Classification and protecting community standards on subscription television.
- Classification of Programs on Subscription TV
- Policy Developments
- Classification Training
Classification of Programs on Subscription TV
Under the Broadcasting Services Act 1992, the primary responsibility for ensuring that programs broadcast on subscription television (STV) reflect community standards rests with the STV platforms and channel providers, under a system of industry-developed codes of practice.
ASTRA has developed the subscription television codes in consultation with the federal government regulator, the Australian Communications Media Authority (ACMA). Classification Requirements are dealt with under the Subscription Broadcast Television and Subscription Narrowcast Television Codes of Practice (ASTRA Codes).
Under the ASTRA Codes, programs on STV are classified according to the National Classification Code using the Guidelines for the Classification of Films and Computer Games. The Guidelines contain descriptions of each of the categories, indicating the most suitable audience. Each classification category contains a list of the criteria (classifiable elements) used by Classifiers when making classification decisions. These Guidelines are also used by the Classification Board, the Commonwealth body responsible for the classification of theatrical films, DVDs, video, computer games and certain publications
Classification markings are the coloured classification symbols and words that represent each of the classifications: G, PG, M, MA 15+ and R 18+. Electronic copies of the classification marking are available to download from the Classification Board website (link below).
Australian Law Reform Commission National Classification Scheme Review
The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) conducted a review of classification in Australia. The review considered changes in technology, media convergence and the global availability of media content. Terry Flew, Professor of Media and Communications at the Queensland University of Technology led the review. The Final Report of the ALRC inquiry into the National Classification Scheme was tabled in Parliament on 1 March 2012. Key recommendations included:
- A new Classification of Media Content Act incorporating all classifications applying to all media content that is both “made and distributed on a commercial basis” and has “a significant Australian audience”, which would operate solely under Commonwealth jurisdiction and replace the existing Federal-State cooperative arrangement; and
- A single regulator to administer the new Scheme, including the handling of complaints, authorising industry classifiers and providing classification training.
The Government is considering the Report's recommendation. For further information see the ALRC Website.
ASTRA submissions to the ALRC Review:
Inquiry by the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee into the classification scheme
On 23 June 2011, the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee tabled its final report into its inquiry into the national classification scheme. The report is available on the Committee’s website.
ASTRA made a submission to this review in March 2011.
The Classifications Operations Branch (COB), part of the Attorney General’s Department, provides a content assessment training course which covers general classification training for content under Schedule 7 of the Broadcasting Services Act. Information on the Trained Content Assessors (TCA) course can be found here.
The STV industry and the Attorney-General’s Department have worked to develop a content assessor course tailored for the needs of STV. Known as the TCA-TV course, all STV employees who are involved with the production and scheduling of programs and program promotions should attend.