CTV has pulled an ad for a Christian ministry offering to cure homosexuality after receiving numerous complaints from viewers.
The ad by the Ontario-based Life Productions Ministry ran seven times between Mar 3 and 5 on the network's Sudbury station before CTV yanked it.
The 30-second spot features a lone man talking to the camera.
"You hear about gay rights, gay marriage and the gay lifestyle being taught in our public schools to children," he says. "But what many people don't realize and seldom hear about is that many homosexuals don't want to be homosexual. What many who are struggling with homosexuality don't realize and seldom hear is that they can change. I should know. For 13 years I used to be one."
The ad sparked an immediate deluge of complaints to CTV, aided by the formation of a Facebook group.
"We did try to act as quickly as possible on this," says Scott Henderson, CTV's vice-president of communications. "It was something that was taken very seriously at the highest levels of CTV. It's completely against all of our own codes."
Henderson says the ad was screened by Telecaster Services, an independent company formed by Canada's private broadcasters to preview and rate ads.
"Telecaster said the ad was rated 'mature' — I'm not sure what that means — and there would have been some comment on the content. For some reason that we're still investigating that information was not received by the station in Sudbury."
The website of the Life Productions Ministry contains a section on homosexuality headed by a quote from John 8:32: "And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free."
The site then proclaims that "Homosexuality can be cured!" and asks "Are you a homosexual? Do you know someone who is?" It invites homosexuals to contact the ministry which will "direct you to the resources you or your loved one needs to overcome homosexuality."
Henderson says the ad was only scheduled to run in Sudbury.
Comments on the Facebook group pointed out that CTV is the media sponsor of Toronto Pride and suggested that airing the ad was bad for business. One respondent wrote that the ad aired during an episode of Medium and thought it might affect the show's viewership.
"Three out of the four people I know who watch that show are gay," she wrote.