Erotic Programming at Midnight Is Acceptable with Appropriate Viewer Information; Failure to Deliver Logger Tapes Is a Breach of Broadcaster Obligations, Says Canadian Broadcast Standards Council

Ottawa, March 9, 2005 - The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning the broadcast of the motion picture Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens on the specialty service Bravo! at midnight. The movie included scenes with nudity and explicit sexual activity. The complainant claimed that the content of Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens was “‘suitable’ for adult viewing only, if even that.” She also objected to the fact that it could be available on a tiered basis with other more mainstream specialty service programming. The National Specialty Services Panel disagreed.

This Panel has consistently acknowledged over the years that this means that the system does not anticipate that there will be “one size fits all” programming. Nor is there any requirement that the programming be anodyne. Styles of programming that include elements of violence, nudity, sexuality, coarse language, scariness and other mature themes are acceptable fare on all stations and services, including conventional and specialty programming undertakings, provided that certain conditions are met. At the end of the day, it is the view of this Panel that the Russ Meyer style of erotic filmmaking is, in the foregoing sense, legitimately available to Canadians. The limiting conditions pertinent to this decision relate to the provision of sufficient information that will enable audiences to determine whether the programming will be suitable for them and their families to watch. To assist viewers, private broadcasters provide on-screen ratings icons and the more fulsome content descriptions that are a part of viewer advisories. They also encode their programming to assist in the operation of the V-chip (there are also similar blocking devices provided by digital cable and satellite distributors). The point is that broadcasters provide people with the ability to avoid seeing what they do not wish to see.

Nor, the Panel pointed out, is there “any breach of any codified standard or practice in the bundling of Bravo! with other more mainstream specialty services.” The Panel was, however, concerned that Bravo! had not retained the logger tapes that would have enabled them to judge whether the broadcaster had provided viewers with the tools enabling them to make informed viewing choices.

As the provisions of the CBSC Manual […] make clear, it is a fundamental obligation of broadcasters to retain logger tapes of what they have broadcast on a 24-7 basis for a 28-day period. Moreover, the obligation is not one of means, it is an obligation of result. They do not merely have to “try hard” to retain the tapes, absent a reason beyond their control (or that of persons for whom they are responsible) they must succeed in so doing.

The failure to furnish the required tapes constituted a breach of Bravo!’s CBSC membership obligations.

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 550 radio and 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 For more information, please contact the CBSC National Chair, Mme Andrée Noël CBSC Executive Director, John MacNab