ARCHIVED -  Public Notice CRTC 1995-93

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Public Notice

Ottawa, 13 June 1995
Public Notice CRTC 1995-93
Clarification of Certain Matters Relating to the Airing of "Infomercials" During the Broadcast Day
In Public Notice CRTC 1994-139 dated 7 November 1994 and entitled "Amendment to the Television Broadcasting Regulations, 1987, the Commission announced that it would be prepared to consider applications for licence amendments by licensees of private television programming undertakings that would authorize them, by condition of licence, to air infomercials during the broadcast day. The notice outlined several criteria to which infomercials would be required to conform. In response to questions from various licensees and other parties, the Commission wishes to clarify certain of the criteria, as well as other aspects of its guidelines relating to the airing of infomercials.
Definition of an "ordering opportunity"
Criterion 7 in Public Notice CRTC 1994-139 sets out guidelines regarding the identification of infomercials. These guidelines are designed to prevent any confusion on the part of the viewer. Criterion 7a) requires that each production be preceded and concluded with a clear and prominent written and oral announcement that the programming constitutes paid commercial programming. Further, under criterion 7b), the Commission stipulates that:
 a clear and prominent written announcement must also be made prior to each ordering opportunity indicating that the programming the viewer is watching constitutes paid commercial programming.
Following the release of its November 1994 public notice, the Commission received a letter from the Telecaster Committee of Canada Inc. The Telecaster Committee, formed in 1972, provides a service to private television stations, networks and specialty services in Canada by pre-clearing advertising messages to ensure compliance with industry standards.
The Telecaster Committee expressed concern that the notice does not state explicitly what constitutes an ordering opportunity. It asked the Commission to define specifically what is meant by this term and, thereby, to clarify when disclaimers are required. In response to this request, the Commission hereby defines an "ordering opportunity" as follows:
 An ordering opportunity is a direct solicitation, made by an on-screen host or through a voice-over, that provides information on how to purchase the product or service being advertised. The display of either a 1-800 phone number or a company name or address by itself does not constitute an ordering opportunity.
The Commission is satisfied that this clarification will limit the need for disclaimers and help to minimize on-screen clutter during infomercials, while ensuring that viewers are clearly informed, within the context of each infomercial, that these productions constitute paid commercial programming.
Messages exceeding 2 minutes in length
In Public Notice CRTC 1994-139, the Commission stated that it would also expect licensees who air "commercial messages that are 2 minutes or longer" to adhere to the requirements described in criterion 7. As noted in Decision CRTC 95-27 dated 23 January 1995, the Commission received several requests from broadcasters for clarification of this requirement.
The Commission hereby advises that criterion 7 applies to commercial messages exceeding 2 minutes in length only.
Application of guidelines to private television networks
The Commission stated in Public Notice CRTC 1994-139 that it would permit only licensees of private television programming undertakings to air infomercials at this time. The Commission considers that television networks perform functions similar to those of television programming undertakings, and that applications by licensees of private television networks to air infomercials during the broadcast day may therefore be approved. The Commission notes in this regard that Decision CRTC 95-242 dated 19 May 1995 approved an application to amend the network licence issued to CTV Television Network Ltd. by adding a condition of licence allowing it to broadcast infomercials during the broadcast day.
Logging requirements for infomercials
In line with criterion 3 set out in Public Notice CRTC 1994-139, infomercials should be logged as having no program nationality. When infomercials are logged, the start and end times should be listed and the Class should be indicated as "PGI". No other information relating to infomercials need be included in the program log.
Allan J. Darling
Secretary General

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