ARCHIVED - Public Notice CRTC 84-46

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Public Notice

Ottawa, 29 February 1984
Public Notice CRTC 1984-46
In Public Notice CRTC 1983-16, issued on 26 January 1983 related to pay television programming, the Commission drew the attention of pay television licensees to their responsibilities under the Broadcasting Act for the programming distributed on their broadcasting undertakings. The Commission specifically stated:
 While it accepts the idea that a discretionary service like pay television, which is not freely available to all viewers, can carry a wide range of programs, including adult programming, to appeal to a variety of interests and tastes, this does not detract from the duty of licensees to ensure that any such programming is presented in good taste, at the appropriate time, and is of high quality.
 As to the question of the respective responsibilities of the Commission and the broadcasters, it must be stated clearly that:
 1) the Commission and broadcasters must be guided by Section 3(c) of the Broadcasting Act;
 2) the Commission is not a censorship body;
 3) the Commission has no mandate to act pre-emptively with respect to events that have not yet occurred and with respect to programs that have not yet been aired;
 4) it is for the courts to define key terms like obscenity.
Furthermore, the Commission undertook, in that Notice, to review its proposed pay television regulations taking into account the concerns expressed by the Task Force on Sex-Role Stereotyping and by the public at large relating to sexual exploitation and the portrayal of gratuitous violence against women. This concern was reflected in more than 8,000 complaints received by the Commission and the Minister of Communications from members of the public and from a variety of organizations and groups concerned with the scheduling and nature of some of the programming on pay television.
In response to such concerns, the Commission announced its intention in Public Notice CRTC 1983-16 to:
 convene a meeting of pay television network licensees with a view to developing voluntary industry standards regarding their proposed adult programming. Among the matters the Commission intends to consider in this context are: the time of exhibition, the avoidance of the portrayal of sexual exploitation or sexual violence, and due concern for taste and quality in programming.
Subsequently, in Public Notice CRTC 1984-3, issued on 5 January 1984, the Commission revised its proposed pay television regulations, requiring pay television licensees to provide adequate information to subscribers with respect to the nature and audience suitability of any mature programming distributed on its undertaking. The Commission also announced it was considering the "inclusion of a prohibition against the distribution of any program containing comments or pictorial representations which, when taken in context, would be abusive of any race, religion or creed, or of either sex." As required by the Statutory Instruments Act, the proposed regulations were forwarded to the Clerk of the Privy Council for review. This review is still in progress.
Pursuant to Public Notice CRTC 1983-16, a number of meetings and discussions between pay television licensees and Commission staff were held in 1983 and early 1984 concerning the licensees' plans for developing voluntary industry standards regarding pay television programming.
On 15 February 1984, the Commission received a document entitled Pay Television Programming Standards and Practices , a copy of which is attached to this Notice as Appendix I. The code has been endorsed by the following pay television licensees:
- Star Channel Services Limited; - Ontario Independent Pay Television Limited; - Allarcom Limited; - Aim Satellite Broadcasting Corporation; - First Choice Canadian Communications Corporation.
With respect to Premier Choix: TVEC, the Commission has been advised that it intends to file a French-language document on behalf of Premier Choix: TVEC as soon as possible, which will also incorporate the principles set forth (in the attached document).
At this time, the Commission wishes to acknowledge receipt of the code developed by the pay television industry and invites all interested parties to submit their comments directly to the pay television licensees by writing to them at the addresses listed in Appendix II of this Notice.
The Commission will require pay television licensees to submit, within 60 days of the date of this Notice, a full report on the comments and concerns received in regard to the voluntary code and the licensee's response, and it will thereafter determine what further action, if any, may be required.
J.G. Patenaude Secretary General
APPENDIX I February 15, 1984
A. Introduction
Pay television network licensees in Canada are committed to the presentation of programming services which are well balanced, of high quality, and of interest to a wide number of Canadians. The programming so presented is intended to appeal to a variety of interests and tastes.
A major appeal of the premium pay television services in Canada as well as in the United States is the ability to see feature films and other programming material in their original theatrical form, uninterrupted by commercials.
Pay television is distinguished from conventional television as it requires an affirmative decision by a subscriber to receive it "unscrambled" in the home. As a discretionary service, pay television has more latitude to program material that is intended for mature audiences than is the case with conventional television.
Therefore, pay television network licensees have a responsibility to ensure that the programming they provide is of high quality and meets general community standards within the context of a discretionary Service.
B. Selection of Programs
1. Responsibility for Selection. As provided in the Broadcasting Act and in the conditions of licence, selection of programs is the responsibility of the particular pay television licensee. The network licensee is by law responsible for what is distributed and will not delegate this responsibility.
2. Relationship with Producers. In the course of approving the production, particularly prior to commencement of filming or taping, or in approving any changes during production, pay television licensees can influence producers positively in their exercise of good judgment and taste. In order to raise issues of concern with independent producers, pay television network licensees will distribute a copy of this document to all independent producers who apply for script and concept development funding, for pre-licensing of product, and to all regular program suppliers, whether Canadian or foreign.
3. Exercise of Discretion. The discretion in the selection of programs will be exercised by the programming personnel of the pay television network licensee, as directed by this policy statement, and by the management of the licensee. All material will be fully screened prior to airing.
