An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act (reduction of violence in television broadcasts)

This bill was last introduced in the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in September 2008.

This bill was previously introduced in the 39th Parliament, 1st Session.

Sponsor

Bernard Bigras  Bloc

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)

Status

Not active, as of April 25, 2007
(This bill did not become law.)

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Broadcasting Act to grant the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission the power to make regulations respecting the broadcasting of violent scenes.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Votes

April 25, 2007 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage.

March 4th, 2008 / 3:35 p.m.
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Conservative

The Chair Conservative Gary Schellenberger

I call to order meeting number 19 of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, pursuant to the order of reference of Tuesday, October 16, 2007, Bill C-327, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act (reduction of violence in television broadcasts). We welcome Mr. Bigras.

Please give your opening statement, sir.

Canadian HeritageCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

February 15th, 2008 / 12:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Gary Schellenberger Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the fourth report of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, requesting an extension of 30 sitting days to consider Bill C-327, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act (reduction of violence in television broadcasts).

I am also pleased to present the fifth report of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage with respect to copyright legislation.

February 14th, 2008 / 4:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Jim Abbott Conservative Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Chair, there's an item of business that I think we have to consider. I would be happy to provide notice of motion, so we can deal with what I'm going to talk about here on Tuesday, except that I think we may have unanimous consent to deal with it without that formality.

This is the issue of Bill C-327, which has been referred to this committee. Bill C-327 might loosely be called “violence in television”. It is a motion of a Bloc member. It passed second reading. We are now reaching a point at which, if we do not have a 30-day extension, the bill will be referred back to the House unamended. Unless I'm mistaken, there was broad consensus that the issue is very important, that it's very important that we have witnesses and that we take a look at all of the ramifications of the bill.

Logically, because we have been time-constrained with the CBC consideration, we haven't gotten around to this bill. But according to my understanding of parliamentary procedure, if we do not have this extension, the bill would automatically be referred back to the House without amendment and the House will have to deal with it. I don't think that was the intent of the members of the House.

World Television DayStatements By Members

November 21st, 2007 / 2:10 p.m.
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Bloc

Pauline Picard Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, today we are celebrating World Television Day, as proclaimed by the UN in 1996 to encourage cultural and global exchanges of television programs with a focus on peace, security and social development.

Bill C-327 introduced in June by the hon. member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie will help regulate violence on television to provide young people with access to healthy television.

According to a study by the Centre for Media Studies at Laval University, acts of physical violence on television have increased 286% in 10 years and 81% of the acts of violence are seen on programs that start before 9 p.m.

On November 19, during World Day for Prevention of Child Abuse, the Centrale des syndicats du Québec issued a public statement to say that television broadcasters are not being responsible enough.

Business of the HouseOpening of the Second Session of the 39th Parliament

October 16th, 2007 / 6:45 p.m.
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Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Order. It appears we have a few moments and to save time later I will inform members of something they are just aching to hear about now.

As hon. members know, our Standing Orders provide for the continuance of private members' business from session to session within a Parliament.

The list for the consideration of private members' business established on April 7, 2006, continues from the last session to this session notwithstanding prorogation.

As such, all items of private members' business originating in the House of Commons that were listed on the order paper during the previous session are reinstated to the order paper and shall be deemed to have been considered and approved at all stages completed at the time of prorogation of the first session.

Generally speaking, in practical terms, this also means that those items on the Order of Precedence remain on the Order of Precedence or, as the case may be, are referred to committee or sent to the Senate.

However, there is one item that cannot be left on the Order of Precedence. Pursuant to Standing Order 87(1), Parliamentary secretaries who are ineligible by virtue of their office to be put on the Order of Precedence will be dropped to the bottom of the list for the consideration of private members' business, where they will remain as long as they hold those offices.

Consequently, the item in the name of the member for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, Motion M-302, is withdrawn from the Order of Precedence.

With regard to the remaining items on the order of precedence let me remind the House of the specifics since the House is scheduled to resume its daily private members' business hour starting tomorrow.

