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Senate Select Committee on Community Standards Relevant to the Supply of Services Utilising Electronic Technologies

REPORT

on

R-RATED MATERIAL ON PAY TV

PART 1

February 1995

ί

PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

Senate Select Committee on Community Standards Relevant to the Supply of Services Utilising Electronic Technologies

REPORT

on

R-RATED MATERIAL ON PAY TV

PART 1

February 1995

© Commonwealth of Australia 1995

ISBN 0 642 22520 6 (set)

ISBN 0 642 22521 4 (pt. 1)

This document was prepared from camera-ready copy prepared by the Secretariat of the Select Committee on Community Standards Relevant to the Supply of Services Utilising Electronic Technologies, and printed by the Senate Printing Unit, Parliament House, Canberra.

RECOMMENDATIONS

(1) The Committee, having regard to the following matters:

(i) the community's concerns about the levels of violence in the media, especially depictions of sexual violence, and of realistic and degrading, demeaning or exploitative sexual material;

(ii) the contradictory views expressed about the effects of such depictions on attitudes and anti-social behaviour; and

(iii) the lack of clarity of the R classification which permits an excessively broad range of material to be permitted within its definition;

recommends that R-rated material be not permitted on pay TV.

(2) The Committee also recommends:

That the Office of Film and Literature Classification undertake a comprehensive overhaul of the R classification to define with greater precision the criteria to be used in rating violent, sexually violent, realistic and degrading, demeaning or exploitative sexual material, taking into account its

intensity and extensiveness, to ensure its appropriateness for viewing in the home environment.

When the Attorney-General has tabled a revised R classification, the Committee will reconsider its recommendation.

a) whether a code of conduct reflecting community standards should be observed by providers and carriers of commercial information or observed by providers and carriers of commercial information or entertainment services utilising

electronic technologies and if so, its content, monitoring and enforcement;

b) whether it is appropriate to control the provision of certain commercial information or entertainment services utilising electronic technologies, or to control access to such services, or both, and, if so, how control would best be achieved;

c) the suitability of the continued provision of commercial recorded information or entertainment services carried by Telecom Australia including 0055 and Discovery Services;

d) whether the content of pay TV, were such a service to be introduced, should include material which would be classified in the "R" or "X" categories, under existing legislation relating to classifications;

e) the quality and adequacy of the extensive, Australia-wide qualitative and quantitative research conducted, and to be conducted, by the Australian Broadcasting Authority, on:

(i) community standards of taste and decency in relation to classifications for pay television;

(ii) what levels of violence and depictions of sex should be allowed; and

(iii) what other matters should e included for viewing for adults and children in the various classifications; and

f) whether, considering the existing regulatory arrangements, at both State and Commonwealth levels, used to regulate all film, video, literature and other publications, similar arrangements are, or should be, applicable to regulating the

provision of commercial information or entertainment services utilising electronic technologies.

V

COMMITTEE MEMBERSHIP

Chairperson: Senator the Hon. M. Reynolds (ALP, Queensland)

Deputy Chairman: Senator J W Tierney (LP, New South Wales)

Members: Senator V Bourne (AD, New South Wales)

Senator B R Burns (ALP, Queensland)

Senator B Cooney (ALP, Victoria)

Senator B Harradine (IND, Tasmania)

Senator J Herron (LP, Queensland)

Senator S Loosley (ALP, New South Wales)

SECRETARY

Michael McLean The Senate Parliament House CANBERRA ACT 2600

Telephone (06) 277 3545 Facsimile (06) 277 5809

vii

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Page

Recommendations iii

Terms of Reference v

Committee membership vii

Table of Contents ix

List of Abbreviations xi

PREFACE

Background xiii

Conduct of the current inquiry xiv

Structure of the report xiv

Matters for further consideration xv

Acknowledgements xvi

CHAPTER 1 - INTRODUCTION 1

Terms of reference 1

First R-rated material inquiry The Government's response to the June 1992 report The current inquiry Attitudinal research by the Australian Broadcasting Authority Description of pay television services in Australia 11

Content regulation of pay television 12

Description of the classification system 13

History of the R classification 18

International experience of R-rated or equivalent material 20 on pay TV

CHAPTER 2 - THE COMMUNITY ATTITUDE TO R-RATED MATERIAL ON PAY TV 23

Views expressed by the general public 24

Views of church groups 26

Views of groups representing "families" 26

Views of groups representing "children" 27

Women's groups 28

Media commentators 30

Views of the professions 32

Industry views 33

ix

- j cn to

CHAPTER 3 - RESEARCH INTO THE EFFECTS OF R-RATED 35 MATERIAL ON ITS CONSUMERS

The Debate Over Effects 35

Anecdotal and Other Research Evidence 43

Attitudinal research 43

Anecdotal evidence 45

Case studies 45

Compounding effect 49

The effects of "pornography" 51

Effects on children 55

Harm to children 60

Summary 64

CHAPTER 4 - THE DEFINITION OF R-RATED MATERIAL 67

Background 67

Single classification system 70

Prior Committee considerations 71

General Comment On The Guidelines 75

Refusal of classification to R-rated material 75

Classification issues 78

Violence and sexual violence 81

Depictions of sexual activity 82

A New Classification System 83

Summary 85

CHAPTER 5 - EFFECTIVENESS OF DISABLING DEVICES 87

Background 87

Description of disabling devices 88

Usefulness of disabling devices 90

Parental responsibility 93

Likelihood of using disabling devices 96

The legal liability of parents 97

Other controls for pay TV 98

Summary 99

APPENDIXES

Appendix 1: List of submissions 101

Appendix 2: List of witnesses at public hearings 103

Appendix 3: Government response of 25 November 1993 109 Appendix 4: Attitudinal studies 115

Appendix 5: International experience of R-rated or equivalent 123 material on pay TV Appendix 6: Guidelines for the classification of films 139

and videotapes

Appendix 7: Telecom Australia briefing note: 143

Parental Control Provisions for Pay TV

Page

x

LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS

ABA Australian Broadcasting Authority

ABT Australian Broadcasting Tribunal

ABS Australian Bureau of Statistics

ACTAC Australian Children's Television Action Committee

ALRC Australian Law Reform Commission

AUSTEL Australian Telecommunications Authority

BBFC British Board of Film Classification

CAST Confederation of Australian Subscription Television

CNCL Commission Nationale de la Communications et des

Libertes (France)

CRTC Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications

Commission

CSA Counseil Superieur de L'Audiovisuel (France)

FBI Federal Bureau of Investigations (USA)

JSCVM Joint Select Committee on Video Material

MBS Multipoint Delivery System

NAPCAN National Association for the Prevention of Child Abuse

NVLAA

and Neglect

National Viewers' and Listeners' Association of Australia

NWCC National Women's Consultative Council

OFLC Office of Film and Literature Classification

PSM Population Survey Monitor

WEL Women's Electoral Lobby

xi

PREFACE

Background

In this report the Committee seeks to assist the Senate with the decision it is required to make, under the Broadcasting Services Act 1992, on whether R-rated material should be permitted on pay television in Australia. The specific details of this requirement for a decision of the Senate are set out in Schedule 2 of the Act in

the following terms:

Part 6 - SUBSCRIPTION TELEVISION BROADCASTING LICENCES

Conditions applicable to subscription television broadcasting licences

10. (1) Each subscription television broadcasting licence is subject to the following conditions:

(g) the licensee will ensure that access to programs classified as "R" by the Office of Film and Literature Classification is restricted by disabling devices acceptable to the ABA but will not broadcast such an

"R" classified program until the ABA has completed extensive, Australia-wide qualitative and quantitative research on community standards of taste and decency in relation to classifications for pay television and on what levels of violence and depiction of sex should be

allowed, and the ABA has recommended, and the Parliament has, by resolution o f each House, approved, the broadcast of such programs [emphasis added].

