TV watchdog nixes domestic abuse ads

TV watchdog nixes domestic abuse ads

CALGARY — HomeFront Society has been denied access to local television for its public awareness campaign to promote awareness of domestic violence. Airing of these announcements were blocked by the Television Bureau of Canada which deemed them too graphic according to their Telecaster Guidelines. Failing to receive TVB approval, local Calgary televisions stations have decided not to run the HomeFront ads as a public service.

The agency has appealed to the Canadian Radio & Television Commission to overule the Television Bureau which is a television industry group. In its appeal the HomeFront pointed to violent scene of The Sopranos in which a pregnant woman is beaten to death by her boyfriend. The organize suggests that scenes such as this normalize domestic violence. Meanwhile the ads can be viewed on the HomeFront’s website

The statement to the Commission says the ads aim “to denormalize abuse by contrasting violence with situations where it is obviously not normal.”

The spots were designed by Ogilvy & Mather Calgary and were the subject of a yearlong public consultation process which included the Calgary Police Service. Bonnie Knox, HomeFront’s Project Director, explained the motive behind the approach.

“Many people dismiss abusive behaviours in their homes as normal and do not recognize that assaultive actions are still criminal actions even when they occur in intimate relationships. Criminal behaviour would not be tolerated in a public place and should not be tolerated in the home.” Phil Copithorne, Ogilvy’s Creative Director said that “there is no comfortable way to bring this message to air. It is an uncomfortable topic that most want to ignore. To get the message across an accurate and truthful depiction of violence was required.”

HomeFront points out that calls related to domestic problems are the largest single matter dealt with by Calgary Police Service. However, an opinion survey commissioned by the Police indicated that residents were hardly aware of domestic violence as a problem. They were much more concerned with break and enter situations.

Because the public awareness campaign was built on the emotive impact of the television spots, HomeFront has decided to call off the rest of the public awareness campaign until the creative strategy can be revised.

HomeFront operates programs that combine legal sanctions and treatment, designed to break the cycle of abuse and Through the Domestic Violence Court, HomeFront brings together social services agencies, law enforcement and the criminal justice system to provide a response for those involved in domestic violence. The program includes treatment for offenders when mandated into domestic violence treatment by the criminal justice system.

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