Ottawa, April 25, 1997 -- The Atlantic Regional Council of the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) released its decision today concerning the MITV series, Millennium.
The decision concerns the premiere episode of Milennium, broadcast at 10 p.m. in late October, 1996. The episode dealt with a former lawman with psychic powers who was called upon to search for the perpetrator of a series of murders. The program also contained scenes in which the murderer imagined slaying a stripper, and another scene in which the murderer, cruising for male prostitutes, later took a dead body from his car. The body was later shown charred and decapitated. An MITV viewer felt that these scenes depicted gratuitous, sadistic violence, during a time when children could be watching television. She added that any warning that might have been provided by MITV was merely on-screen and not audible. MITV replied, however, that the scenes described by the viewer were integral to the plot and were not gratiutous. The station defended its choice of scheduling as being consistent with industry standards concerning children’s viewing time. MITV indicated that the advisory had been both video and audio, and that there had been additional advisories during the commercial breaks. The viewer was unsatisfied with this response and asked the CBSC to have its Atlantic Regional Council review the matter.
In its decision (attached), the Atlantic Regional Council affirmed that the scenes in the program generally showed the results of violent acts and not the acts themselves. The program was typical of a genre intended for adult audiences, and, although admittedly, the imagery and editing of this genre of program could give rise to fear or terror in an adult audience, the scenes containing violent elements were an essential component of the development of the plot and character. In the Council’s view, the program did not contravene the industry’s code on television violence, which prohibits gratuitous violence. Moreover, the program contained “scenes of violence intended for adult audiences.” By scheduling the program at 10 p.m., MITV had respected the industry’s 9 p.m. watershed hour after which violent programming for adults can be aired. The Council added that the viewer advisories provided by MITV were entirely appropriate and fulfilled the station’s obligations to inform viewers of the content they might be watching. As a result, the Council decided that MITV had not breached the industry’s code on television violence.
In addition to administering the Violence Code, the CBSC administers broadcasting industry codes on ethics, gender portrayal and journalistic ethics. Some 400 private sector television and radio stations from across Canada are members of the CBSC.
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This and other recent decisions of the CBSC 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 (###) ###-####.