On 7 December 1994 the Australian Broadcasting Authority tabled its report to the Parliament entitled R Classified Programs on Pay TV. The report details the results of the attitudinal research commissioned by the ABA as required under the Broadcasting Services Act. The Authority has made the following recommendation

for the consideration of the Parliament:

xm

R-rated material on pay TV

In all the circumstances, and taking into account:

. the findings of the ABA's commissioned research; and

. the regulatory regime provided by the Broadcasting Services Act, including

- the mandated use of disabling devices, and

- the application of industry codes of practice developed in a publicly consultative way;

the ABA recommends that programs classified as R by the Office of Film and Literature Classification be approved by Parliament for broadcast by subscription television broadcasting licensees.

Conduct of the current inquiry

The Committee issued a media release on 22 December 1993 in which it announced the launch of this inquiry into the prospect of the availability of R-rated material on pay TV, and on 17 January 1994 issued another release inviting submissions from

interested individuals and organisations. The Committee also wrote direct to individuals and organisations who could be expected to make expert input to the Committee's inquiry.

The Committee received 37 submissions, as detailed in Appendix 1, some 250 letters, and petitions containing over 11,000 signatures. The Committee has undertaken a comprehensive program of public hearings since 1991, as indicated in Appendix 2. During 1994 the Committee took evidence in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth not only from individuals and representatives who had placed submissions before the Committee for its consideration but also from a range of experts on the question of the possible connection between exposure to violent or erotic material, especially the possible effects on minors of such material, and the commission of anti-social or criminal acts. The Committee also maintained contact with the ABA on progress with its research program.

Structure of the Report

This report addresses the specific terms of reference adopted by the Committee in December 1993, as detailed in Chapter 1. While the Committee has since taken considerable evidence, in this report it has taken account of all submissions and evidence taken at public hearings since its initial inquiries into the issue of content regulation on pay TV in late 1991.

xiv

Preface

- Chapter 1 provides a general introduction to such overview issues as the Committee's previous involvement in the issue, the conduct of attitudinal research by the ABA, details of the planned introduction of pay TV in Australia, relevant details of the process through which films gain an R

rating, an outline of the history of the R classification and a summary of international approaches to content regulation of pay TV.

Each of the Committee's four main terms of reference are then dealt with in a separate chapter:

- Chapter 2 examines the community's views on the prospect of R-rated material being depicted on pay TV;

- Chapter 3 discusses the evidence on any adverse effects on consumers of watching R-rated material;

- Chapter 4 comments on the suitability for pay TV of the current definition of R in the classification guidelines; and

- Chapter 5 deals with the adequacy of disabling devices to restrict access by minors to R-rated material.

Matters for further consideration

In this report the Committee has recommended the continuation of the current moratorium on the broadcast of R-rated material, until such time as the Office of Film and Literature Classification addresses the Committee's principal concern in relation to the excessively broad range of material currently permitted to be rated

as "R" under existing classification guidelines. However, the Committee has indicated that it will reconsider its recommendation if the Attorney-General tables revised guidelines which address the Committee's concerns.

In the course of its inquiry the Committee received evidence suggesting a range of issues for its consideration in the event that R-rated material is permitted on pay TV. At the time of finalising this report, pay TV licensees were in the process of finalising the Codes of Practice applicable to the operations of the industry. The Committee wishes at this stage of its inquiry to foreshadow for the information of both the industry and the community the matters which it has had under

consideration as prerequisites to the introduction of R-rated material on pay TV.

R-rated material on pay TV Preface

The Committee is considering:

. the restriction of broadcasting of R-rated programs to certain hours;

. the prohibition of exclusively R-rated channels;

. requiring that disabling devices should specifically disable each individual R-rated program and be capable of disabling the videotaping of R-rated material;

. requiring pay TV licensees to prominently display classification and consumer advice on screen and in advertising; and

. requiring pay TV licensees to provide guarantees that subscribers to R-rated pay TV are over 18 years of age.

The Committee will comment further on these issues in its Part 2 report.

Acknowledgments

The Committee wishes to express its appreciation to all those who have taken an interest in its inquiry, and particularly to those who assisted it by providing submissions and who appeared before it at hearings. The issue has proven to be much broader than an apparently straightforward decision on whether R-rated material should be permitted on pay television in Australia. Due to the challenging input of all witnesses the Committee has been able to review a matter of fundamental importance to our society and to our community standards and, hopefully, make some contribution to improving and maintaining them.

The Committee thanks Tony Magi, Mick McLean and other staff members, whose commitment to this report greatly assisted in the completion of this inquiry.

Margaret Reynolds Chairperson

CHAPTER 1

INTRODUCTION

Terms of reference

1.1 When the Committee was first established by the Senate in the 36th Parliament on 21 June 1991 as the Select Committee on Community Standards Relevant to the Supply of Services Utilising Telecommunications Technologies, its terms of reference included the following matter:

whether the content of pay TV, were such a service to be introduced, should include material classified under the Customs (Cinematograph Films) Regulations in the' R' or 'X' categories

which on 10 September 1991 was amended to read:

whether the content of pay TV, were such a service to be introduced, should include material which would be classified in the Έ' or X' categories, under existing legislation relating to classifications.

When the Committee was re-established in the 37th Parliament on 5 May 1993, it was again charged by the Senate to consider the issue under its earlier terms of reference as amended.

1.2 On 13 May 1993, as well as amending the Committee's name to its current title, the Senate added to the Committee's terms of reference a requirement that it consider:

the quality and adequacy of the extensive, Australia-wide qualitative and quantitative research conducted, and to be conducted, by the Australian Broadcasting Authority, on:

(i) community standards of taste and decency in relation to classifications for pay television; (ii) what levels of violence and depictions of sex should be allowed; and (iii) what other matters should be included for viewing for adults and

children in the various classifications.

The full terms of reference given to the Committee by the Senate are shown at the front of this report at page v.

1

R-rated material on pay TV

1.3 In addition to its earlier work on the issue of R-rated material for pay TV, on 15 December 1993 the Committee resolved to adopt specific terms of reference in relation to the prospect of the availability of R-rated material on pay TV in Australia covering the following matters:

(a) the community's perception of and reaction to the prospect of R-rated material on pay TV in the home; (b) research into the effects of R-rated material on its consumers; (c) the definition of R-rating in the classification guidelines; (d) the effectiveness of devices designed to disable pay TV

systems from access by minors; and (e) international experience of R-rated or equivalent material on pay TV.

First R-rated material inquiry

1.4 Between August 1991 and June 1992, in the 36th Parliament, the Committee conducted an initial series of public hearings into the matter of the appropriate content standards for pay television. Details of the Committee's public hearings are shown in Appendix 2. The Committee also considered more than 2000 submissions as well as form letters and petitions dealing with the Committee's several inquiries at that time.

1.5 The Committee presented its Final Report to the Senate on 23 June 1992, the Committee's third report, which included its findings in relation to the content standards for pay TV. The Committee, which had originally been required by the Senate to complete its deliberations by 8 October 1991, a little over three months after its establishment, had been granted two extensions to its original term until 25 June 1992. The Committee's report made the following three recommendations in addressing its then terms of reference on pay TV:

Recommendation 1: That X-rated material should not be considered suitable for screening on pay television, whether provided as subscription television broadcasting services or as subscription television narrow-casting services, and regardless of the means of delivery being either telecommunications or radio-communications technologies.

