The Television Bureau of Canada (TVB) announces the release of new Telecaster Rating Code Guidelines which will apply to all commercials, including infomercials and public service announcements. Effective November 1, 2010, all commercials will be assigned a rating code based on the existing Program Action Group on Violence on Television (AGVOT) Ratings.

Similar to the Program AGVOT Ratings currently used by broadcasters, the new Telecaster Guidelines focus on pairing advertising with appropriate program content, rather than on the time period when the commercial will air. This is expected to give advertisers and broadcasters more flexibility in determining when and where a commercial may be broadcast.

The rating of commercials will be the responsibility of Telecaster, and codes will be assigned on approval of the commercial. The Guidelines require that commercials accurately reflect the subject matter or content of the product or service they advertise. Acceptable commercials will be assigned one of five rating codes. Commercials suitable for a general audience, containing little or no violence and only non-sexually explicit romantic involvement, will be assigned a rating of “G.” Advertising directed at children will be assigned a rating of “C.” Commercials that include scenes of violence and/or sexual themes will be rated “M/PG” (parental guidance recommended) or either “P9/14+” or “P11/18+”, indicating acceptability for viewers 14 years and over and 18 years and over respectively, depending on the maturity of the content they contain. Commercials depicting nudity, profane language or extreme violence (e.g. killing) will not be permitted.

Over a transitional period following November 1, the TVB will employ a hybrid rating system, which includes elements from the new AGVOT-based system and the current time period-based ratings systems. For example, commercials which receive a rating of “P9/14+” may air during programs classified as 14+ and 18+, or during post-9-p.m. or post-11-p.m. programming, as the broadcaster chooses.

Following this transitional period, the TVB will move to a ratings system based entirely on the AGVOT system. The duration of the transitional period has not yet been announced.