôme le même jour à 20h00 sur le réseau TVA, et plus spécifiquement quant à la présence de scènes de violence dans une émission diffusée avant 21h.
Nous prenons bonne note des préoccupations exprimées dans votre plainte. Nous sommes désolés si la présence de scènes de violence dans cette émission vous a fait réagir. Ceci étant, après visionnement de l’épisode en question, nous sommes d’avis que ces scènes ne présentaient pas un degré d’intensité suffisant pour être réservées à un auditoire adulte et donc diffusées après 21h. Par contre, nous convenons avec vous que certaines de ces scènes pouvaient ne pas convenir aux jeunes enfants et qu’un avertissement en ce sens aurait dû être diffusé. Nous nous en excusons et nous verrons à prendre les moyens nécessaires pour que cette situation ne se reproduise pas.
En effet, notons d’une part que la série Le Dôme est classée comme convenant à un public « 13 ans et plus » par la Régie du cinéma du Québec, un classement qui reflète selon le réseau TVA la teneur de l’émission. Par conséquent, en raison de la présence de scènes de violence dans l’émission, cette dernière est déconseillée pour des enfants de moins de 13 ans. Par contre, pour les raisons ci-après explicitées, il ne s’agit pas d’une émission destinée exclusivement à un public adulte, et donc qui serait réservée pour la plage horaire après 21h.
Dans le cadre de l’analyse de votre plainte, nous avons visionné les scènes de violence en question à la lumière des articles 3 et 5 du Code de l’ACR concernant la violence et des paramètres établis par la jurisprudence du CCNR et résumés dans la décision Séries+ concernant CSI : Miami. Premièrement, dans la décision CTV concernant un épisode de Criminal Minds (« Omnivore ») du 25 juin 2009, le CCNR a établi les critères suivants pour analyser si une scène de violence est destinée exclusivement à un auditoire adulte :
« le Conseil considère que la présence combinée de la peur, du suspense, du sang et du détail explicite peut contribuer à caractériser comme ʺadulteʺ une programmation contenant des scènes de violence. (…) le Comité de l’Ontario a élargi la liste des critères de sorte que la présence et le niveau de scènes sanglantes, du caractère explicite, d’images graphiques ou horrifiantes, de la fréquence de la violence, de la peur, du suspense provoquant la terreur, et du réalisme auront tendance à mener à la conclusion qu’il s’agit de contenu destiné aux adultes. »
Ensuite, dans la décision TQS concernant deux épisodes de Les experts : Manhattan (CSI : New York) du 11 août 2009, le Comité a décrit la violence dans les épisodes en cause comme suit :
« Le Comité conclut que le niveau de scènes sanglantes et du caractère explicite des meurtres, y compris plonger un crochet dans l’estomac d’une femme et lancer son corps par une fenêtre d’où il atterrit sur le toit d’un autobus scolaire, plonger un boyau d’azote liquide dans la poitrine d’une femme, battre un homme à mort avec la crosse d’une carabine et tuer ensuite une femme d’une balle tirée par cette carabine lorsqu’elle est lancée d’un immeuble qualifiait à titre d’excessivement adulte. »
Or, et contrairement aux décisions précitées, notons que les scènes de violence faisant l’objet de votre plainte ont un degré d’intensité moindre. On dénote environ cinq scènes de violence qui durent entre 30 secondes à 1 minute sur une émission d’une heure. Bien que l’on voit par exemple un individu en train de poignarder ou de frapper à l’aide d’une roche, la victime n’est visible qu’à la fin de l’action. En général elle est déjà décédée et non pas agonisante. De plus, et bien qu’il y ait présence de sang dans ces scènes, on ne retrouve pas dans cet épisode un climat de peur ou de suspense provoquant la terreur et qui justifierait de le qualifier de destiné exclusivement à un auditoire adulte. Il s’agit du genre de violence qui peut être visionnée tant par un public adolescent qu’adulte.
Par conséquent, nous réitérons que bien que les scènes en question ont pu vous faire réagir, nous sommes d’avis que le contenu présenté dans le cadre de l’émission Le Dôme du 29 mars 2016 n’était pas de nature à être destiné exclusivement à un auditoire adulte. Par contre, et tel que précédemment mentionné, nous sommes d’avis qu’un avertissement aurait dû être diffusé. Nous veillerons à intervenir afin de corriger la situation.
Nous espérons le tout conforme et vous prions de recevoir, Monsieur [G.], l’expression de nos sentiments les meilleurs.
Le plaignant a réécrit au CCNR le 12 juin :
Je joins au présent courriel la réponse que m’a faite Mme [L.], directrice principale, chaînes et programmation, de Québecor média, concernant ma plainte.
Je suis loin d’être satisfait de cette réponse. De plus, dans sa réponse (particulièrement concernant le paragraphe sur la décision TQS du 11 août 2009), je considère que de me donner de tels détails est une façon d’ajouter délibérément l’injure à l’insulte.
Également, je considère comme de l’intimidation le fait que la réponse de [la directrice principale, chaînes et programmation] m’ait été transmise par Mme [T.], adjointe administrative de leur service juridique.
Merci de votre attention.