2

Introduction

Recommendation 2: That the proposed Australian Broadcasting Authority conduct extensive, Australia-wide qualitative and quantitative research on community standards of taste and decency in relation to classifications for pay television, on what levels of

violence and depiction of sex should be allowed, and what other matters should be included for viewing by adults and children in the various classifications.

Recommendation 3: That, in view of the inconclusive evidence received by the Committee during its inquiry, standards for programs on pay television should be the same as those currently set by the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal for free-to-air television,

until the results of the research recommended by the Committee in Recommendation 2 become available.

In a dissenting report Senator Chris Schacht recommended that both X- and R-rated material should be permitted on pay TV, provided that licensees ensure that access to such programs is restricted by disabling devices acceptable to the Australian Broadcasting Authority.

1.6 Although the Committee had tabled its Final Report, which would normally represent the conclusion of a select committee's deliberations, Committee members expressed a desire to contribute to the development of, and to monitor, the conduct of the attitudinal research program by the Australian Broadcasting Authority which

it had recommended be undertaken. Accordingly, on 23 June 1992 the Committee Chairperson obtained an extension of the Committee's term until:

...the end of the current Parliament, so that when the results of research the Committee recommends the proposed Australian Broadcasting Authority undertake become available, the Committee

may monitor that research, have some input into it and make final recommendations when the research has been completed (Senate Hansard, 23.6.92, pp. 4333-4334).

1.7 The Committee presented its fourth report to the President of the Senate on 3 May 1993, the last day of the 36th Parliament, in which it recommended that the Committee should be re-constituted in the 37th Parliament and be empowered to continue its inquiry. The report included details of the Committee's progress in

monitoring the ABA's research, and stated:

3

R-rated material on pay TV

As at the end of the 36th Parliament, the research commissioned by the Australian Broadcasting Authority on standards for pay television is far from complete. Moreover, the Committee has had only one briefing from the ABA on the research program, and during that

briefing members of the Committee identified a number of highly unsatisfactory aspects of the research project as it was then being conducted. The Committee has not had an opportunity to have input

to the research, nor, as the research has not been completed, to make final recommendations concerning it. The ABA's target date for a final report from the consultancy carrying out the research project is 14 June 1993. (Report, Senate Select Committee on Community Standards Relevant to the Supply of Services Utilising

Telecommunications Technologies, May 1993, p. 29)

The Senate re-constituted the Committee in the 37th Parliament on 5 May 1993 and expanded its terms of reference on 13 May 1993.

The Government's response to the June 1992 Report

1.8 The Government tabled its formal response to the Committee's June 1992 recommendations, which is included in this report as Appendix 3, on 25 November 1993. However, the Committee's recommendations had been considered by the Senate during the debate on the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 and the

Broadcasting Services (Subscription Television Broadcasting) Amendment Act 1992, which were assented to on 14 July 1993 and 11 December 1992 respectively. In summary, under the Broadcasting Services Act 1992, subscription television broadcasting licensees, the operators of pay TV services, will not be permitted to broadcast a program that has been refused classification or has been classified X' by the Office of Film and Literature Classification (Schedule 2, paragraph 10(l)(f)).

Narrowcasters will need to address this matter when they develop their codes of practice.

1.9 The Act also provides that R classified programs will not be broadcast:

. until the ABA has completed extensive, Australia-wide qualitative and quantitative research on community standards of taste and decency; and

. the ABA has recommended, and the Parliament has, by resolution of each House approved, the broadcast of such programs.

Further, licensees are to ensure that access to programs classified as R is restricted by disabling devices acceptable to the ABA (Schedule 2, paragraph 10(l)(g)).

4

Introduction

1.10 As noted in the Government's response, the Bills were the subject of many amendments. The Broadcasting Services Bill 1992, an exposure draft of which had been tabled in Parliament for public comment on 7 November 1991, was presented to the Senate on 4 June 1992 by Senator Bob Collins, then Minister for Transport

and Communications. The Committee had not finalised its report on content standards for pay TV at that time. The Bill stated, in relation to R-rated material, that: (g) the licensee will ensure that access to programs classified as "R" by

the Office of Film and Literature Classification is restricted by disabling devices acceptable to the ABA.

1.11 Senator Collins wrote to the Committee Chair on 18 June 1992 to explain the Government's reasons for inserting this provision (as well as the prohibition on X- rated material) in the Bill. Senator Collins wrote:

Prohibition of X-rated material on all of these services and regulations requiring disabling devices to prevent access to R-rated material were incorporated in the Bill in response to views expressed during the

public consultation phase on the Bill...Consistent with the philosophy of the Bill, these provide the necessary community safeguards in response to expressed community attitudes.

The current inquiry

1.12 Since the Committee was re-constituted in the 37th Parliament it has continued its monitoring of the Australian Broadcasting Authority's research. The Committee has formally met with representatives of the ABA and its research consultants on five occasions and has exchanged considerable correspondence relating to the Committee's concerns about aspects of the research project, particularly the way some questions were framed. This issue is discussed in detail below.

1.13 Although it had been the Committee's recommendation that the ABA conduct the attitudinal research as a basis for the Parliament to make a decision on the acceptability of R-rated material on pay TV, by December 1993 the Committee had noted that there was constant debate both within Australia and overseas about,

particularly, R-rated material or its international equivalent containing extreme levels of violence and its suitability for release on such existing media as film and video, let alone on pay TV.

1.14 The m atter came to a head when the film Salo was released with an R rating by the Film and Literature Board of Review in January 1993, after having been refused classification for 17 years. The film contains depictions of degrading and offensive acts ranging from perverted sexual practices, such as urolagnia and

coprophilia, through to brutal violence and murder. After its inquiry into the circumstances of the film's release, the Committee tabled a report in October 1993

5

R-rated material on pay TV

entitled Report on Video and Computer Games and Classification Issues which included recommendations for substantial reform of the process for the classification of films and videos in Australia. In the Government response tabled on 22 September 1994, the Government largely rejected the Committee's recommendations for reform of the film and video classification process and, instead, pointed to the reforms agreed by the Standing Committee of Censorship Ministers as contained in the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Bill 1994.

1.15 The Senate referred the Bill to the Committee for examination on 1 September 1994. The Committee tabled its report on the Bill on 29 November 1994 in which it agreed to the Bill in the form accepted by the Standing Committee of Censorship Ministers. However, the Committee also recommended that the Attorney-General consider introducing a number of additional measures relevant to

the provisions of the Bill to enhance the applicability and operations of the classification scheme, particularly in relation to community involvement.

1.16 In the course of the Salo inquiry, the Committee agreed with the evident community concern that there may be a relationship between the availability of such material and certain violent and, in particular, sexually violent acts. The decisions of the South Australian and Western Australian Governments to ban Salo demonstrated to the Committee that Australian community attitudes were changing and that there was a possibility that the Australian classification system was not adequately reflecting current community standards.

