Star Trek: Discovery made Star Trek history by the dropping the first F-bomb in franchise history during the episode “Choose Your Pain.” However, airing the episode before 9 pm in Canada has landed Space in hot water with the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council.
Star Trek: Discovery streams exclusively on CBS All Access in the United States and on Netflix in most of the rest of the world. Canada is the exception. The series is broadcast on Space, a channel owned by Bell Media.
Apparently, the series is set in a time slot a little too early for the CBSC’s tastes. The Council has found that Star Trek: Discovery was in violation of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ Code of Ethics and Violence Code for airing “Choose Your Pain” earlier than 9 pm, which is when the designated hours for programming with profanity and graphic content intended for adult audiences begins.
“Choose Your Pain” included Cadet Syliva Tilly’s (Mary Wiseman) line “You guys, this is so f***ing cool,” which was then repeated by Lt. Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp). However, that wasn’t the only reason that Space was found in violation of the ethics and Violence Code as the CBSC also noted that the episode featured significant violence.
Since Space has been found in violation, the network must air the following message twice during prime time hours in the next week:
“The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council has found that Space breached the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ Code of Ethics and Violence Code in its broadcast of Star Trek: Discovery on October 15, 2017 at 8:00 pm. The program contained coarse language and violence intended for adult audiences which should only have been broadcast after 9:00 pm as required by Clause 10 of the Code of Ethics and Article 3 of the Violence Code. A classification icon should have appeared at the beginning of the program as required by Article 4 of the Violence Code.”
When the complaint was first filed, Space responded with this explanation of why it chose to air “Choose Your Pain” unedited in the 8 pm time slot.
“‘After having viewed the episode prior to airing, Space acknowledged that the use of the word ‘f***’ ‘was surprising given the series and franchises’ previous 51 year track record of being fairly clean with regards to its content.’ The broadcaster further explained that the ‘Star Trek franchise has an extremely loyal and engaged fan base so we took into consideration how the coarse language was used and we decided to air the episode uncut and uncensored in order to deliver the content our Space viewers expect.’”
Whether this ruling will affect Space’s airing of Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 remains unknown. Since Discovery streams in other markets, it doesn’t need to worry about violating broadcast standards, which means Space may run into similar dilemmas in the future. One option would be to edit episodes for broadcast, while another would be to move Discovery’s time slot back to 9 p.m.
Star Trek: Discovery Season Two is now filming in Toronto. The first season of Star Trek: Discovery is available to stream in its entirety on CBS All Access in the United States, through CraveTV in Canada, and through Netflix in other international markets.