Broadcast Standards Council Decision On Adult Video Store Commercial

Ottawa, May 9, 1997 -- The Ontario Regional Council of the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning a commercial for an adult video store, aired on CITY-TV.

The decision relates to a complaint about a commercial for Adults Only Video aired in early March 1995. In the commercial, the video component consisted solely of the owner of the stores seated on a stool in one of his shops making a statement to the effect that Canadians had a right to make an entertainment choice, which included the right to choose to visit his stores. The complainant, a representative of an anti-pornography group, informed the CBSC that the owner was “up on charges of obscenity” and questioned the station’s ethics in selling him airtime to advertise his stores. CITY-TV replied, however, that the commercials aired later in the evening (after 8:00 p.m.), that they included no provocative footage or descriptions of specific titles and that these precautions demonstrated that CITY-TV had taken audience sensitivities into account in airing the commercials. The complainant was unsatisfied with CITY-TV’s response and asked the CBSC Ontario Regional Council to review her complaint.

While not mandated to deal with all advertising complaints, the CBSC does review complaints concerning local advertising aired by member stations. The industry’s Code of Ethics, administered by the CBSC, also contains a clause on advertising. Therefore, the Regional Council considered that the matter could reasonably be reviewed by the CBSC. The Council felt that the commercial could not be judged to be in poor taste, nor was it unfair. In fact, the Council recognized that the complainant was fundamentally concerned that the adult video stores should not be in operation. This latter issue is not, however, a matter for the CBSC to determine. Thus, in its decision (attached), the Council decided that CITY-TV did not breach the industry’s Code of Ethics. The Code stipulates that broadcasters should ensure that the advertisements they are “shall be in good taste, simple, truthful and believable, and shall not offend what is generally accepted as the prevailing standard of good taste.” The Council also noted that CITY-TV had responded adequately to the complainant’s concerns.

Composed of women and men from the broadcasting industry and the general public, the CBSC Ontario Regional Council is chaired by Al MacKay, a broadcasting industry representative. Robert Stanbury, a representative of the public, is the Vice-Chair. Nearly 400 stations from across Canada are members of the Council and adhere to its Codes.

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This and other decisions of the CBSC are available via Internet at For more information, please contact Ronald I. Cohen, CBSC National Chair, at (###) ###-####.