1.17 It was also apparent to the Committee that communities internationally were re-evaluating their attitudes to depictions of violence in the media. In the United States, source of much of the contentious material, President Bill Clinton had called on members of the Hollywood film industry to reduce the levels of violence depicted in films by self-regulation. In Canada the children's cartoon, Teen-Age M utant Ninja

Turtles, had been dropped from Canadian television as stations implemented a new code that aimed to reduce violence on television. In the United Kingdom, exposure to violent videos had been cited as a possible factor in the brutal murder of a young child by two ten-year old boys. And following the implication of the childrens' television series Mighty Morphin Power Rangers in the murder of a Norwegian girl at the hands of playmates, the series has been withdrawn from broadcasting in several countries.

1.18 In the circumstances, and especially recognising the statutory responsibility placed on the Parliament to consider the ABA's report and recommendations in relation to the broadcast of R-rated programs on pay television, the Committee resolved to conduct the current inquiry. The Committee considered that it would be abrogating its responsibility to the general community if it did not examine the strongly held concerns about the content of R-rated material, and hence its suitability for pay TV, rather than simply addressing the question of public acceptability which the ABA's attitudinal surveys had sought to do.

6

Introduction

Attitudinal research by the Australian Broadcasting Authority

1.19 The Australian Broadcasting Authority was established on 5 October 1992 when the commencement of the relevant provisions of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 were gazetted. The ABA was created as the new regulatory authority of the Australian broadcasting industry by absorbing the former Australian Broadcasting

Tribunal and some of the broadcasting planning areas in the former Department of Transport and Communications.

1.20 The Australian Broadcasting Tribunal had commissioned a national attitudinal survey carried out in 1991 aimed at assessing public perceptions of and attitudes to a variety of broadcasting issues, including program classification. The survey formed the basis of a number of papers written by Tribunal staff, which were

published as a Monograph Series by the Tribunal. Both the Broadcasting Services Bill 1992 (clause 156 (g)) and the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (section 158 (g)) provided that one of the primary functions of the ABA would be "to conduct or commission research into community attitudes on issues relating to programs." The ABA was therefore seen by the Committee as the logical agency to conduct

attitudinal research into the community's perceptions about pay TV, given the interest of its predecessor Tribunal in such issues and the Authority's continuing research function.

1.21 The ABA issued a competitive tender for the conduct of the attitudinal research and in February 1993 contracted the firm Keys Young. In turn, Keys Young incorporated The Roy Morgan Research Centre Pty. Ltd. as a sub-consultant to

conduct the field work. The ABA retained Dr Kevin Durkin, Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Western Australia, as its Academic Adviser. The research brief established the main elements of the methodology for the research program, requiring the completion of a qualitative phase consisting of 10 focus

groups in urban and rural locations of two States, New South Wales and South Australia, followed by a quantitative national survey. The qualitative field work commenced on 31 March 1993 and was completed by 13 April 1993. The national quantitative survey was conducted in November and December 1993. The Committee

received reports from the research consultants on both the qualitative and the quantitative phases of the research. Neither report drew conclusions from the research, as this is the intent of the ABA's final report to the Parliament on whether R-rated material should be permitted on pay TV.

1.22 The Committee's terms of reference as amended by the Senate on 13 May 1993 require it to consider the quality and adequacy of the ABA's program of qualitative and quantitative attitudinal research in relation to the program content on pay TV. The Committee had sought this addition to its terms of reference to enable it to have some input into the development of the research program, to monitor its implementation and to make recommendations when the research had been completed. The Committee had, of course, played a major role in recommending

in its June 1992 Final Report that such attitudinal research be conducted. The

7

R-rated material on pay TV

recommendation had contributed in debate in the Senate to the insertion of the relevant provisions in the Broadcasting Services Act.

1.23 Between June 1992, when the Committee made the recommendation that the attitudinal research be conducted, and the completion of this report, the Committee had met with representatives of the ABA on five occasions and engaged in considerable correspondence. The Committee's decision in December 1993 to launch its current general inquiry into whether R-rated material should be permitted on pay TV was motivated in part by concerns it held at the time that the ABA research would not alone be a sufficient basis for a decision by the Parliament on the issue, as required under the Act.

1.24 The Committee's early concerns with the conduct of the ABA's attitudinal research project were outlined in the Committee's May 1993 Report. When the ABA first appeared before the Committee on 6 November 1992, it had been functioning for one month and was in the process of developing strategies and procedures for future operations. The ABA stated that it intended to continue attitudinal research begun by its predecessor, the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal, in 1991. At that hearing and in subsequent correspondence to the ABA's Chairman the Committee Chair had stressed the Committee's wish to be closely involved in the development and implementation of the research project.

1.25 The Committee was disturbed to learn at a hearing of the ABA on 20 April 1993 that the qualitative phase of the research had been conducted without reference to the Committee. Members of the Committee expressed dissatisfaction with aspects of the conduct of the qualitative phase, including:

. the sampling technique was open to criticism;

. the choice of New South Wales and South Australia for the sample biased the research and was not appropriate for a national survey;

. the balance between rural and urban focus groups;

. the way particular groups of parents or singles were selected;

. the number of people in the focus groups;

. the actual types of questions; and

. the particular film clips used.

Among the matters discussed in its May 1993 report, the Committee noted that the ABA had stressed the significance to the outcome of the research for participants to clearly understand what was contained within the R category and how R was

distinguished from the other categories. The Committee stated that, in this critical area, it believed that the research brief had failed.

8

Introduction

1.26 In view of the concerns held by the Committee that if the qualitative phase of the research project was seriously flawed, the subsequent quantitative phase would lack validity, it proposed to the ABA representatives at the hearing held on 20 April 1993 that the research project be brought to a halt until the Committee had

had an opportunity to examine the qualitative and quantitative design and to talk to the consultants undertaking the project. The Committee indicated that, on that basis, the project could then proceed with the Committee's agreement. The Chair wrote to the ABA on 28 April 1993 requesting, inter alia, an interim report by Keys Young summarising the results of the focus group discussions.

1.27 The Keys Young interim report was provided to the Committee and it met with representatives of the ABA and Keys Young on 13 May 1993. At the meeting the Committee agreed that work could recommence on the design of the questionnaire for the quantitative phase, subject to the Committee being consulted before its finalisation. The ABA also noted comments by some Committee members

about the inadequacy of the proposed sample of 1600 respondents to provide a national perspective. The ABA notified the Committee in August that it had decided to increase the sample size to 2400. At that stage, the ABA indicated that it proposed to complete fieldwork by the end of October 1993 with a view to tabling

its final report to Parliament in late November 1993.

1.28 The draft questionnaire prepared by the consultants was provided to the Committee by the ABA on 2 September 1993 and, the following day, an outline of the interviewing and sampling methodology to be applied by the fieldwork consultants, Roy Morgan. The Committee was also supplied with a copy of a paper

prepared by Dr Durkin about the implications of overseas debate about the content of pay TV for the questionnaire's design.

1.29 On 8 September 1993 the Committee informed the ABA of a number of concerns it held about the design of the draft questionnaire, such as the use of leading and inappropriate phraseology, which it argued could lead to a skewed result. The Committee specified six specific amendments to the draft questionnaire which it saw as required before further work on the quantitative research stage was undertaken.

1.30 There followed a series of exchanges of correspondence between the Committee and the ABA. After taking the advice of its consultants, the ABA agreed to some of the Committee's suggestions and not others. Because of the complexity of the issues raised and the technical nature of much of the discussion, the

Committee does not believe that it would be appropriate or helpful to repeat the discussion in this report. However, the Committee wishes to stress that its concerns were that the ABA's research program appeared to breach the two fundamental rules of research: that it was not measuring what it sought to measure; and that the

conclusions being drawn on the data were not valid. Thus, if the research design was flawed, it would follow that so would the ABA's conclusions be flawed.

