Many thanks to Tisiphone for the transcript

London Free Press

April 23, 1999

By Sandra Coulson Free Press Arts &,Entertainment Reporter

A self-regulating body for the broadcast industry has moved ahead on a London father's complaint that the Xena and Hercules television series are too violent and sexual.

Fred Janzen complained to the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) about episodes he saw on CFPL-TV in February

The CBSC could have dismissed Janzen's complaint at an early review stage. Instead, the complaint win go to the CBSC's Ontario regional council for a ruling.

CBSC chairperson Ron Cohen said complaints are dismissed at an early stage for only a few reasons, such as that the complaint is too similar to one previously dealt with by the council or that the viewer is harassing the broadcaster.

Janzen said he has had support from others, especially those to whom he describes a scene from Xena in which a woman is crucified. He added he is sending out petition forms that he wants to forward to the CBSC.

CFPL-TV program director Don Mumford said the station believes the Xena and Hercules shows are suitable for the audience they are aimed at. The station places a logo in the corner of the TV screen to signal to viewers that the shows are rated for parental guidance.

"We're very sensitive to the needs of the market and the hours of programming," he said.

Mumford said since news of Janzen's complaint broke, the station has received four letters of support from viewers. Mumford said the supporting viewers prefer the current system of on-air ratings and are concerned that one person's complaint could deny the access to a program they consider acceptable.

Other broadcasters have had to edit shows that the CBSC has decided violate broadcasters' voluntary codes of conduct on violence, sex-role portrayal, ethics and journalistic, ethics.

Linda Baker, assistant director of Family Court Clinic, praised Janzen's involvement in the issue. Baker and others working in children's services are promoting Media Violence Awareness Week this week.

"One wants to applaud any initiative on the part of parents to raise awareness of this," she said.

Baker said she and her husband don't ban TV shows in their house, but they have discussed the violence, sex-role portrayal and overall reality of Xena with their 11-year-old son.

A representative of the show's producers in Los Angeles refused to comment on a single complaint.

Cohen said the council doesn't hold formal hearings like a court or public inquiry. "We don't want to be user-difficult," he said. "From the point of view of viewers and listeners, we don't want them to thing that they have to make solid legal argument."


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