Erotic Film Not Degrading to Women, but Ratings Icon Must Appear on Screen Longer,  Says Canadian Broadcast Standards Council

Ottawa, May 29, 2007 - The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning the broadcast of an Italian-dubbed erotic film called La Chiave Del Piacere (originally released as The Key to Sex) on the specialty service Telelatino. A viewer complained that the sexual content was exploitative towards women. The CBSC’s National Specialty Services Panel found no breach of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ (CAB) Sex-Role Portrayal Code, but it did find that the display of the 18+ classification icon for 6 seconds was too brief (the Code requires a full 15 seconds).

La Chiave Del Piacere told the story of a man and his friends who engaged a variety of sexual encounters at his boss’s house while the latter was away. The broadcast depicted men and women in various states of undress and engaging in different types of sexual activity. Telelatino broadcast the film at 2:00 am on September 24, 2006 with an 18+ classification and viewer advisories.

In response to the complaint that this type of movie demeans women, the CBSC applied Article 4 of the CAB Sex-Role Portrayal Code, which requires that programming “refrain from the exploitation of women.” The Panel observed that “sexually explicit content is not inevitably equivalent to exploitation. Provided that no degrading comments are made about the nature or role of either gender, and that neither gender is portrayed to the detriment of the other, the program will not be understood to be in violation of the [Code].”

The Panel also noted that the program contained appropriate warnings of the sexual content, but that Telelatino aired the 18+ classification icon for only 6 seconds, rather than the required 15. The Panel found a code violation on that account.

The complainant also alleged that the rating information was not accurate. The CBSC commented that it is unfortunate and confusing for viewers that cable and satellite television providers do not necessarily use the same ratings system as the broadcasters for the functioning of their digital blocking technologies. Since this is not a broadcast standards issue, the Council noted that viewers must familiarize themselves with the ratings and blocking technology available on their own equipment.

Canada’s private broadcasters have themselves created industry standards in the form of Codes on ethics, gender portrayal and television violence by which they expect the members of their profession will abide. In 1990, they also created the CBSC, which is the self-regulatory body with the responsibility of administering those professional broadcast Codes, as well as the Code dealing with journalistic practices first created by the Radio Television News Directors Association of Canada (RTNDA) in 1970. More than 600 radio stations, satellite radio services, television stations and specialty services 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 CBSC’s website at

This media release is also available in Italian.