The next phase in Canada’s on-going debate over TV violence begins next month when the country’s broadcast regulator, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) is expected to release the results of a series of public meetings conducted last fall.
The meetings, held in nine cities from coast to coast, involved the public and leaders within the broadcast and production industry.
‘Canadians have told us in many ways for many years they want better protection of their children from TV violence, said CRTC chairman Keith Spicer, in announcing the meetings.
One of the major issues the CRTC is expected to address is the question of control over cable and direct-to-home broadcast signals.
The lack of uniform restrictions on what children can watch in Canada came to light in the fall of 1994 when the industry’s Canadian Broadcast Standards Council – a self-regulatory body – found that Mighty Morphin Power Rangers violated its violence code. The council’s ruling applied only to CanWest Global Communications, the private broadcaster that aired the show, and at whom a complaint had been registered.
Two other broadcasters running the program, children’s cable specialty service YTV and the French TVA Network, voluntarily complied. But the incident caused concern over foreign signals to suddenly move it high up on the CRTC’s agenda.
Other means of keeping checks on TV violence are being examined in the Canadian broadcast system.
A year ago, an independent organization called the Coalition for Responsible Television set up a 1-900 number to field complaints over TV programming. These are then forwarded to the standards council.
Another group, set up by broadcasters – the Action Group on Violence in Television – is working on a classification system to help parents vet programming.
And V-Chip testing, headed by western Canadian cabler Shaw Communications, is heading into its second phase of field trials, adding urban centres in Ontario and Quebec.