“The Simpsons” Not A Children’S Program, Rules Broadcast Standards Council

Ottawa, March 13, 1996 – The Ontario Regional Council of the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) ruled today that an episode of “The Simpsons” aired on CFMT-TV (Toronto) did not breach industry standards on violence, gender portrayal or ethics.

A CFMT-TV viewer wrote to complain about the December 6, 1994 episode, in which one of the characters brought alcohol to school and was heard swearing. Another character, according to the complainant, interviewed a candidate for a waitress position and later slept with her. In the complainant’s view, the show contained bad examples for children and was inappropriate for family viewing. Moreover, she had been told by the station to contact the U.S. broadcaster, Fox, to voice her concerns.

CFMT-TV responded that the program, although animated, was not designed for children. In the station’s view, the program was of the satirical genre. The viewer was unsatisfied with this reply and asked the CBSC to pursue the matter. The Council decided that, indeed, the program was not intended as children’s programming. Council also believed that, by scheduling it at 7:30 p.m., CFMT-TV was entitled to expect that parents would exercise their discretion in determining whether to allow their children to watch a program containing material not appropriate to all members of their families. The Regional Council did feel, however, that the broadcaster should have directed the viewer to Canadian resources like the CBSC, instead of having her contact the U.S. broadcaster.

Composed equally of broadcasters and representatives of the public, the Ontario Regional Council includes Marianne Barrie, the Chair and a public member; Al MacKay, Vice-Chair and a broadcaster; broadcasters Paul Fockler and Madeline Ziniak (not present for the decision); and public representatives Robert Stanbury and Taanta Gupta. Their decision was unanimous.

Approximately 400 private sector radio and television stations from across Canada are members of the CBSC and adhere to industry standards on violence, gender portrayal, ethics and journalistic practices.

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