No sex please, we're Canadian, rules CRTC

Broadcast bid blocked

April 4, 2021
National Post
By Scott Deveau

Federal regulators ruled yesterday that French porn may have too much ooh-la-la for Canadian TV in striking down a bid to bring the French-language equivalent of Playboy TV to the country.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission denied Videotron Ltd.' s bid to broadcast XXL, an adult content station from France, yesterday saying the station may be too racy for Canadian standards.

Videotron had planned to run XXL on four-hour loops, 24- hours a day and had applied for a special status for the French-language erotic station last May.

"We have a lot of requests from our customers to get an equivalent to the Playboy channel, but in French," said Videotron's spokeswoman Isabelle Dessureault. "This was the channel that we could find that was an exact copy."

However, the move was met by a lone objection from AOV TV, a Canadian adult content broadcaster based in Richmond Hill, Ont., which argued the foreign station would compete directly with, and may even risk putting to bed, its yet-to-be-launched French-language erotic channels, Le Canal Erotique and XXX Clips.

AOV CEO Randy Jorgensen said yesterday in an interview that some of the content broadcast on the three stations would surely be duplicated because XXL uses the same international production companies -- Vivid Entertainment Group, Peach Productions, and Adam and Eve Productions --as AOV does for its non-Canadian content.

"It would be a foreign service that would compete directly with a Canadian service," Mr. Jorgensen said.

While the vast majority of television channels in Canada are domestically owned, the CRTC does allow certain foreign-owned channels to be sponsored by Canadian broadcasters. The foreign station, however, must not be deemed a direct competitor to a Canadian provider and must adhere to CRTC standards.

Foreign-owned stations from Playboy TV to Al Jazeera have passed the test, however, both had to adhere to certain restrictions.

Al Jazeera, for example, must be monitored for hate language, while distributors of Playboy are not allowed to package it in channel bundles and must scramble it for those households that request them to do so.

But it wasn't that XXL posed a direct threat to AOV that struck down Videotron's deal, according to the CRTC.

"We denied it because it's an adult content [channel] and a foreign provider. We did not have assurances from [Videotron] that it would comply with Canadian laws," said CRTC spokesman Denis Carmel.

In order for adult material to be broadcast in Canada it must be approved by provincial boards to ensure the content is shown at an appropriate time, doesn't depict women in an overly negative way, or perpetuates stereotypes. There was no indication that XXL would violate these standards, but there was also no indication that it planned to adhere to them either.

"Videotron would have to show that every movie that was shown was approved by the board and they didn't provide that assurance," Mr. Carmel said.

Videotron's Ms. Dessureault said it would have been too difficult to run all of XXL's content by provincial regulators, but she says Videotron hasn't finished its search for a French Playboy.