All About The TV Industry Ratings System In The US & Canada

This section is presented as a public service to those still wondering about the ratings used for our TV shows, especially in light of the V-Chips now found in newer TV sets, as per federal laws in the US & Canada.

The US Ratings System:

Unveiled in 1996 and first implemented in January 1997, the US ratings system is used to aid parents in deciding what shows should their children watch. Here's a chart explaining the ratings:
Symbol: Meaning: Definition: Example Shows:
[TV-Y] Recommended for all children; show is produced specifically for children only "Rugrats", "Bananas in Pajamas", "Winnie The Pooh", "Dexter's Laboratory", "Scooby Doo"
[TV-Y7] Recommended for children 7 years and older; produced specifically for children "Johnny Quest", "Ren & Stimpy", "Beetleborgs", "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers"
[TV-G] Recommended for children & adults of all ages "Happy Days", "Andy Griffith", "Jeopardy!"
[TV-PG] Recommended for children & adults of all ages; parental guidance recommended for younger children "Walker, Texas Ranger", "3rd Rock", "The Nanny", "Letterman"
[TV-14] Recommended for people 14 years and over only "Saturday Night Live", "Jay Leno", "NYPD Blue", "Married With Children"
[TV-MA] (Formerly [TV-M]) Recommended for adults only "South Park", some episodes of "Jerry Springer", adult movies and shows on pay channels; "Schindler's List"
(none) Exempt News and sports shows are not rated
Note: Some sports, like wrestling, are rated, but most sports are not.

Later in 1997, the ratings board revealed more specific ratings to be used in addition to [TV-PG], [TV-14] and [TV-MA], to be used to determine the following:
Letter: To Be Used For:
V Violence
S Sexual Content
L Offensive Language
D Suggestive Dialogue
FV Fantasy or Cartoon Violence
(used in addition to [TV-Y7])

For more on the US ratings system, visit the official site.

Special thanks to Ian J. Ball

The Canadian Ratings System (English):

English television in Canada uses a similar system, devised by The Action Group on Violence on Television (AGVOT). Canada's ratings are similar to the US's ratings in broadness, grouping and the number of tiers; only the labels are different. These ratings are:
Symbol: Classification: Meaning:
Children Suitable for children under 8
Children over 8 Suitable for children over 8
General Suitable for entire family
Parental Guidance Suitable for children over 8, but supervision recommended for those 8 to 13
Over 14 Suitable for those over 14
Over 18 Suitable for Adults Only (over 18)
(none) Exempt Exempt shows include news, sports, music videos, documentaries, public affairs, variety shows and talk shows.

The Canadian Ratings System (French):

The following rating system is created by Quebec's Régie du Cinéma, and used for French-language television in Canada, in addition to all videos sold and rented in Quebec, and, of course, all movies shown in Quebec theaters. The applicable shows are relatively the same as AGVOT's system, but is 5-tiered and arranged by age group:
Classification: Meaning (in French, as per "Régie du Cinéma"): Meaning (in English):
G (Visa General)
Pour Tous / Pour Enfants All ages / For Children
8 ans+ Peut ne pas convenir aux enfants de moins de 8 ans: l'accompagnement adulte est donc recommandé Recommended for ages 8 and up; parental guidance recommended for younger children
13 ans+ Peut ne pas convenir aux enfants de moins de 13 ans: l'accompagnement adulte est donc fortement recommandé Recommended for ages 13 and up; parental guidance recommended for younger children
16 ans+ Peut ne pas convenir aux moins de 16 ans Recommended for ages 16 and up; parental discretion recommended for younger ages
18 ans+ Réservé aux adultes Adults only (18 & over)
E (Non Classé)
(This one has no icon)
Émissions exemptées de classement Exempt programming (see AGVOT's chart above)

For more information on the Canadian ratings system:
AGVOT site
(where the logos came from)
Canadian Association of Broadcasters AGVOT's Report on the V-Chip Régie du Cinéma CRTC News Release

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