All media in Australia should be classified, and censored, in the same way, according to a landmark report published today.
Conducting the first review of Australia’s classification laws in 20 years, the Australian Law Reform Commission found that the rapid rise of new forms of media had overtaken existing classification laws.
The review would have far-reaching implications for Australia’s media. Radio and television broadcasters are subject to regulation by the Australian Communications and Media Authority. Television broadcasters are also subject to guidelines under the Commercial Television Code of Practice.
The report recommended:
- One set of laws establishing obligations to classify or restrict access to content across media platforms.Clear scope of what must be classified: feature films and television programs, as well as computer games likely to be MA 15+ or higher, that are both made and distributed on a commercial basis, and likely to have a significant Australian audience.
- A shift in regulatory focus to restricting access to adult content, by imposing new obligations on content providers to take reasonable steps to restrict access to adult content and to promote cyber-safety.
- Co-regulation and industry classification, with more industry classification of content and industry development of classification codes, but subject to regulatory oversight.
- Classification Board benchmarking and community standards, with a clear role for the Classification Board in making independent classification decisions that reflect community standards.
- An Australian government scheme that replaces the current co-operative scheme with enforcement under Commonwealth law.
- A single regulator with primary responsibility for regulating the new scheme.
Professor Flew of the ALRC said:
Classification criteria should also be reviewed periodically, to ensure they reflect community standards,
One category that may no longer align with community standards is ‘Refused Classification’ or ‘RC’. The scope of this category should be narrowed, and the ALRC suggests changes for government to consider.
[So it is recommended that hardcore porn be legalised for sale across Australia with self classification by the industry. But all this in return for the adult industry taking on board strict conditions to ensure that the material is not sold to under 18s. In fact, any such restrictions will apply equally to softcore and even mainstream R18+ horror films for adults].