Discussion about Sex Shops Was Acceptable Before 9:00 pm, Says Canadian Broadcast Standards Council

Ottawa, April 25, 2018 – The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning an episode of Code F broadcast on VRAK at 6:00 pm on May 26, 2017. The CBSC concluded that the sexual references in the program did not reach the level of explicitness that would have necessitated a post-9:00 pm scheduling. It did, however, conclude that VRAK breached its responsibility of participation in the CBSC by failing to provide an official logger copy of the program for CBSC review purposes.

Code F is a program where young women give their opinions on various topics. On the May 26, 2017 episode, one of the topics was sex shops. There were scenes of the inside of a sex shop and the women described their experiences with comments such as [translations] “Contrary to what you might think, in a sex shop it’s not just men in their mid-fifties with their hands down their pants in front of the salesgirl” and “The weirdest thing I’ve ever seen in a sex shop is a silicone forearm! [...] I like to think it’s, like, to give yourself a high-five when you’ve done something nice. But I know that that silicone forearm, it goes up your ass.”

The CBSC received a complaint from a viewer who felt that the discussions were inappropriate for broadcast before 9:00 pm, especially on a channel that targets children. In its response, VRAK explained that it had undergone a makeover and now targets female adolescents and young adults. It also stated that it aired an advisory and a 13+ icon, but it was unable to provide the CBSC with an official logger of the May 26 broadcast which would have contained that information. Instead, it provided a logger of a different episode to demonstrate what usually appears during the program.

The CBSC’s French-Language Panel examined the complaint under the television scheduling provision of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ (CAB) Code of Ethics which states that sexually explicit material intended for adult audiences shall only be broadcast between 9:00 pm and 6:00 am. The Panel concluded that VRAK did not breach that code article because the content was mild and vague rather than explicit. The Panel also concluded that the advisories and classification that VRAK claimed to have put on the episode were adequate, but emphasized that VRAK should pay particular attention to these viewer information tools since it has shifted its target audience from children to teens and young adults without changing its brand name and viewers might still believe that children are its target audience.

Broadcasters who participate in the CBSC are required to conserve and provide official logger copies of their programming, which contain exactly what went to air, including commercials, advisories and classification icons. The Panel found VRAK in breach for failing to provide a logger for the May 26, 2017 episode of Code F.

The CBSC was created in 1990 by Canada’s private broadcasters to administer the codes of standards that they established for their industry. The CBSC currently administers 5 codes which deal with ethics, equitable portrayal, violence, news and journalistic independence. Around 800 radio stations, satellite radio services, conventional and discretionary television services across Canada participate in the Council.

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All CBSC decisions, codes, and related information are available on the CBSC’s website at . For more information, please contact CBSC Chair, Sylvie Courtemanche, at scourtemanche@cbsc.ca or by telephone at 613-233-4607.