Adult comic material aired too early: CBSC


OTTAWA - Two episodes of Just for Laughs which aired on French-language specialty channel Canal D last fall (as, of course, Juste pour Rire) were found to be in breach of scheduling and advisory provisions according to a Canadian Broadcast Standards Council decision released today.

Canal D's broadcast of two Juste pour Rire programs: Comicographies: François Morency and an episode of Festival Juste pour rire which included a routine by Maxim Martin aired respectively on September 15 and 29, 2002, from 12 to 1 p.m. A complainant was made over the adult-oriented sexual material contained in these mid-Sunday broadcasts.

Comicographies was a humorous biographical documentary about comedian François Morency and featured clips of his performances, some of which either had a sexual element to them or contained offensive language. In one scene, Morency's stand-up routine contained remarks such as "That grosses me out […] having a penis in your mouth". The other program at issue was an episode of Festival Juste pour rire during which Martin made jokes of a sexual nature, such as the introduction of "fat-free sperm for the whore who's watching her weight" and references to then current and widely-discussed American presidential experience involving a "cigar in the vagina". In its correspondence, Astral Media-owned Canal D agreed that, because the two programs contained references to sexuality that may not be suitable for all audience members, a viewer advisory would accompany all future broadcasts of those episodes, says the CSBC decision released today.

As well, the Quebec regional panel examined the complaint under Clauses 10(a) and 11(b) of CAB's Code of Ethics, which require that broadcasters air programming intended for adult audiences between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. and provide viewer advisories during programming with mature subject matter. The panel distinguished between the two episodes and considered that: "the sexual references in the biographical episode dealing with the story of comedian François Morency […] were often brief, veiled or light-hearted and employed double entendres or other humorous devices. They were neither graphic nor explicit and did not constitute programming intended exclusively for adults. That episode was, in other words, susceptible of being broadcast in the midday time slot in which it aired," said the panel.

"This was not, however, the case with the routine by Maxim Martin, which was, in the view of the panel, lengthier, cruder and more graphic on the subjects of fellatio and presidential masturbation of an intern with a large cigar, among others. Such material is suitable only for adult audiences and must not be broadcast before the 9 p.m. Watershed hour.

The panel also concluded that Canal D breached Clause 11(b) for failing to put viewer advisories on either program, although it did take note of the "broadcaster's initiative in recognizing its obligation to correct that omission for future broadcasts of these episodes."

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