CTV in Breach of Broadcast Standards for Having Failed to Provide Viewer Advisories throughout the First Hour of Its Movie of the Week

Ottawa, May 26, 1998 -- The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning the broadcast on the CTV network of the movie of the week entitled Poltergeist – The Legacy.

The movie, which served as a pilot for a new series slated to form part of CTV’s fall programming, aired at 9 p.m. on September 13, 1996. Poltergeist - The Legacy told the story of the release of evil incarnate into the world of the living and the fight of one small team of humans against this evil force. While the movie contained many scenes with violent elements, the Council was of the view that the violence contained in this program was neither gratuitous nor glamorized.

The Council found, however, that the program contained scenes of violence intended for adult audiences, thus triggering the scheduling and advisory provisions of the Violence Code. CTV met the scheduling requirements by airing the movie at 9 p.m., after the watershed hour, and also met the first part of the requirement with respect to viewer advisories by airing an advisory at the beginning of the movie. The Council found, however, that CTV had breached the second part of the requirement with respect to viewer advisories by failing to provide other advisories in the first hour of the program. While the Council noted that there was a full complement of advisories during the second hour of the program and that the majority of the violent scenes were concentrated in that second hour, the Council was of the view that the wording of the advisory requirement provided in the Violence Code was unequivocal. The Council further stated that the repetition of viewer advisories during the course of the first hour serves as a second, third and fourth chance for viewers to receive important information concerning the program they are considering watching, even where they may tune in late. The Council was of the view that CTV’s approach to viewer advisories in this case, i.e. other than the initial advisory, providing them only in the second hour of the program, was insufficient for viewers and in breach of the spirit and wording of the Violence Code.

The CBSC is the self-regulatory body created by private broadcasters to respond to complaints and administer industry standards on ethics, journalistic practices, gender portrayal and television violence. Nearly 400 radio and television stations 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 World Wide Web at www.cbsc.ca. For more information, please contact the National Chair of the CBSC, Ron Cohen, at (###) ###-####.