4. Exercise of Discretion. The discretion of programming personnel will be exercised responsibly and in good taste. In particular, no material should be selected that is
(a) contrary to law, or
(b) offensive to general community standards.
"Community standards" will necessarily change over time and therefore will be subject to continuing review and evaluation. Pay television licensees will not select programming that would go beyond an "R-rating" or its equivalent, as established under Part C hereof.
5. Previews. Notwithstanding the above, where the program is aired in preview periods (i.e. when the programming is unscrambled and may be received whether or not the subscriber ordered it), pay television licensees will select programming that meets the same standards of scheduling and content that apply to conventional broadcasters.
C. Classification and Cautionary Warnings
1. Program Guide. In order that viewers will be able to exercise an informed choice on what they wish to watch on pay television, pay television licensees will provide a monthly program guide to their subscribers. They will also send out program information to all media for inclusion in their television listings. In addition to the single-letter classifications described below, pay television licensees will provide in their program guide where possible and appropriate, short descriptive warnings as to the nature of the material, e.g., "Adult situations and language", "graphic violence", "some nudity".
2. Single-Letter Classification. In order to provide broad guidance as to the suitability of the programming, pay television network licensees regularly provide at least the following classifications in their guides for each of their programs:
G Suitable for viewing by a general audience of all ages;
PG Parental guidance is advised;
R This material, if a feature film, was given a "Restricted" or "R-rating" in its theatrical release; or, if not released theatrically, is of equivalent suitability to R-rated films.
3. On-Air Warning. Where appropriate, pay television licensees will provide a cautionary warning on-the-air at the beginning of the program, indicating the information set out in Appendix A.
4. Decision on Classification. The decision as to classification will be made by the particular pay television licensee involved, based on screening the particular version intended to be aired. However, pay licensees will attempt to coordinate ratings of films so that the same warnings are used on all pay networks where material is duplicated. In making this decision, licensees should take into consideration any ratings or classifications that may have been given to the program by other appropriate industry or government bodies. In some cases, however, there may be no other ratings upon which a comparison can be made; in such cases, the pay television licensee will use its best judgment in assigning an equivalent rating.
D. Program Concerns
 1. Sex-Role Stereotypinq. This question has been extensively explored in the Report of the Task Force on Sex-Role Stereotyping to the CRTC. While pay television networks depend on major studios as the primary source of their movie product, licensees have a responsibility to raise the issue with producers who seek script and concept development funding and prelicensinq of product. Pay television networks will seek to fund Programming that provides a balanced view of sex roles.
2. Gratuitous Violence Towards Women. The portrayal of gratuitous violence towards women will be avoided and pay television licensees will reflect this policy in their selection process described in there guidelines. Programming personnel will exercise particular care and discretion in prescreening this material and considering the context of any possibly objectionable material.
E. Scheduling of Programs
1. Scheduling. Pay television generally includes fewer programs per month than conventional broadcasting, but such programs are repeated more frequently to suit the convenience of the schedules of the subscribers. At the same time, pay television licensees are sensitive to the concerns expressed by some that mature material should not be scheduled in periods when school-age children are home. There may also be certain mature material that should only be programmed in late evening or early morning hours.
2. Family Viewing. Pay television licensees will exercise particular discretion in respect to the period from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on school days, and during the day on weekends or holidays, to program material suitable for family viewing.
3. Adult Movies or Programming. In addition, pay television licensees will exercise their discretion carefully in regard to programs of which sexually explicit and/or violent material is the dominant element, so that such programming will be scheduled in late evening or early morning hours only.
Appendix "A"
1. "Pay Licensee" is proud to present this program which is suitable for viewing by all ages.
2. The following program contains scenes of violence and therefore viewer discretion is advised.
3. The following program contains scenes which use coarse language. Viewer discretion is advised.
4. The following program contains scenes of nudity. Viewer discretion is advised.
5. The following program deals with mature subject matter. Viewer discretion is advised.
6. The following program contains scenes of extreme violence. Viewer discretion is advised.
7. The following program contains scenes of violence and coarse language. Viewer discretion is advised.
8. The following program contains scenes of nudity and violence. Viewer discretion is advised.
9. The following program deals with mature subject matter and contains scenes of violence and nudity. Viewer discretion is advised.
10. The following program contains scenes of nudity and coarse language. Viewer discretion is advised.
11. The following program deals with mature subject matter and contains scenes of nudity and coarse language. Viewer discretion is advised.
12. The following program contains scenes of extreme violence and coarse language. Viewer discretion is advised.
13. The following program contains scenes of explicit sexuality and nudity and may be offensive to some viewers. Therefore, this film is recommended for mature audiences only.
Fred Klinkhammer, President FIRST CHOICE CANADIAN COMMUNICATIONS CORPORATION 1 Dundas Street W., Suite 1700 Toronto, Ontario M5G 1Z3
Jocelyne Pelchat-Johnson Acting President PREMIER CHOIX: TVEC 666 Sherbrooke Street West, 15th Floor Montréal, Quebec H3A 1E7
Steven Harris, President ONTARIO INDEPENDENT PAY TELEVISION LIMITED 86 Bloor Street West, Suite 500 Toronto, Ontario M5S 1M5
Doug Holthy, President ALLARCOM LIMITED 5324 Calgary Trail, Suite 200 Edmonton, Alberta T6H 4J8
STAR CHANNEL SERVICES LIMITED 603-1 Sackville Place P.O. Box 1074 Halifax, Nova Scotia B3J 2X1
George Spracklin, President AIM SATELLITE BROADCASTING CORPORATION 108-900 West Georgia Street Vancouver, B.C. V6C 1P9

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