Cleaver-Wielding Butcher In Commercial Considered Not Violent By Broadcast Standards Council (disponible en anglais seulement)

Ottawa, June 12, 1997 -- The Ontario Regional Council of the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) released its decision today concerning a commercial for Maple Leaf Meats aired on CTV.

The decision concerns a commercial aired in April 1996, depicting a butcher waving a meat cleaver over a butcher’s block. The butcher compared his meat to that packaged by Maple Leaf Meats. His script closed with the butcher swinging his cleaver into the block and declaring, “you can argue with me, but I don’t think you should.” A CTV viewer wrote to complain about the commercial. In her view, the commercial contained a threat which made her “sick just watching it”. She expressed concern about the children that might have watched the commercial and been negatively affected by it. CTV’s President, and the Vice-President of Corporate Communications and Director of Programming each replied to the viewer. The President wrote that the commercial contained no hint of threat and that the butcher’s tone had been good-natured and convivial. The Vice-President of Corporate Communications and Director of Programming reiterated the President’s position. She added that in CTV’s view, the commercial complied with the industry’s code concerning television violence and in fact, had been cleared by an independent body as suitable for television broadcast. The viewer was unsatisfied with CTV’s replies and asked the CBSC to consider her complaint.

In its decision (attached), the Ontario Regional Council reaffirmed its jurisdiction over certain types of advertising complaints, such as those that fall within the scope of the industry’s Voluntary Code Regarding Violence in Television Programming. Referring to the Code, which prohibits gratuitous violence and required broadcasters to schedule programs containing “scenes of violence intended for adult audiences” after 9 p.m., the Regional Council decided that, while there was an implied “threat” in the commercial, it was clearly not serious and could not be considered by anyone to be menacing. Nor was there any scene or depiction of violence in the commercial. As a result, in the Council’s opinion, CTV did not breach the industry’s code on television violence.

In addition to administering the Violence Code, the CBSC administers broadcasting industry codes on ethics, gender portrayal, and journalistic ethics.

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All CBSC decisions, Codes and related documentation are available on the World Wide Web at www.cbsc.ca.