9

R-rated material on pay TV

1.31 The process of developing the final questionnaire was assisted by the conduct of two pilot studies by Roy Morgan. The first on 25/26 September 1993 demonstrated that the questionnaire could be administered in just over 15 minutes, as designed, but also indicated problems with some of the questions. The second pilot study was conducted on 6/7 November 1993 which found that the revised questionnaire had worked well and had been clearly understood by both respondents and the interviewers, but that the average length of each face-to-face interview had increased from 15 to 18 minutes as a result of the inclusion of one additional question and the conversion of another question to open ended.

1.32 The Committee wrote to the ABA on 12 November 1993 to comment on the final proposed questionnaire, raising concerns about:

. the emphasis, focus and wording of many of the questions which had the effect of rendering the answers virtually meaningless;

. the adequacy of the description of R to be used in the questionnaire, so that respondents were fully aware of the limits of what is allowed in the classification, rather than some sort of average;

. the location in the questionnaire of questions relating to disabling devices;

. exclusion of a question about community attitudes to the content of free-to- air television, given that R-rated material contained more graphic depictions of sexual activity and violence; and

. rejecting suggestions that the questionnaire would become overly lengthy if the Committee's earlier contentions were acceded to, by suggesting other less worthy questions for exclusion.

1.33 In its reply on 15 November 1993 the ABA stated that, after consideration of the issues raised, it could not agree to the changes the Committee had requested. Its letter concluded:

The ABA believes that the research will be valid and the results will enable it to make a recommendation to Parliament as required by the Broadcasting Services Act. The research is being conducted to the highest professional standards of objectivity and we believe will give an accurate indication of community attitudes (Letter from Ms. D. Richards, Director, Programs, ABA, to Committee Chair, 15 November

1993).

10

Introduction

1.34 The Committee wrote to the ABA on 23 November 1993 to inform it that the Committee had decided not to approve the current draft of the questionnaire and sought the suspension of work on the project pending further discussions. However, on 26 November 1993 the ABA advised that it had previously notified the

Committee that 18 November had been the deadline for the research to proceed and that it had already authorised Keys Young and Roy Morgan to proceed with the fieldwork, which was due to be completed by 12 December 1993. The ABA maintained its rejection of the Committee's position, not least because of the cost

penalties of continuing delay. The fieldwork for the national survey was conducted from 21 November to 23 December 1993. The Committee was provided with a copy of the Keys Young report on 25 March 1994.

1.35 The Committee wishes to record its concern that the ABA continued with a highly flawed survey instrument. The Committee does not accept the ABA's claim of urgency given that a further 12 months elapsed before the Authority finally reported on the research, on 7 December 1994.

1.36 The Committee has outlined in Appendix 4 the major findings of the qualitative and quantitative research conducted for the ABA by its consultants. The Committee continues to have reservations about the adequacy of the ABA's research program and consequently believes that findings from such a research program could be problematic. While the ABA tabled its report on 7 December 1994, the Committee

has chosen to draw its own conclusions on the evidence of its public inquiry rather than rely on those of the Authority.

1.37 On 16 December 1993 Senator Tierney gave notice of a motion in which he sought to gain the Senate's support for the proposition that it would not agree to the broadcast of R-rated material on pay TV unless the ABA's research had been carried out in consultation with and had the Committee's approval in respect of its purpose,

scope, design, methodology, duration and publication (Notice of Motion No. 542). The notice remained unresolved at the time of completion of this report.

Description of pay television services in Australia

1.38 The Committee discussed the technological dimension of subscription broadcasting services, colloquially referred to as pay TV, in its June 1992 Final Report. On 26 June 1992 the Senate established another select committee called the Select Committee on Subscription Television Broadcasting Services, which examined

aspects of the proposal for the introduction of pay TV in Australia. That Committee reported on 16 September 1992, but did not comment on the availability of X or R- rated material.

1.39 While there has been considerable progress towards the introduction of pay TV services on a national basis in the interim, at the time of writing this report only one licensee was operating a pay TV service to Sydney and Melbourne. It is expected that pay TV services will be made available using three major technologies: satellite,

cable and Multipoint Delivery System (MDS) which uses microwave radio

11

R-rated material on pay TV

frequencies. Licences have been issued by the Australian Broadcasting Authority for services using each of these three technologies.

1.40 The Committee has not inquired in detail into the technology of deliveiy. Its major interest in the technological dimension, under its terms of reference, has been directed at the capacity of disabling devices to ensure a restriction on access by minors to unsuitable adult material regardless of which technology is employed. The Committee is also concerned, however, at the potential for Australian pay TV consumers to use their reception facilities such as satellite dishes, to by-pass domestic regulation through access to material from international, possibly uncontrolled, sources.

Content regulation of pay television

1.41 Control of the public exhibition of films or the sale or hire of a videotape in Australia is focussed at the point of sale and is therefore a matter for decision by the six State and two Territory Governments. Whether the same film or video could be shown on pay television is a quite different matter, however. Because The

Constitution gives the Commonwealth Parliament power over "postal, telegraphic, telephonic, and other like services" (paragraph 51 (v.), the Parliament has sole authority over broadcasting and telecommunications matters. As discussed below, pay television is capable of delivery using both broadcasting and telecommunications

technologies. Its regulation is therefore effectively one solely for decision by the Commonwealth Parliament.

1.42 The Committee believes that on the issue of content regulation for pay TV, while the Commonwealth Parliament has the right to unilaterally enact legislation in this area, it would be undesirable to act without reference to the relevant policies of the States and Territories. Thus, when the Committee recommended the banning of X-rated material on Pay TV in its June 1992 Final Report, it paid particular regard to the unanimous opposition of all State governments (which represent in excess of 95% of Australian citizens) to the sale or distribution of X-rated material within their States. The States' position was supported by many submissions to the Committee's inquiry.

1.43 The Committee was also conscious of the contrary view of the governments of the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory which permit the sale and distribution of X-rated material to adults on a restricted basis. Because of the effect of section 92 of the Constitution, X-rated material is able to be sold and hired by mail order from the Territories into the States, whose opposition to X material is thus undermined.

1.44 In this report, as with its 1992 Final Report, the Committee has had regard, in its consideration of whether R-rated material should be permitted on pay TV, to the policies of all State and Territory governments (and the Commonwealth Government in relation to its responsibilities in the ACT) to permit the availability

12

Introduction

of R-rated material to persons over the age of 18 years either on film at cinemas/theatres or in the home on videos.

Description of the classification system1

1.45 The Commonwealth's classification powers are based on section 51 of the The Constitution, specifically the power to regulate overseas and interstate trade, and section 122 which permits it to make laws with respect to the Territories. It has also been suggested that the Commonwealth Government could seek to utilise the

"external affairs" power in paragraph 51 (xxix.) to give effect to certain relevant international conventions but, as outlined above, such action is unnecessary where broadcasting and telecommunications technologies are involved. The existing provisions have enabled the Commonwealth Government to act in partnership with

the States and the Northern Territory on classification matters.

1.46 In particular, the Commonwealth Government has used its function as the governing body of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) to provide a centralised classification system through the Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC), an agency of the Attorney-General's portfolio, and through the introduction

of ACT legislation as a model for complementary legislation by the States and the Northern Territory. In fact, when the ACT was granted a measure of self­ government in 1988, a power relating to the classification of materials for the purposes of censorship for the ACT was retained by the Commonwealth

Government. This power was used, for example, to implement the national scheme of classification of video and computer games earlier this year.