At prorogation, there were seven private members' bills originating in the House of Commons adopted at second reading and referred to committee. Therefore, pursuant to Standing Order 86.1:

Bill C-207, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (tax credit for new graduates working in designated regions), is deemed referred to the Standing Committee on Finance;

Bill C-265, An Act to amend the Employment Insurance Act (qualification for and entitlement to benefits), is deemed referred to the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities;

Bill C-305, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (exemption from taxation of 50% of United States social security payments to Canadian residents), is deemed referred to the Standing Committee on Finance;

Bill C-327, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act (reduction of violence in television broadcasts), is deemed referred to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage;

Bill C-343, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (motor vehicle theft), is deemed referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights;

Bill C-377, An Act to ensure Canada assumes its responsibilities in preventing dangerous climate change, is deemed referred to the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development; and

Bill C-428, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (methamphetamine), is deemed referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

(Bills deemed introduced, read the first time, read the second time and referred to a committee)

Furthermore, four Private Members' bills originating in the House of Commons had been read the third time and passed. Therefore, pursuant to Standing Order 86.1, the following bills are deemed adopted at all stages and passed by the House:

Bill C-280, An Act to Amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (coming into force of sections 110, 111 and 171);

Bill C-292, An Act to implement the Kelowna Accord;

Bill C-293, An Act respecting the provision of official development assistance abroad; and

Bill C-299, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (identification information obtained by fraud or false pretence).

Accordingly, a message will be sent to inform the Senate that this House has adopted these four bills.

Hon. members will find at their desks an explanatory note recapitulating these remarks. The Table officers are available to answer any further questions that hon. members may have.

I trust that these measures will assist the House in understanding how private members' business will be conducted in this second session of the 39th Parliament.

(Bills deemed adopted at all stages and passed by the House)

The House resumed from April 20 consideration of the motion that Bill C-327, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act (reduction of violence in television broadcasts), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Broadcasting ActPrivate Members' Business

April 20th, 2007 / 2:05 p.m.
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Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would first like to thank all my Bloc Québécois, Liberal, NDP and Conservative colleagues in the House of Commons for taking part in this important debate on reducing violence on television during prime time, especially the hours when children are watching.

Although Bill C-327 was important a few days, weeks, months and years ago, it is even more vital today, in light of recent events. Eight years ago today, on April 20, 1999, the tragic events at Columbine High School left 12 students and several teachers dead and many people injured. Today, we mark the eighth anniversary of that tragic event, which teaches us that we must fight against all sources of violence in our society. Like it or not, television is an important medium that conveys our social values. I believe that we need regulations that establish a middle ground between total freedom of expression and total censure. We are not suggesting censure. Our approach is designed neither to censure nor to allow total freedom of expression, but to strike a balance so that programs with violent content that are intended for viewers 13 and over are broadcast after 9:00 p.m. That balance is there.

As we all know, after the Columbine massacre, another tragic event took place at Dawson College, where a young woman, Anastasia De Sousa, was killed. The crazed gunman who entered Dawson College was inspired by a number of violent films and events. That fact cannot be denied.

Most recently, this week, the greatest tragedy of its kind in the United States took place at Virginia Tech university. In 1999, Virginia Tech's communications department published a study showing that a person exposed to violent programs for a certain number of hours would begin to seek violent solutions to conflicts with others.

We should have reacted back in 1999 when Virginia Tech researchers sounded the alarm. Today, Bill C-327 proposes a balanced solution to reduce violence in our society by reducing violence on television. I hope that my colleagues here in Parliament will keep the tragic events of the past few years in mind and support Bill C-327.

Broadcasting ActPrivate Members' Business

April 20th, 2007 / 1:45 p.m.
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Kootenay—Columbia B.C.

Conservative

Jim Abbott ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I have a quick comment about the Liberal member's speech.

My colleague from Wild Rose, who is a member of the justice committee, reminded me that it is the Liberal members on the justice committee who are shredding and gutting our government justice bills in committee. The member's complaints would be more genuine if he were to bring those complaints to his Liberal colleagues. I really do not think the Conservatives are very interested in taking lessons on justice issues, particularly when they are delivered by Liberals.

Today we are dealing with a very important subject that is a major cause for concern. Bill C-327, An act to amend the Broadcasting Act, that is before us today for debate has the worthy objective of reducing violence in Canadian society. The reduction of violence in society is a priority of Canada's new government and I want to thank the hon. member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie for his efforts in bringing this enactment before Parliament.

The tabling of Bill C-327 gives us an opportunity to consider our accomplishments in Canada in addressing the exposure of Canadians, and particularly children, to the violent and offensive content in television and other media.

