Canada's new TV classifications revealed

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OTTAWA -- A new TV classification system, similar to the U.S. TV code, has been proposed for Canada and is likely to be up and running by September.

A six-level rating system has been proposed by The Action Committee on Violence on Television, which delivered its report and recommendations to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission on April 30. The reports details have only just been made public.

The proposals include: C for children under 8, where any suggestion of aggressive behavior is limited to portrayals that are clearly imaginary; C8+ for children over 8, where realistic depictions of mild and infrequent violence would be allowed; FAM for all ages, for programs containing minimal and infrequent violence, and possibly inoffensive slang; PA for Parental Advisory, where any depiction of conflict or aggression will be limited and moderate, and which may contain infrequent and mild profanity or mildly suggestive language and might contain brief scenes of nudity; 14+ for children 14 and over, where violence might be one of the dominant elements of the storyline but must be integral to the development of the plot or character, which could include strong or frequent use of profanity and might include scenes of nudity or sexual activity; and 18+ for adults, where violence, nudity and strong language are more dominant and which are intended for adult viewing.

Some programming will be exempt from the ratings including news, documentaries, talk shows, music videos and variety programming.

The classification recommendations are expected to be approved by the CRTC quickly and be put in place by this September. However, the V-chip - which enables parents to program a TV set to filter out certain classifications of programs - will not be introduced as soon since there are still some technical issues and logistical problems because the classification codes for Canada and the U.S. are still slightly different. For instance, in the U.S. the classifications go down to age 7+, versus 8+ for Canada, and the U.S. version describes adults as 17+, rather than 18+ as in Canada.

Programs will be labeled at the start of each program with icons at the bottom of the screen flashed throughout the show. Classifications will be made by broadcasters.

Copyright May 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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