Regulator permits sex toys, f-bombs on daytime TV after Quebec parent complained

Daily Brew

Canadians have come a long way since the days of You Can’t Do That On Television, the zany children’s sketch that aired throughout the ‘80s. 

The program seems particularly wholesome in comparison to what’s now being permitted to air on youth-targeted daytime television. And one program in particular, CTRL, which airs at noon on Quebec station MusiquePlus, led one parent to think exactly that — you can’t do that on television! So much so, she filed a complaint with the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC). 

The CBSC, however, didn’t exactly agree. 

The complainant was shocked to catch a few minutes of the program her children were watching, which didn’t come with any viewer advisories, aside from a rating indicating the show was intended for children ages eight and above.

[A wholesome family gathers together in 1948 in front of the fire. Getty Images]

CTRL is a show that features lively commentary on YouTube clips from three hosts, as well as original sketches. 

In the episode that the complainant caught, the f-word was used twice in English, and footage aired of a rally where people were wielding sex toys. 

“Members of the crowd were waving or throwing dildos in the air, hitting others with them and one woman was sucking on one. The majority of the footage was shown in slow motion,” read the CBSC decision on the matter. 

The first f-bomb was dropped by someone in a clip saying, “Ah, for f*** sakes!” One of the hosts also uttered the word when he was reacting to a video of an art installation, describing it as “f****ing creepy.” 

Another clip showed macaroni and cheese being stirred in a pot and making what the CBSC called a “squishy” noise. A man in the clip then makes reference to a woman’s genitals. 

The complainant described it as “the height of vulgarity.”

The council’s French-language panel admitted in a decision issued Oct. 19 that the segment featuring the sex toys was “not in the best taste.” However, the clips were not considered a violation since the sex toys were used as props and were not “sufficiently explicit.” 

In order for a show to be considered “explicit sexual content,” and reprogrammed for late-night viewing, it has to show graphic sexual acts or conversations describing the acts in detail. The macaroni clip didn’t meet that standard. 

The council also concluded that the f-word “does not have the vulgar connotation it can have in English.” They were willing to accommodate the word if it was used only on occasion and was not “used to insult or attack an individual or group.”

The station that aired the show is not totally in the clear, however. The council determined MusiquePlus didn’t post a viewer advisory warning of explicit language and sexual content during the episode in question. But MusiquePlus has since established the proper advisories, according to the council.

And as for the rating suggesting children as young as eight can watch the show, that was an error by the cable company, not MusiquePlus. The CBSC determined the station included the appropriate rating: ages 13 and up.