Bill C-327 proposes that the Broadcasting Act be amended to alter the broadcasting policy for Canada. Furthermore, it proposes that the machinery of the broadcasting system be adjusted by mandating the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, the CRTC, to make specific regulations respecting the broadcast of violent scenes as a means to reduce violence in society.

Bill C-327, however, seems to ignore or discard any reference to or awareness of regulations, authorities or tools in current existence in Canada's broadcasting system. One such tool is the Canada Broadcast Standards Council.

The council's mandate is to oversee the administration of the Canadian private broadcaster codes. These currently include the Canadian Association of Broadcasters', CAB, sex role portrayal code, and the CAB violence code, both of which are imposed by the CRTC as conditions of licence for Canadian broadcasters, the CAB code of ethics and the Radio and Television News Directors Association of Canada code of journalistic ethics.

I should add that the CRTC last week issued a public notice calling for comment on a new CBSC code, the journalistic independence code. It would be administered by the CBSC and would be a CRTC condition of licence on Canadian broadcasters with ownership interests in both the print and broadcast areas.

There is another code in the offing, the equitable portrayal code. It will in due course extend to all communities the benefits hitherto available on the basis of gender alone, under the terms of the sex role portrayal code. It should be the subject of another CRTC public notice this year.

It is essential to note that the codified standards reflect Canadian values.

In the exercise of the CBSC mandate, they have since 1991 received complaints from tens of thousands of Canadians about all forms of programming, whether in the news and public affairs area, drama, comedy, talk radio or television, entertainment news magazine shows, feature films, reality programming, children's programming and so on.

Moreover the CBSC receives the expression of those concerns directly and indirectly. Even those which are initially sent to the CRTC are, with rare exception, forwarded to the CBSC for resolution. They deal with approximately 2,000 complaints every year from Canadians who are unhappy about something they have seen or heard on the airwaves.

What relates to this debate is that as a percentage of complaints to the CBSC, those relating to violence on television have been steadily declining by a huge margin, namely 37%, between 2001 and 2006.

Moreover, Bill C-327 would add nothing to the panoply of tools the CBSC has to deal with the subject, since issues relating to violence on television are already thoroughly covered by the combination of the CAB violence code and the CAB code of ethics, and rigorously enforced by the self-regulatory system solidly entrenched in the Canadian broadcasting system.

There is already a watershed hour that is not limited to violence intended for adults. It restricts all forms of adult content to the post-9 p.m. period.

We already have provisions for ratings and viewer advisories, which apply well beyond violence on television. To protect children from inappropriate television programming, we already have the most detailed provisions that can be found anywhere in the world. Bill C-327, if passed, would deliver less to the Canadian public than we already have.

For my friends in Parliament who will be voting on this bill, permit me to repeat that last sentence. Bill C-327, if passed, would deliver less to the Canadian public than we already have.

It is a mark of the success of the Canadian private broadcasters' self-regulatory system that it does not require the huge financial penalties of the American regulatory process to work. The system works because the private broadcasters have committed themselves to the process. They created it. They support it financially. Ninety-five per cent of the broadcasters in Canada pay into the CBSC.

Most importantly, though, they support it morally. After all, they live in the communities in which they broadcast. They want the CBSC to deal with all substantive public concerns about content, not just some of them. They want to tell Canadians, in their languages of comfort, how to access the self-regulatory process. Thoughtful Canadian viewers will recall the number of times there have been public service announcements, at the broadcaster's expense, that have directed them to the CBSC.

I would ask hon. members to consider the overall government approach to media violence. Media literacy and empowerment is a central tenet of the Government of Canada's approach to media violence.

Strategies to combat violence in various media and to protect children in particular from injurious information and material transmitted through the media, Internet, videos and electronic games include the Canadian strategy to promote safe, wise and responsible Internet use, called the CyberWise strategy, and the work of federal-provincial-territorial officials to mitigate against the exposure of children in particular to violence in video games.

It is important for us to acknowledge that we have a limited jurisdiction over foreign television signals as well as the material that may be accessed through other media outlets such as the Internet. Foreign television and radio signals can be received over the air by any Canadian residing near the U.S. border. The CRTC has no tools to deal with these broadcasts. The CRTC authorizes some foreign services for distribution in Canada. As they are authorized but not licensed by the CRTC, the conditions of licence imposed on Canadian broadcasters do not apply and they are not subject to the Canadian broadcasting industry's code of conduct and ethics.

