Policy 1.1.5: Good Taste

Effective: July 6, 1994

CBC/Radio-Canada programs should respect and reflect the generally accepted values of contemporary society.

The broadcast audience is composed of groups differing in age, environment and susceptibility, whose notions of good taste may vary substantially. The broadcaster, therefore, cannot necessarily expect to enjoy the same freedom of expression of vocabulary or of visual presentation as is enjoyed by the book publisher, or by the live theatre or movie producer, whose readers and viewers by and large make conscious choices about what they read and see. Where matters of taste are concerned, therefore, care must be taken not to cause gratuitous offence to the audience.

Examination of any sensitive subject such as religion, politics, sex or morality will probably be objectionable to some. Good taste, nevertheless, must not be taken as implying the rigid exclusion of anything that might give offence to anybody. The type of program concerned, its time of scheduling and the composition of the audience for whom it is intended should all be taken into consideration when making judgments about good taste.


As a general rule expressions which would give offence to a considerable number of the audience should not be used. Shock value is not a permissible criterion. There are occasions when the broadcast of an expression normally considered offensive may be justified. The appropriateness of such language within the context of the program must be evaluated.


Explicit scenes of nudity or eroticism must be used with a great deal of caution. Such scenes must not be unduly emphasized nor used primarily for shock or sensation.


Should a program contain material which may be disturbing to some segments of the audience and particularly children - because of scenes violence, nudity, sexual behavior, or coarse language, cautionary announcements before or during the program should be used.


CRTC Broadcast Regulations, specifically the 1986 Radio Broadcasting Regulations [par. 3] and the 1987 Television Broadcasting Regulations [par 5.(1)], prohibit the broadcast of "any obscene or profane language or pictorial representation".

These regulations also state that:

"5.[1] A licensee shall not broadcast: [...]

(b) any abusive comment or abusive pictorial representation that, when taken in context tends or is likely 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;"

Legal advice should be sought when there are doubts about the legality of broadcast material.


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