News Release from the Action Group on Violence on Television
Action Group unveils on-screen icons for television rating system
Ottawa, August 28, 1997 - The Action Group on Violence on Television (AGVOT), today unveiled the graphic icons which English-language broadcasters will use to identify the rating of their programs, thus helping parents make informed viewing choices for their families.
The Action Group, an organization representing all elements of the Canadian broadcast, cable and production industries, received CRTC approval in June for its six level rating system that uses consistent and clear guidelines to evaluate the content of television programs. The guidelines centre on violence, but include language and sexual content as well. The content evaluation is assigned a rating according to the generally accepted stages of child development. Parents are already familiar with this approach in classifying movies, books, games, toys and other childrens' products.
All English-language conventional and specialty programming services will employ the on-screen graphic icons shown on the following pages. French language programmers, and premium services in both languages will also use on-screen displays based on their own established ratings systems, as had been agreed to by the CRTC.
The rating icon will appear for a minimum of 15 seconds in the top left hand corner of the screen at the beginning of a program. The icon will be repeated at the beginning of the second hour of longer shows. This is the same frequency currently used for viewer advisories. Most Canadian program services expect to have the icons in use by the week of September 29th. Individual broadcasters will provide program ratings data to the various Canadian television listings publications, which are being asked to cooperate with the broadcast industry in making this information available to their subscribers. The industry will be undertaking an extensive campaign to make the rating system and the icons familiar to Canadian families.
Trina McQueen, chair of AGVOT, and President of the Discovery Channel, said the on-screen icons, used in conjunction with advisories which alert viewers to sensitive content, will provide the most useful information to parents. "Canadian broadcasters have been utilizing advisories for many years to inform their viewers about violent content, as well as language, nudity or mature themes. We believe the comprehensive descriptions in these advisories, the use of which is also mandated by industry Codes, will, along with the rating icons, provide more information to audiences than other systems" she said.
"Canadian parents will have the opportunity to use the most comprehensive and advanced parental control system in the world with the combination of the classification system, the broadcasters' codes on violence and the independent compliance mechanism of the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council" McQueen said.
The Action Group on Violence on Television is a pan-industry organization formed in 1993 to co-ordinate Canadian broadcast and cable industry strategies and initiatives to deal with the issue of violence on television. It is chaired by Trina McQueen, President of the Discovery Channel. The Executive Committee includes Michael McCabe, President and CEO, the Canadian Association of Broadcasters, Richard Stursberg, President, The Canadian Cable Television Association, and André Bureau, Chairman and CEO of Astral Broadcasting.
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For More Information:
President, Discovery Channel
Chair, Action Group on Violence on Television
President & CEO
Canadian Association of Broadcasters