I was informed yesterday that for a $60 one time fee I can access foreign satellite programming from anywhere in the world, delivered to me on my computer by any high speed ISP. This is not the future. This is now, today. The service bypasses the CRTC or any regulatory authority by direct, uncensored, uncontrolled technology.

In the current media environment, we find ourselves living in a global village. It is more important than ever that Canadians be well informed about the content they may be exposed to and the possibility of new technologies, but also about the potential harmful effects and limitations.

Just as we cannot be with our children at all times to keep them safe from harm, with the digital revolution we cannot protect our children and other Canadian audiences from controversial and objectionable content that originates from all over the world, and which, as we know, can be accessed by those who are determined.

Hon. members may take note of the recent launch of National Media Education Week. This initiative is precisely the sort of action through partnership that this government supports.

In conclusion, yes, we support measures that will combat violence and crime in society, but this government should not support the regulatory measures and legal sanctions advocated in Bill C-327 because the Canadian public will end up net losers.

Broadcasting ActPrivate Members' Business

April 20th, 2007 / 1:40 p.m.
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Bloc

Luc Malo Bloc Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am especially pleased to rise in this House to give my support to Bill C-327, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act (reduction of violence in television broadcasts), introduced by my colleague the hon. member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie. Allow me first to congratulate him on the importance of this legislation that was inspired by his personal experience. The effect violence in television had on his child pushed the hon. member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie to do something concrete, positive and brave.

The small screen holds a significant place in our lives. It contributes to defining our identity. Childhood memories of television are lasting and young watchers are impressionable. That is why it is right to be concerned about the quality of programming being offered to children, especially since according to Canada's Report Card on Physical Activity for Children , more than 80% of youth watch more than two hours of television a day, which exceeds the maximum recommended by medical organizations.

This bill reminds broadcasters that they, like the public, have certain responsibilities and that through attractive and modern formats they can leave more room for positive models that can provide young people with inspiring examples. I am thinking in particular about the athletes that Luc Dupont, marketing expert at the University of Ottawa communications department, recently described as dream sellers. I would add that they also sell hope: athletes from the Alouettes and the Canadiens give sick children the courage to hang on, simply by visiting them in hospital.

Not so long ago, Julie, a constituent from Varennes, told me the story of her little boy. Samuel, inspired by the champion Shawn Sawyer, asked his mother to sign him up for figure skating lessons and this year he won two medals in that discipline. I am convinced that this simple story of emulation is a reality experienced by many families.

Athletes can inspire change in lifestyle habits, which is not just desirable but also urgent. The number of young people who are physically out of shape has increased dramatically over the past few years.

This fall, a study on the physical activity of young people in Canada showed that at the age of 13, 10% to 21% of girls never participate in continuous activities. The rates are almost as high with boys. Even worse, at 15, 18% to 34% of girls do not participate in any activity that gets their heart pumping, and the same goes for 10% to 27% of boys. There are consequences to this inactivity, since according to the Association pour la santé publique du Québec, 15% of young Quebeckers are overweight, and 7% are obese.

Ultimately, there needs to be a plan to reduce the number of hours spent in front of the television and to increase the amount of physical activity.

At the federal-provincial-territorial conference of ministers in charge of sports, physical activity and leisure, which was held in Whitehorse in February, and which I had the privilege of attending, a presentation from the Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institute confirmed that children are not active enough, to the point that their growth and development are compromised.

In order to address this worrisome situation, would it not be good to take this opportunity to offer positive role models on television to children, instead of violent images and behaviour, which are hardly part of a healthy lifestyle?

Making people responsible is no longer a long-term solution to the problem of children who are out of shape or obese. It is about time that we take action with respect to their environment. This is what was recommended in a study carried out jointly by the Institut de la statistique du Québec and the Institut national de santé publique du Québec, entitled “Excès de poids dans la population québécoise de 1987 à 2003”. This study concluded that:

—behaviour related to nutrition and physical activity...is not really the result of a person's free choice, but rather a response to environments where there is a mix of powerful economic, cultural and political forces.

The fact is—it can hardly be denied—that television is an economic, cultural and political force. It is therefore imperative to mobilize all players in the television industry to achieve the widest possible consensus around the major public health issue that sedentary living represents.

