Sihota to kick violence in the revenues

By Judith Lavoie
Victoria Times Colonist
Thursday, December 9, 1999

A list of the five most violent television programs shown in B.C. will be given to Social Development Minister Moe Sihota early next year and Sihota plans to hit them in their bottom line. "I am going to go and talk to the advertisers on those programs and I hope that will have some effect on sponsorship," said Sihota, who is launching a one-ministry campaign against violence in entertainment.

Initially, he hoped the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission would help compile a list of violent TV programs, but the CRTC said it did not have sufficient staff or funding.

However, while at a forum on violent entertainment in Toronto, Sihota met representatives of the Coalition for Responsible Television, which offered to put together a list.

A couple of years ago the coalition organized a successful campaign to approach companies advertising on violent programs, said coalition co-president Patricia Herdman.

"We would talk to the advertisers directly and say 'you're selling diapers during this program' and we found the executives were very receptive," she said, adding that many advertisers are parents who want to be good corporate citizens.

Some violence shown on television or depicted in video games is shocking, she said. If pictures of dismembered or bleeding dogs were shown, there would be a public outcry, but it is apparently acceptable to show mutilated women, Herdman said. "We have teenagers watching slasher movies."

People disgusted by what they see on television should also complain individually to the CRTC, the television station and advertisers, she recommended. -- and don't allow yourself to be made to feel like a puritan freak.

"Anyone who ... complains about violence will always be told they are the only person to complain," she said.