Canada bill eyes TV violence


TORONTO -- U.S. dramas and films airing on Canadian television could be subject to new regulations after the House of Commons in Ottawa debates next week a bill to curb kids TV violence.

The draft for Bill C-327, introduced by Bloc Quebecois member of parliament Bernard Bigras, draws a direct link between TV violence and violence in society.

Accordingly, the parliamentary bill calls for amendments to the federal Broadcasting Act that would introduce first-time regulations on domestic broadcasters to curb TV violence, especially for TV shows aimed at children under 12 years of age.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission last held public hearings on TV violence in 1995 and followed that up with a self-policing voluntary code on violence to shield young kids from undue or excessive violence.

As a result, Canadian broadcaster Global Television was forced in 1995 to edit "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers" to comply with the new industry code.

The code also was combined with a new Canadian ratings system similar to one launched by U.S. broadcasters to classify TV programs.

But Bill C-327 contends that, despite industry codes and classification systems, instances of TV violence before 9 p.m. have "nevertheless increased," prompting the need for regulations enforceable by legal sanctions.

The TV violence debate in Canada has long focused on U.S. dramas and feature films dominating primetime schedules here.

According to Media Awareness Network, an advocacy group for Canadian teachers and parents, more than 80% of TV violence monitored on Canadian TV originated in the U.S.

Instances of homegrown TV violence comes mostly from private broadcasters, which air three times as many TV portrayals of violent acts as domestic public networks, including the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

The advocacy group also estimated that 87.9% of all violent acts air before 9 p.m., and 39% air before 8 p.m., when young kids are more likely to be watching TV.