Instead of trying to put the blame on someone, we should use television and the power it obviously has to influence, to change attitudes and bring about the necessary behavioural changes. Members will recall that, following the Montreal Olympics and the outstanding display of grace and flexibility of Nadia Comaneci, in 1976, gymnastics enjoyed a sudden surge in popularity. At the time, the CBC had innovated, providing viewers with some 12 hours of television coverage per day, thereby allowing the public to familiarize itself with many little-known sports. The power of an image is such that it can foster callings in sports. The medals won by athletes like Gaétan Boucher and Marc Gagnon have helped Quebec become a real breeding ground of elite speed skaters.

Conversely, there were also a number of unfortunate incidents involving young children who sustained serious injuries trying to imitate professional wrestling stars. A few years ago, the TVA network, a private broadcaster in Quebec, decided to take off the air these types of shows which had until then been a staple in Sunday morning entertainment.

But that type of program is a far cry from Les Héros du samedi, which was a television show from my childhood. Everyone I meet in the context of the sporting events I attend as spokesperson for my political party seems to agree that that program served as an excellent showcase and was a great initiative on the part of Radio-Canada. That program unfortunately disappeared over 15 years ago, and many people are asking themselves what the public broadcaster is doing today to diffuse positive sports messages.

In February, Sports-Québec appeared before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage to present its position regarding the role of a public broadcaster in the 21st century. The evaluation of the situation by this key player in the Quebec sporting community is clear and unmistakable. When it comes to the broadcasting of Quebec's French-language organized sports, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has almost completely failed to fulfill its responsibilities, to such an extent that French-speaking viewers are now forced to turn to the public broadcaster's English network. This situation is unacceptable, as indicated by Sports-Québec:

For increasing numbers of young [Canadians] who want to have sport in their lives today and tomorrow, we must stimulate them and give them models. However, this right to hear about those of our athletes who inspire them is as legitimate for young francophones as it is for anglophones.

Since sports are an integral part of culture, Sports-Québec has concluded that the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is not adequately fulfilling its role and recommends, among other things, that the legislated mandate of the CBC/Radio Canada, “include the responsibility to contribute to the promotion of healthy living habits ... ”, that the CBC/Radio Canada “produce and broadcast promotional material on improved physical fitness” and that “programming for children and youth include segments popularizing healthy living habits”. Thus, Sports-Québec is laying the foundation for a responsible image of sports, particularly organized sports, on public television.

As parliamentarians, it is our responsibility to create the conditions within our society that facilitate and promote the development of our children and youth. What role models would we like to give them? What kind of demonstrations should we present? These are important questions and Bill C-327 opens the door to television programming that will promote values to contribute to the development of the people watching. The bill does not propose censorship of television. Rather, as indicated by this bill's sponsor last January, it is about adjusting broadcasters' programming to ensure they respect all members of the viewing public.

The House resumed from January 30 consideration of the motion that Bill C-327, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act (reduction of violence in television broadcasts), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Bill C-327Statements By Members

April 20th, 2007 / 11:10 a.m.
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Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, today, we are debating Bill C-327, which I am sponsoring in the House of Commons and which aims to reduce violence on television.

Eight years ago today, on April 20, 1999, the Columbine shooting took place. Closer to home, we also remember the tragic events at Dawson College on September 16, 2006, and the massacre this week at Virginia Tech University. Such events remind us of the importance of reducing violence in our society and especially on television.

A recent study by the communications department at Virginia Tech shows that someone who is exposed to violent programs and movies for a certain number of hours could decide to commit acts of violence to settle disagreements with others. It is therefore our duty as parliamentarians, citizens and parents to make sure our children can live in an environment where violence—which realistically cannot be completely eliminated— is better monitored and less accessible to children.

I invite my colleagues to vote in favour of Bill C-327.

April 19th, 2007 / 10 a.m.
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Conservative

Jim Abbott Conservative Kootenay—Columbia, BC

This has been a very productive day, and I thank you for your testimony, particularly with the debate on Bill C-327 coming up tomorrow.

If I may, I'd like to return briefly to the actual purpose of our hearing today, which was the “full investigation of the role of a public broadcaster in the 21st century”, and that is certainly not a criticism of your response to the questions; your response has been very helpful.

