Violence on television

Entry into force: 16 November 2007


1.1 TFO recognizes the influence of television on viewers' attitudes and behaviours. Aware of its responsibilities as a broadcaster of educational programming, TFO shares the public's concerns about the impact of the depiction of violence on viewers, particularly children and youth.

1.2 For this reason, TFO is committed to ensuring that the depiction of violence remains an exception on its network and to doing everything possible to keep it to a minimum. The depiction of real or fictional violence is justified only when it is necessary to provide a complete and realistic account of certain events.

1.3 With respect to children, TFO is committed to producing and acquiring quality, non-violent programming that promotes social values and socially acceptable behaviour among children of all ages, for both educational and entertainment purposes.

1.4 In addition, TFO is committed to continuing to devote significant blocks of programming to the broadcasting of non-violent programs aimed at children, at times of the day when they constitute the majority of the audience and at times best suited to their age and needs.

1.5 TFO recognizes the cultural and social diversity of Ontario's population and agrees that responses to the portrayal of violence may vary according to cultural background, social environment, age, gender and sexual orientation. TFO accepts the results of research studies that consistently demonstrate that groups such as women, youth and seniors, and certain racial minorities are represented in television programming as being the groups most affected by violence.

1.6 For this reason, TFO will limit programming in which violence against these and other groups is portrayed. Where the depiction of violence against these groups is shown or is the subject of a program, TFO will ensure that such depiction is limited or is an integral part of the program.

1.7 TFO recognizes that violence can take many forms, including subtle forms of verbal or mental abuse. Children are particularly sensitive to any form of abuse, neglect, rejection and threat to children in television programming. For this reason, TFO has adopted a definition of abuse that takes into account both physical and psychological aspects:

"Abuse is a violation of the physical, psychological or social well-being of a person or group. It can be obvious or subtle. "(Royal Commission on Violence in the Communications Industry, 1977).

1.8 In all matters relating to its programming, TFO complies with the Broadcasting Act, 1991 and the Television Broadcasting Regulations, 1987.

i. Under the Broadcasting Act, 1991

- the programming offered by broadcasting undertakings should be of high quality; (Article 3(1)(g)).

- licensees of broadcasting undertakings assume responsibility for their programming; (section 3(1)(h)).

ii. According to the Television Broadcasting Regulations, 1987, Section 5 (1)

It is forbidden for the holder to broadcast :

a. anything that is contrary to law;

b. abusive comment or abusive pictorial representation that, when taken in context, tends to expose an individual or a group or class of individuals to hatred or contempt on the basis of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability;

c. any obscene or blasphemous language or image.

1.9 Like the CRTC and other broadcasters, TFO recognizes that violence on television is only a small part of a much larger problem, that of violence in society. TFO further recognizes that violence on television is a complex problem, compounded by issues of freedom of speech and censorship, as set out in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.


Tolerance of violence differs according to moral and political views, personal experience and social behaviour, which itself varies over time and as society evolves. The emotional response to the portrayal of violence and its impact on viewers also varies and is difficult to assess. Given this sensitivity, TFO will ensure the following:

2.1 Any depiction of violence is justified by the context of the program.

2.2 Under no circumstances shall the depiction of violence be gratuitous or enhanced, and under no circumstances shall the events in question be gratuitous or enhanced.