ARCHIVED -  Public Notice CRTC 1994-155

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Public Notice

Ottawa, 21 December 1994
Public Notice CRTC 1994-155
The Action Group on Violence on television was formed in February 1993 and consists of the following members: Association of Canadian Advertisers, Canadian Association of Broadcasters, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Canadian Cable Television Association, Canadian Film and Television Production Association, Association des producteurs de film et de télévision du Québec, and the licensees of Pay television/Pay-Per-View services and of Specialty services.
In September 1993, the Action Group adopted a general statement of principles concerning violence on television. These principles established the basic standards for the depiction of violence in television programming and served as the point of departure for the creation of violence codes by some Canadian broadcasters. At that time, the Action Group also announced that it was committed to developing a national classification system for television programming.
In the fall of 1993, all pay television and pay-per-view licensees submitted their proposed violence codes to the Commission. Subsequently, the licensees decided that it would be more beneficial to have an industry-wide code regarding programming violence rather than an individual code for each licensee.
The licensees submitted their revised Pay Television and Pay-Per-View Industry Code of Programming Standards and Practices in November 1994. These guidelines now contain a separate Part II dealing with violence in pay and pay-per-view television, and entitled: Pay Television and Pay-Per-View Programming Code Regarding Violence (the Violence Code).
The Commission's Response
The Commission, with certain qualifications, accepts the pay-television and pay-per-view industry's new Code on programming violence. It congratulates the licensees involved upon their cooperative efforts in developing a Code intended to protect viewers, especially children, from the harmful effects of television violence and, at the same time, preserve freedom of expression. A copy of the Violence Code is appended to this notice.
Among other things, the new Violence Code prohibits programming which:
° contains gratuitous violence; or
° sanctions, promotes or glamorizes violence.
The Violence Code also establishes clear guidelines for children's programming; and provides scheduling guidelines for programming distributed by pay-television licensees which contains scenes of violence intended for adult audiences. In addition, it addresses the issue of programming aired during preview periods and on barker channels.
The Commission reminds the licensees concerned that its acceptance of the Violence Code is conditional upon the development, and inclusion in the Code, of a satisfactory system of program classification. Once the Action Group has developed a classification system that is acceptable to the Commission, the pay television and pay-per-view licensees will be expected to incorporate the system into the Violence Code.
Implementation of the Code's Requirements
The Commission expects all pay television and pay-per-view licensees to be operating in compliance with the provisions of the Violence Code by no later than 1 January 1995. At the time of licence renewal or upon issuance of new licences, the Commission intends to require such compliance as a condition of licence.
Allan J. Darling
Secretary General
1.0 Content
1.1 Pay and pay-per-view licensees shall not air programming which:
+ contains gratuitous violence in any form; or
+ sanctions, promotes or glamorizes violence.
("Gratuitous means material which does not play an integral role in developing the plot, character or theme of the material as a whole)
2.0 Children's Programming
(Children refers to persons under 12 years of age)
2.1 Programming directed at children requires particular caution in the depiction of violence. Very little violence, either physical, verbal or emotional shall be portrayed in children's programming. In addition, children's programming will conform to all of the following:
2.2 In children's programming portrayed by real-life characters, violence shall only be portrayed when it is essential to the development of character and plot.
2.3 Animated programming for children, while accepted as a stylized form of storytelling which can contain non-realistic violence, shall not have violence as its central theme, and shall not invite dangerous imitation.
2.4 Programming for children shall deal carefully with themes which could threaten their sense of security, when portraying, for example, domestic conflict, the death of parents or close relatives, or the death or injury of their pets, street crime or the use of drugs.
2.5 Programming for children shall deal carefully with themes which could invite children to imitate acts which they see on screen, such as the use of plastic bags as toys, use of matches, the use of dangerous household products as playthings, or dangerous physical acts such as climbing apartment balconies or rooftops.
2.6 Programming for children shall not contain realistic scenes of violence which create the impression that violence is the preferred way, or the only method to resolve conflict between individuals.
2.7 Programming for children shall not contain realistic scenes of violence which minimize or gloss over the effects of violent acts. Any realistic depictions of violence shall portray, in human terms, the consequences of that violence to its victims and its perpetrators.
2.8 Programming for children shall not contain frightening or otherwise excessive special effects not required by the storyline.
3.0 Scheduling
Subscription pay television services will not air scenes of violence intended for adult audiences prior to 9:00 p.m. or after 6:00 a.m. in the home province of the service in question.
The home provinces of the subscription pay television services are as follows:
Super Ecran Quebec
The Movie Network Ontario
Family Channel Ontario
MoviePix Ontario
Superchannel Alberta
MovieMax! Alberta
4.0 Classification/Ratings and Advisories
4.1 Licensees will adopt the current ratings supplied by the Classification/Censor/ Review Boards of their home province. Programming which is classified/rated by the applicable Provincial Board will attract the identical classification/ rating by the pay or pay-per-view licensee. Any programming not classified/rated by the applicable Provincial Board will be classified in a manner consistent with the guidelines in effect for that Provincial Board.
4.2 All ratings will designate the intended audience (ie: age group) for programming or a warning that the programming is not intended for a specific age group.
4.3 The Alberta rating of "M" will be changed to "A" to avoid confusion with the B.C. rating of "M" which is equivalent to the Alberta rating of "PG". The Ontario based services will change the O.F.R.B. designation of "Family" to the more commonly used and understood "G".
4.4 Where a Provincial Board rating may be obsolete (i.e. rated more than 10 years prior to the current year), the film will be evaluated using the current practices of the applicable Provincial Board.
4.5 Viewer advisories and ratings (including an identification of the intended audience and/or the audience to which programming is not directed) will be given prominence in the monthly subscribers' guide.
4.6 Viewer advisories and ratings will appear "on-air", in both written and spoken forms, in all programming not suitable for children.
5.0 Previews/Barker Channel
Where programming is aired during preview periods Licensees will exhibit only programming that meets the same standards of scheduling and content contained in the Canadian Association of Broadcasters Voluntary Code Regarding Violence in Television Programming. This same provision will apply to any promotional material provided to cable operators for distribution on barker channels. Any clips so provided which are unsuitable for children will be clearly identified as unsuitable for broadcast before 9:00 p.m. or after 6:00 a.m.

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