The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) ruled late last month that CHUM Ltd. did not breach any code standards in airing Blind Date at 5:30 p.m on Citytv before the watershed hour of 9 p.m. However, it concluded that the sexual themes in the episodes necessitated viewer advisories since the show was aired in a daytime slot unsuitable for children. The panel also decided that the show should have been rated 14+ rather than PG. It is a reality-type program that follows couples on blind dates. An excerpt from the decision, released July 23, follows. The facts ...The CBSC’s Ontario Panel considered the episodes of February 4, 5, 10 and 11, 2003. Discussions and activities between the couple (on the show) sometimes contain sexually suggestive content and sexual innuendo. For example,...in another episode, the male participant eats a cherry out of his date’s cleavage. Also cartoon bubbles and words appear on screen containing the producers’ humorous projections of what the person may be thinking. Some of these cartoon features also consist of sexual innuendo and sexual suggestions. There are also occasionally scenes of men and women in skimpy clothing or the couples kissing passionately. Any actual nudity, however, is covered with a cartoon "Censored" sticker...An icon classifying the episodes as PG appeared on the screen at the beginning of each broadcast. There were no viewer advisories during any of the episodes reviewed for this decision. The CBSC received a complaint from a viewer dated January 24, 2003…He indicated his concern that the series’ after-school time slot was "irresponsible" since it was an "adult" program. For the purposes of this decision, the Ontario Regional Panel viewed four of the episodes highlighted by the complainant which were broadcast in early February (the dates have been noted above)... The decision The CBSC Ontario Regional Panel examined the complaint under the scheduling and viewer advisory provisions of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ (CAB) Code of Ethics, as well as the classification provision of the CAB Voluntary Code Regarding Violence on Television Programming The Ontario Regional Panel concludes that Citytv did not violate clause 10 of the CAB Code of Ethics in its scheduling of Blind Date. Citytv did, however, violated clause 11 of the CAB Code of Ethics for its failure to provide a viewer advisory during the episodes, as well as Article 4 of the CAB Violence Code for incorrectly rating the program as PG rather than 14+. Content Categories Content cannot be simply considered as falling into one of two categories, namely, either susceptible of broadcast before or after the Watershed hour of 9 p.m. Indeed, it is only the latter category that can be understood as cut and dried. Broadcasts that include material intended exclusively for adult audiences, whether by reason of its sexual, language, violent or other content, may be aired only after 9 p.m. On the other hand, broadcasts that are not forced into the post-Watershed time frame may be either suitable to all viewers, on the one hand, or suitable to all viewers except children (defined as 12 years of age or younger), on the other. There are obligations that attach to broadcasts of each category. Those that fall into the dramatic category must be rated and carry a classification icon at the appropriate level. Post-Watershed adult material must also carry a viewer advisory, as must those pre-Watershed programs unsuitable for broadcast to children. Those programs (broadcast at whatever hour) that are suitable for everyone do not require viewer advisories. Scheduling of Sexual Content In the case of the episodes of Blind Date that are the subject of this decision, the Ontario Regional Panel considers that the content is not explicit enough to push it into the post-Watershed category. It does, however, consider that the program deals sufficiently directly and unsubtly with sexual situations that it is unsuitable for children. Indeed, the content is consistently sexual, rarely even relying on less obvious double entendres. In the vernacular, it is very much "in your face". The sexual content, while not explicit (which would render it post-Watershed), would be readily understood by everyone (even though not appropriate for universal broadcast).