My question is whether, in your judgment, it would be of value for the CBC to join the other 690 stations and become a member of the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council--not under the control of it , but taking some direction from it.

I realize your answer could be taken and construed as being self-serving, and I hope that readers of this transcript will not take it that way. I'm asking that question because it seems to me that if there are standards on public broadcasters, they have the eyes and ears of exactly the same people as would be watching the CBC, and it strikes me that we might be lacking some continuity here.

April 19th, 2007 / 9:35 a.m.
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NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Thank you for your presentation this morning. It was very interesting.

The other day at the hearings I said that I find news reporting in all private broadcasting to be at a very high standard. When I watch, I see a level of journalistic independence and impartiality.

I am interested in this discussion of violence. You referred to Bill C-327, and I had spoken to it. The example you gave was the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I have to confess that all my daughters went to see the movie the other night. They're big fans of the ninja turtles. Growing up, they watched the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles all the time. I never thought that watching it would turn them into gangbangers.

So when we talk about what kind of violence there is on television, there are issues of degree. So we take a stand on ninja turtles, and yet to use the example in Bill C-327, Fear Factor, I was watching it with my daughter. The scenario was that a little girl was chained up and covered in Moroccan hissing cockroaches. The mother had to bite off the cockroaches with her mouth while the kid screamed.

That was in prime time, but it's A-okay, because at the end of the show, if the mother gets enough cockroaches off in time, she wins—I don't know—a Mazda, a ten-speed bike, a plasma television, or something. So child abuse for entertainment in prime time is okay, as long as the mother wins a prize at the end.

Fear Factor shows on Global, which is a Canadian network. What standards do you have for dealing with shows like that?

April 19th, 2007 / 9:30 a.m.
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Bloc

Maka Kotto Bloc Saint-Lambert, QC

Others hold a contrary opinion, but I respect your point of view. Bill C-327 is intended to counter the presence of violence on television, and not to diminish the number of complaints on the subject. I want to be fair and balanced. Do you understand? The intent of the bill is not to decrease the number of complaints concerning violence on television, but to decrease the violence in televised newscasts, particularly those showing events in Afghanistan or in Irak, at times when children would still be watching television.

You spoke of cartoons that have violent components. We could potentially discuss classification in order to assess the scope or the significance of the violence. And yet, current studies show that as far as video games are concerned, whether it be Nintendo, Xbox or others, children who are naturally non-violent develop an aggressive behaviour after having been exposed to these games. This violence may not go so far as to result in criminal behaviour as we have just seen in Virginia, in the United States, but it does exist. It is the parents who are complaining and who have always complained about this violence. That is in fact what inspired the bill. In any case, that is not the issue.

Returning to the CBC: are you aware of the substance of the Convention on Cultural Diversity passed by UNESCO and which Canada was the first to ratify?

April 19th, 2007 / 9:25 a.m.
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National Chair, Canadian Broadcast Standards Council

Ronald Cohen

At least one aspect is quite telling. From the time Virginie Larivière presented her petition to Prime Minister Mulroney, when violence on television was a fairly significant concern—and when there were a lot of children's programs containing violent elements, including Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, G.I. Joe, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and programs of that genre—violence was a concern.

After the petition was presented, broadcasters took an active position in revising the violence code of 1987, frankly in order to make it more effective and focus more on children.

I find it interesting that one of the things noted in Bill C-327 has been in existence since January 1, 1994. This is very specific, and the most advanced provisions anywhere in the world, I suggest, for dealing with children's programming.

This is only a partial answer to your question, but the point is that since that code has come into effect, the number of complaints relating to violence on television has actually decreased significantly.

We noted that in going back to 2001, there was a diminution of about 37% in the number of complaints relating to violence on television.

I suggest that it's a diminishing problem in the television area, which is a very specific answer to what you're asking. It has become a less important issue, because honestly it's so well dealt with by the system that we now have in place.

To complete the answer, I should say that other issues are rising a bit more. I think that the presence of sexual content on television and coarse language on television and radio are issues on the increase.

Teisha, I don't know if you have any disagreement.

Those tend to be on the increase a bit, but again one of the important protections we have is the watershed hour. It was originally created in the violence code to deal with violence intended exclusively for adults. We have expanded this, so that all forms of programming, including sexual content, coarse language, and adult themes, are relegated to the post-watershed hour and must be accompanied by viewer advisories, and so on. But there are increases in that.