No Gratuitous Violence In “Silence Of The Lambs” Telecast, Says Broadcast Standards Council (disponible en anglais seulement)

Ottawa, August 25, 1995 – The Ontario Regional Council of the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning violence in “Silence of the Lambs”, aired on CITY-TV on February 19, 1995.

A viewer representing an association complained that the film dealt with “killing and skinning of women” and that it had no place on the public airwaves. Adding that the film had been given a “restricted” rating for theatrical exhibition in Ontario, the viewer stated that even the viewer advisory provided by CITY-TV was insufficient. CITY-TV, however, noted that the film had been significantly edited for airing on Canadian television – considerably more so than the version aired the same evening by U.S. broadcaster CBS. The only other complaints it had received, CITY-TV remarked, had taken exception to the excessive editing of the film.

The CBSC viewed the edited version of the film that had aired on CITY-TV. In its unanimous decision, the Council affirmed that the film, which dealt in fact with the sociology of serial killers, contained much tension and suspense, with the constant threat of imminent violence. The violence which remained in the television version of the film was integral to the development of plot and character and was perpetrated by unattractive, sociopathic killers – in no way glamourizing violence. Contrary to the viewer’s assertion, the reference to the “restricted” theatrical rating was not necessary, since the CITY-TV version of the film was not the film which was released in theatres; indeed, a film with a restricted rating for theatrical exhibition would not be aired, in its original form, on conventional television. Finally, because the film had been scheduled to air at 9 p.m. and because CITY-TV had included oral and written viewer advisories at the start of the film and at every commercial break, the Regional Council agreed that the station had gone beyond what was necessary in the industry’s Violence Code to ensure that all viewers could make appropriate viewing choices. Thus, the Council decided that CITY-TV had not breached this industry Code.

The Ontario Regional Council members represent the general public and the broadcasting industry. Marianne Barrie, who chairs the Regional Council, represents the public, while Al MacKay, the Vice-Chair, represents broadcasters. Other public members involved in the decision were Taanta Gupta and Robert Stanbury, while the other broadcaster representative was Paul Fockler.

The CBSC is the organization responsible for self-regulation of Canada’s private sector television and radio stations. In addition to administering the Voluntary Code Regarding Violence in Television Programming, the CBSC administers a Code of Ethics, a Sex-Role Portrayal Code and a Code of (Journalistic) Ethics.

– 30 –

For more information, please contact Ronald I. Cohen, the National Chair of the CBSC, at (###) ###-####.