1.47 While censorship within Australia can therefore be seen as generally a matter for the States and Territories, the Commonwealth has a particular concern with the control of material at the national border through its customs responsibilities. The Commonwealth has legislated to prohibit the importation of films and videos for

public exhibition unless they have been registered by the Film Censorship Board under the Customs (Cinematograph Films) Regulations under the Customs Act 1901. The Board may refuse to register a film if, in its opinion, the film is:

. blasphemous, indecent or obscene;

. likely to be injurious to morality, or to encourage or

incite to crime; or

. depict(s) any matter the exhibition of which is

undesirable in the public interest.

1 This section is largely based on the Office of Film and Literature and Film and Literature Board of Review Reports on Activities 1992/93 and the OFLC's March 1994 submission to the Committee; Submission No. 44/37.

13

R-rated material on pay TV

1.48 The Commonwealth's Constitutional powers have also been used to prohibit the importation of films and publications under the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations. These regulations prohibit material that:

. depicts in pictorial form a child (whether engaged in sexual activity or otherwise) who is, or who is apparently, under the age of 16 years in a manner that is likely to cause offence to a reasonable adult person;

. depicts in pictorial form bestiality in a manner that is likely to cause offence to a reasonable adult person;

. contains detailed and gratuitous depictions in pictorial form of acts of considerable violence or cruelty, or explicit and gratuitous depictions in pictorial form of sexual violence against non-consenting persons;

. promotes, incites or instructs in matters of crime or

violence; or

. promotes or incites the misuse of a drug specified in the Fourth Schedule to the Regulations.

1.49 State and Territory laws require all films and videos for commercial use to be classified. By intergovernmental agreement the Office of Film and Literature Classification (the "umbrella" Commonwealth agency which houses the Film Censorship Board and the Film and Literature Board of Review) performs, in relation to film and videos, the following functions:

. on behalf of the States and the Northern Territory it

classifies films and videos for "public exhibition" and for "sale and hire". They are automatically classified for the A.C.T.

. review of the classification decisions in relation to films and videos made under the Commonwealth powers by the Film and Literature Board of Review.

It is an accepted part of the intergovernmental agreement in support of the cooperative classification system, however, that individual jurisdictions may decide not to adopt an aspect of the scheme, a classification category or an individual classification decision (such as occurred in Western Australia and South Australia in relation to the release by the Film and Literature Board of Review of the film Salo with an "R" rating).

1.50 This "national" approach was settled in 1984, with the States and Northern Territory agreeing to follow the A.C. T Classification o f Publications Ordinance 1983,

14

Introduction

which commenced on 1 February 1984, as model legislation. The classification system which reflects these principles in State and Territory laws is:

. MA - (introduced on 1 May 1993) films considered to be unsuitable for viewing by persons under 15 years may not be: (a) sold, hired or delivered to persons under 15 years of

age other than by a parent or guardian; (b) exhibited to persons under 15 years of age unless they are accompanied by their parent or guardian.

. R - restricted to adults 18 years and over.

. X (videos only) - films containing sexually explicit material, restricted to adults 18 years and over.

. Refused classification - films containing statutorily proscribed material.

The following classifications are advisory only:

. G - general, suitable for all ages;

. PG - parental guidance recommended for persons under 15 years;

. M - recommended for mature audiences 15 years and over.

1.51 Section 25 of the A.C.T Classification o f Publications Ordinance 1983 prescribes what matters the Film Censorship Board must consider in approving films for classification. Sub-section 25 (2) states:

Subject to this section, where the Censorship Board decides that a film-la) depicts, expresses or otherwise deals with matters of sex, drug misuse or addiction, crime, cruelty, violence or revolting or abhorrent phenomena in a manner that is likely to cause offence

to a reasonable adult person; or

(b) is unsuitable for viewing by a minor,

the Board shall approve the classification of the film as an "R" film or an 'X" film.

The Ordinance then sets out the elements in a film which would be grounds for the Censorship Board to refuse a film classification. These are as follows:

15

R-rated material on pay TV

(3) The Censorship Board shall refuse to approve the classification of a film where the Board is satisfied that the film depicts, expresses or otherwise deals with matters of sex, drug misuse or addiction, crime, cruelty, violence or revolting or abhorrent phenomena in such a manner that it offends against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adult persons to the extent that it should not be classified.

(4) The Censorship Board shall refuse to approve the classification of a film that-(a) depicts a child (whether engaged in sexual activity or otherwise) who is, or who is apparently, under the age of 16 years in a manner that is

likely to cause offence to a reasonable adult person; or

(b) promotes, incites or instructs in matters of crime or violence.

1.52 To assist it in its task of classifying films into the different statutory categories, the OFLC has developed guidelines for members of both Boards to have regard to in considering the appropriate classification for any film or video. The Guidelines for the Classification o f Films and Videotapes are based on the general principles agreed between the parties to the national approach to classification in

1984, which were revised in 1988 so that:

. Adults should be free to see what they wish provided there is sufficient protection for young people, and those people who do not wish to see certain material should not have it thrust upon them.

. The classification should reflect what a reasonable adult person would consider within the acceptable limits of community standards for that age group.

. The closest attention is paid to the portrayal of violence and, in particular, sexual violence.

. Certain classes of activity, such as child sexual abuse, bestiality, and the incitement or encouragement of crime or violence are refused classification.

The guidelines relevant to the Committee's terms of reference are outlined in Chapter 4, in which the Committee examines them in detail.

1.53 It should also be noted that sub-section 34(3) of the A.C.T Classification of Publications Ordinance enables the classifiers to take account of "any literary, artistic or educational merit it may possess and to the general character of the publication, including whether it is of a medical, legal or scientific character." The

16

Introduction

guidelines do not address this concept overtly but the classifiers are provided with the basis to take account of the artistic merit of a film or the intent of the filmmaker by such terms as "unjustifiable depiction", "unduly detailed, relished or cruel" and "to

the extent that they are necessary to the narrative and not exploitative" (Evidence, 20.8.93, p.432). When the Committee examined the release of Salo, the weight given by the Film and Literature Board of Review to the intent of the filmmaker was a major element of the Committee's concerns.

1.54 Since May 1989, on the recommendation of the 1988 report of the Joint Select Committee on Video Material, films and videos classified PG, Μ, MA, R and X carry, in addition to the classification symbol, a consumer advice line. The consumer advice notifies the principle elements which have contributed to the classification of a film

or video, and may warn of the intensity and/or frequency of course language, sex scenes or violence. The OFLC has argued that, properly used, the classifications and consumer advice will allow parents in particular, but also anyone who is cautious of

what films they see, to make suitable choices for themselves and their families.

1.55 During the 1994 Spring sittings the Parliament commenced consideration of the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Bill 1994, which constituted the Commonwealth's contribution to revising the current censorship laws in co-operation with the States and Territories. The Bill was based on

recommendations of the Australian Law Reform Commission in its 1991 report entitled Censorship Procedure, which had been required by the Federal Government to report on how Australia's censorship laws could be made more simple, uniform and efficient while preserving the co-operative nature of the current scheme with the

States and Territories.

1.56 While the Bill is essentially procedural in nature and reflects the current approach to censorship, it establishes the Classification Board and the Classification Review Board, to succeed the Film Censorship Board and the Film and Literature Board of Review respectively, and sets out the procedure for classification of publications, films and computer games. Classification decisions will be made in

accordance with the National Classification Code and guidelines, as agreed to by the Commonwealth, the States and the Territories. State and Territory legislation would then adopt, in enforcement laws, the classification given to particular films and publications given under the Act.

