Ultimate Fighting Promo Was for Adults and Should Not Air before 9:00 pm, Says Canadian Broadcast Standards Council

Ottawa, August 19, 2008 – The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning a promotional spot for International Fight League (IFL) programming broadcast on Fox Sports World Canada, which aired around 7:00 pm.  It included repeated images of bloody faces and provocative voice-overs highlighting the fighting.  The CBSC concluded that the early evening broadcast contravened the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ (CAB) Violence Code.

The promo advertised IFL programming, which is known as “ultimate fighting” or “mixed martial arts”.  The sport involves punching, kicking and grappling moves, and the combatants wear little or no protective gear.  The spot included scenes from various matches showing bloodied participants, as well as voice-over comments, such as “I came to hurt somebody, hurt somebody” and “There’s no better feeling than crackin’ the guy in the chin, watching his crippled carcass go face down on the mat, wakin’ him up and showing him [… he] just got knocked out.”

The promo aired during a sports news program that focused on sports from the United Kingdom, such as soccer and cricket.  The CBSC received a complaint from a viewer who was not concerned about the airing of IFL programming, but was troubled by promos for it broadcast during other programs that young people watch.

 

The National Specialty Services Panel examined the complaint under Article 3.2 of the CAB Violence Code which states that “[p]romotional material which contains scenes of violence intended for adult audiences shall not be telecast before 9 pm.”  The Panel concluded that, even though some episodes of IFL may be susceptible of broadcast before 9:00 pm, this promo contained a concentration of adult material requiring it to be relegated to a post-9:00 pm time slot.  The Panel added that it

considers that a promotional spot can be so edited and constructed that the resulting promo constitutes adult material even if the program which it advertises does not.  […]  In the present case, the preliminary words set the tone for the corresponding visual images of bloodied faces.  Whether any of the images were isolated examples in previous episodes or not, the Panel is unaware.  In the 30-second spot, they have been aggregated to create a harsh physical and gory effect, one which, in the view of the Panel, is exclusively appropriate for adult audiences.  Consequently, the Panel concludes that the broadcast of the challenged promotional spot was in violation of Article 3.2 of the CAB Violence Code.

Canada’s private broadcasters have themselves created industry standards in the form of Codes on ethics, equitable portrayal, television violence and journalistic independence 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 ethics created by the RTNDA – Association of Electronic Journalists in 1970.  More than 690 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