Scenes of Suicide in Drama Program were Acceptable but Require Higher Rating, Says Canadian Broadcast Standards Council

Ottawa, May 24, 2023 – The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning two episodes of the legal drama Indéfendable broadcast on TVA (CFTM-DT, Montreal). The CBSC concluded that scenes of suicide and domestic violence did not constitute gratuitous violence or promote violence under the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ (CAB) Violence Code, but the episodes should have been rated 13+ instead of 8+ under the Quebec classification system.

Indéfendable centres on a law firm of criminal lawyers and their clients. TVA aired the series at 7:30 pm. The CBSC received complaints about two episodes that included scenes of suicide. The viewer complained that the scenes were too detailed and did not follow recommendations from suicide prevention organizations. One of the episodes also contained scenes of domestic violence. TVA noted that the scenes were relevant to the characters’ storylines and that it usually displays information about suicide prevention resources at the end of such programs, though this had been inadvertently absent on one of the two episodes examined by the CBSC. TVA had rated both episodes 8+.

The CBSC’s French-Language Panel examined the complaints under the CAB Violence Code. The Panel acknowledged that the scenes “could be difficult to watch”, but found they were relevant to the development of the plot and characters, and demonstrated the negative effects of the violence. The scenes therefore did not violate Article 1.0 (Content) of the CAB Violence Code. The Panel also concluded that the scenes were not particularly graphic, so TVA did not violate Article 3.0 (Scheduling) for airing the episodes in the early evening. The Panel did, however, conclude that the 8+ rating was too low because the themes of murder, suicide and domestic violence require a certain maturity, meaning that a 13+ classification would have been more appropriate. TVA violated Article 4.0 of the Violence Code on this account. The CBSC also recognized TVA’s efforts to provide contact information for relevant resources at the end of troubling episodes, even though this is not mandatory under the code.

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.

– 30 –

All CBSC decisions, codes, and related information are available on the CBSC’s website. For more information, please visit