1.57 The National Classification Code sets out the principles which, as far as possible, classification decisions are to give effect. It states that: -

(a) adults should be able to read, hear and see what they want;

(b) minors should be protected from material likely to harm or disturb them;

(c) everyone should be protected from exposure to unsolicited material that they find offensive;

17

R-rated material on pay TV

(d) the need to take account of community concerns about: (i) depictions that condone or incite violence, particularly sexual violence; and (ii) the portrayal of persons in a demeaning manner.

The Code states that films are to be classified as R that are unsuitable for a minor to see, except when they are classified as RC (Refused Classification) or X films.

1.58 At the time of writing this report, the Bill had not been resolved by the Parliament.

Histoiy of the R classification2

1.59 In 1971 the then Minister for Customs and Minister responsible for censorship, The Hon. Don Chipp, introduced the R certificate classification so that adults could have access to stronger material if they chose to do so. Prior to that time the classification system consisted only of three advisory classifications: G, A and SAG. SAO stood for "Suitable only for Adults" but with no restrictions on access. Mr Chipp said in 1971:

My decision is in accordance with my frequently expressed policy that of adopting a more liberal censorship attitude for adults while at the same time maintaining close control on material which young children

may view in cinemas ...(The Australian, 14 July 1971)

The 'R' certificate has therefore been a feature of film entertainment in Australia since 1971 when the first 'R' was assigned to the film Percy. Under the Australian Federal system it could not be shown in all States until each jurisdiction legislated to allow for its exhibition.

1.60 Later, in 1983, a classification scheme for the then new technology, 'homevideotapes', was agreed to by the Censorship Ministers. It also included the 'R' classification. Although the video classification scheme commenced on 1 February 1984 on a voluntary basis, by April 1984 Censorship Ministers had decided that the scheme should be compulsory and noted:

The meeting expressed particular concern at the sexual violence and other forms of extreme violence now appearing in videos, as compared to the more traditional explicit erotic material, and agreed that - particularly at the borderline between 'R' and 'X' ratings - the Film Censorship Board should give primary emphasis to this material ("Ministers Reach General Agreement On Video Censorship", Press Release by Attorney-General Evans, 6 April 1984).

2 The material in this section is extracted from the OFLC's March 1994 Submission, No. 44/37.

18

Introduction

It was not until the commencement of the 'homevideotapes' classification scheme in 1984 that the then Chief Censor, Mrs Janet Strickland, published guidelines for the classification of films and videos.

1.61 The Censorship Ministers met again on 28 September 1984 at the request of the Victorian Premier when they noted:

.... further widespread concerns expressed about the extent of permissible violence in existing 'M' and Έ', as well as 'X' classified, films and the case advanced for stricter guidelines being formulated in relation to violence of a gratuitous or exploitative character.

They also agreed:

....that further consideration should be given to whether the concept of an acceptable category of non-violent erotica could be developed, going beyond the existing 'R' category but excluding such limited depictions of violence as are permitted under the (then) present X'

category.

[Directed] the Commonwealth, in consultation with the Chief Censor and State and Territory officers, to prepare a detailed paper for a subsequent Ministerial meeting:

(i) outlining the proposed contents of, and arguments for, such an 'R'-t- category, and

(ii) formulating stricter guidelines in relation to violence in the 'M' and 'R' categories ("Meeting on Video Censorship", Press Release by Attorney- General Evans, 28 September 1984).

1.62 The Censorship Ministers met again in October 1984 to approve new 'reformulated' guidelines for 'M' and 'R'. The X' category, it was also decided, was to be totally free of violence. The press release from that meeting reads:

Ministers unanimously agreed to revised guidelines for the 'M' and Έ' categories designed to more strictly limit the violence permissible in each ...("New Guidelines Agreed and Recommended", Press Release by

Attorney-General Evans, 26 October 1984).

1.63 When announcing in late 1987 the appointment of a new Chief Censor, Mr John Dickie, and other appointments, Attorney-General Bowen stated: I

I am conscious of the anxiety of many members of the community about the level of violence in some films and videos. I have every confidence that the people I have appointed to these positions are also

19

R-rated material on pay TV

aware of these concerns ("New Chief Censor Appointed", Press Release by Attorney-General Bowen, 11 December 1987).

1.64 Ministers also supported calls for a tightening of the film and video guidelines in mid 1988:

The Attorneys-General also requested the Chief Censor to tighten the application of film classification guidelines so that films and videos presently at the upper limits of the M rating would be reclassified as 'R' and those at the upper end would be refused classification

("Standing Committee of Censorship Ministers", Press Release by Attorney-General Bowen, 1 July 1988).

The 1988 guidelines are those that currently apply, pending the passage of the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Bill 1994 under which the Minister, with the agreement of the State and Territory Ministers responsible for censorship matters, may determine guidelines to assist the Classification Board in its classification function.

International experience of R-rated or equivalent material on pay TV

1.65 During the inquiry, the Committee gave consideration to international experience of R-rated or equivalent material on pay TV as required by term of reference (e) adopted by the Committee in December 1994. Evidence was taken from a number of sources with regard to international classification systems, the prevalence of R-rated or equivalent material on overseas pay TV services and processes for regulating the broadcasting of such material. The Committee summarises its findings in this respect in Appendix 5.

1.66 It is clear from the Committee's examination of the practices of a number of countries that there is a variety of approaches to the carriage and regulation of R- rated or equivalent material on pay TV, with these variances a reflection of differing cultural norms and values. Most of the countries investigated, however, had some arrangement concerning the presence of R-rated or equivalent material on pay TV services, with particular attention paid to the protection of minors from this material.

1.67 The Committee's examination of international classification systems appears to support the OFLC's claim that 'Australia is at the forefront of international "best practice" in the way it regulates film, videotape and other media'(OFLC Submission 44/37, 10.3.94, p.3). While the Australian system includes requirements such as public information and consultation programs, comprehensive labelling of classified film and videotapes and provision of consumer advice, overseas practices regarding classification of program content are diverse and do not seem to be as comprehensively regulated as in Australia. Reliance on self-regulation and industry codes of practice are particularly evident in the US and Canada, while the

20

Introduction

broadcasting regulatory and classifying bodies in France, United Kingdom and New Zealand seem to have more intrusive roles. Balancing the right of freedom of expression with the protection of minors from unsuitable programs is a common concern amongst the countries examined by the Committee. While concern about the

screening of material with gratuitous violence is universal, the programming of R- type sexual material on pay TV is given greater latitude.

1.68 The various pay TV systems in operation overseas use a variety of methods to assist regulation of the broadcasting of Έ' equivalent material. Adequate labelling of program material and provision of program advice is viewed by all the countries examined by the Committee as a valuable aid to assist viewers to make informed

decisions about what they view and to enable them to monitor what is seen by children. However, there is no obvious common standard as to the degree of detail required to be provided in program advice amongst the countries scrutinised. Watershed hours are used in France, the United Kingdom and New Zealand

although different times are used as a watershed. The extent to which disabling devices are used also varies by country.

21

CHAPTER 2

THE COMMUNITY ATTITUDE TO R-RATED MATERIAL ON PAY TV

2.1 When the Committee was first established by the Senate in mid-1991 it quickly became clear that there was a considerable number of people in the community concerned about the prospect of R- and X-rated material being shown on pay TV. Many submissions made reference to the proliferation of "adult" material

accessible by minors on other new technologies, such as 0055 audiotex services, videotex and on video and computer games.

