Welcome to V-Chip Canada
Canadian television broadcasters air programming that informs, enlightens and entertains. They are expected to broadcast different types of programming that appeals to a wide variety of viewer interests and tastes.
Some programming may include content that some viewers find offensive or that may not be appropriate for younger audiences. Canadian broadcasters recognize that fact, so they have created tools to help audience members make informed viewing choices for themselves and their families.
One of those tools is the V-Chip. The V-Chip and its related classification systems have been in effect in Canada since 1997. The Canadian classification system was created by the Action Group on Violence on Television (AGVOT), which was a working group made up of different associations from the broadcasting industry. For a history of AGVOT and the development of the classification system, click on History of AGVOT & Rating Classifications in Canada.
This section of the website is mostly about the V-Chip and the program classification systems, but it is worth mentioning the other tools that broadcasters have created for viewers.
Tools for Viewers
Canadian broadcasters are required to rate certain types of programming. A rating icon appears in the upper left-hand corner of the screen at the beginning of the program. The icon indicates the intended audience age group for the program. This is also sometimes called the “classification” or “classification icon”. The rating is encoded into the television signal, so it can be blocked using blocking technology.
The Watershed Period
Broadcasters shall not air programming that contains material intended exclusively for adult audiences before 9:00 pm or after 6:00 am. The period from 9:00 pm to 6:00 am is often referred to as the “Watershed period” and sometimes 9:00 pm is called the “Watershed hour”.
There are some exceptions to this rule, such as if a station in one part of the country reaches other parts of the country in different time zones, or if a Canadian station is carrying American programming via simultaneous substitution.
Broadcasters must air viewer advisories during programs that contain material intended exclusively for adults or that may be unsuitable for children, depending on the type of content and the time of broadcast. Advisories must be shown at the beginning of the program and coming out of commercial breaks. Advisories must be in audio and video formats (i.e. in voice-over and as words on screen). They should also specifically mention the type of content that viewers may find offensive, such as violence, coarse language, sexuality, etc.