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Shocking Episode Caught By Viewer

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CBSC Decisions
OTTAWA - The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council agreed with a Citytv viewer that the violent content shown one morning on the Maury Povich Show was inappropriate.

The episode, which was entitled "Shocking Life or Death Moments Caught on Tape" was aired June 10, 2003 at 9 a.m. and a viewer found that video footage shown during the morning, with no warnings provided to the audience, was inappropriate for an hour when children could be watching. "The Ontario Regional Panel agreed, and thus found the broadcast in breach of Articles 1 (Content), 3 (Scheduling), and 5 (Viewer Advisories) of the CAB Violence Code," says last week's CBSC release.

The panel noted that this was not a customary episode of the magazine format show, in that it included graphic segments, many of which resulted in danger, injuries or death. That made the scheduling even worse for the show's customary audience and the panel's finding was, in any event, that much of the material in the episode was intended for adults and ought not to have aired before 9 p.m. "This rendered the absence of advisories even more problematic in terms of the Violence Code's requirements," says the release.

The panel also said found the amount and the sensationalism of violence in the episode problematic.

A number of the more shocking video segments (such as a clerk being struck hard on the side of the head by a crowbar during a robbery) were repeated at normal speed and in slow motion and were then employed again as teasers going into the commercial breaks. "While the host himself did from time to time provide some indication of the upcoming content, he did this more as a 'teaser' to attract audience than as an alert to viewers that they might find any of the content disturbing," says the release.

"It rather considers that much of the violence in the episode was, by reason of the creators' editing decisions, gratuitous," said the Ontario regional panel. "This results primarily from the decision of the program's producers to replay all of the shocking videos time and again, even repeating them in slow motion to ensure that viewers missed no tragic moment, and finally airing them as teasers going into commercial breaks.

"The Panel also notes that there was nothing didactic in the episode. There was no theme which related to the avoidance of dangerous actions, which could lead to injurious consequences. The program simply consisted of the threading together of shocking footage, linked by the serendipitous capture on video of shocking and tragic circumstances."
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