2.2 The Committee reported its preliminary findings on whether R- and X-rated material should be allowed on pay TV in its June 1992 Final Report. After considering the evidence before it at that time and taking the regulatory situation in relation to film and video into account the Committee concluded that, before a

decision could be made about whether R-rated material should be permitted to be available on pay TV extensive, Australia-wide qualitative and quantitative research was necessary to determine community attitudes.

2.3 As indicated in Chapter 1, while the Broadcasting Services Bill was silent on the matter, the Senate inserted such a provision in the Broadcasting Services Act that the Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA) was required to undertake the required research. The Committee decided to include the topic of the community's perception and reaction to the prospect of R-rated material in the terms of reference because of concerns it held about aspects of the ABA's approach to the research

project. It had also become clear to the Committee that the Australian community's concern about the increasing depictions of violence in the media was being reflected overseas where there was an international debate about media content.

2.4 A diverse range of individuals, organisations and professional groups concerned about the inclusion of R-rated material on pay TV made submissions to the Committee. Their comments and insights considerably expanded on the information made available through a number of research studies, as well as the

specific research project of the Australian Broadcasting Authority. A summary of recent research into attitudes of Australians to media content is included in Appendix 4.

23

R-rated material on pay TV

Views expressed by the general public

2.5 In this section the Committee summarises the thrust of the letters and petitions received from members of the community who sought to contribute their personal opinion to the Committee's deliberations. The Committee received ?some 250 letters and several petitions, in particular one petition in the same terms signed by some 11,000 petitioners. The overwhelming majority of these individuals

expressed opposition to R-rated material on pay TV.

2.6 The terms of the major petition [emphases in original text] were as follows:

We, the undersigned, being concerned about the ESCALATING CRIME RATE resulting from the intrusive and unethical influence of graphic films on the young and impressionable, and being concerned ABOUT THE LOSS OF GOODWILL TOWARD OTHERS, do thank the Committee for the

welcome proposals to change the Office of Film and Literature Classification, and do request the Committee to:

- Recommend to Parliament that material which is, or which will be classified R, BE NOT SCREENED ON PAY-TV. - Recommend that all previous and future material which IN ANY WAY breaches the bans in the Film and Video Guidelines, or tends to

deprave or corrupt, BE NOT screened on TV or Pav-TV. - Legislate to ensure that the Censors attach GREATER IMPORTANCE TO THE RIGHTS OF PARENTS TO HAVE THEIR FAMILY VALUES SUPPORTED over and above profitable industry freedoms, - Recommend that censoring decisions foster the acceptance of

traditional moral standards that the community believes in and supports, so that those beliefs and values that we all share as Australians will help us LIVE IN PEACE AND HARMONY WITH ONE ANOTHER.

2.7 Among other petitions the Committee received was one from 35 residents of the electorate of Dawson, forwarded to the Committee on their behalf by Mr Ray Braithwaite MHR, Member for Dawson, which stated:

pornography is too readily available now in our communities - through magazines, television, and computer games - and it is having a damaging effect on families and young people, causing more frequent attacks on women and children, and encouraging unreal expectations of sex and marriage. Your petitioners therefore ask the House to protect our future generations by limiting the supply of pornography, and banning it from PAY television.

2.8 Some of the comments typically contained in the letters to the Committee from individuals were:

24

The community attitude to R-rated material on pay TV

. There is little doubt in my mind that a lot of the material that people are able to view today has a tendency to deprave and corrupt...what we see on television has an impact on us and has an impact on our behaviour. It seems

self-evident to me that if a person has a tendency towards violence or sexual depravity the viewing of such material will greatly increase that tendency (The Bishop of Willochra);

. Any government which allows pornography and violence a free hand into the Australian home can only be labelled as anti-family (Ms Matsen of Sarina);

. What sort of "evil monsters" are we raising? What sort of society will we have in 20 years time? So please stop giving them [children] more ideas as on these repulsive R-rated programs on pay TV (Ms Ewart of Koumala);

. I believe pornographic videos and violent and sex programs on TV are responsible for much crime in the community (Ms Piece of Proserpine);

. I am firmly opposed to making pornographic material more available with the effect of increasing rape, family breakdown and marital dissatisfaction. I find it inconsistent with the Government's desire to promote the 'Year of the Family" and the 'Year of the Child" (Mr Wilcox of Bowen);

. We feel that there is already too much violence, explicit sex and obscenity on television without adding more...We have read of many surveys and research projects which indicate a causative link between pornography and deviant behaviour or crime and we feel that for the health of society the

government should do all in its power to restrict the availability of such material (Baptist Union of Victoria).

This small sample of comments cannot, of course, do complete justice to the expressions of concern by so many Australian citizens.

2.9 Not all letters to the Committee from individual citizens expressed opposition to R-rated material on pay TV. An A.C.T. resident, Mr Rutherford, indicated that he supported material of a sexually explicit nature being shown on pay TV. He argued that such material was preferable to violent material, which he saw as justified only where it was integral to the plot. Mr and Mrs Edgington of Redcliffe

stressed that pay TV is an opt-in service and people should be allowed to watch in their own homes what they have paid for. Those who do not wish to watch R-rated material need not but should not have the right in a free society to impose their moral values on others.

25

R-rated material on pay TV

Views of church groups

2.10 While several of the quotes above were sourced from letters from individual church members, the Committee took evidence from representatives of several church groups. The Reformed Churches of Australia Classis Western Australia saw the prospect of R-rated material on pay TV as "unpalatable" because of its adverse effects on viewers:

If only one person from that group feasts on this material and eventually commits a heinous crime, or crimes, that will result in one victim or more too many. We cannot allow this to happen. You as politicians can reverse the trend. You can make it easier for us to guide our children and grandchildren to a better lifestyle and a promising future (Evidence, 15.6.94, p.1030).

2.11 The Presbyterian Women's Association of Australia NSW similarly indicated its concern about the increasing distribution of unsuitable material which has harmful effects on that section of the community, often young, who habitually watches such programs:

...we are concerned that children and adolescents who frequently view high levels of physical violence, promiscuous and degrading sexual activity and assaultive language on film, will be encouraged to condone and copy these behaviours as being commonplace, acceptable and even enjoyable within our community (Evidence, 25.3.94, p.622).

2.12 The Anglican Diocese of Newcastle, which sought to differentiate between R- rated material which had artistic merit and that which contained "harmful and unnecessary violence and negative and exploitative sexuality", also argued that:

If increased availability of Έ'- rated material through pay TV might even potentially stimulate an individual child or adult to conceive or be encouraged in a crime or a type of crime that would hurt themselves or another or others, then it ought not be justified (Evidence, 25.3.94, p.751).

Views of groups representing "families"

2.13 Coordinator of Project Family, Mr Richard Dent, who opposed R-rated material for pay TV, directed his concerns at the prospect of children accessing R- rated material on pay TV. He provided the following quote from Plato's The Republic.

Anything received into the mind at that age is likely to become indelible and unalterable; and therefore it is most important that the tales which the young first hear should be models of virtuous thought.

26

The community attitude to R-rated material on pay TV

Mr Dent pointed to a number of films rated R by the OFLC with depictions of graphic sexual violence, such as Salo and Boxing Helena, which Mr Dent used to illustrate his concern that the OFLC is 'totally out of touch with reality' (Evidence, 19.5.94, p. 852).

2.14 The Australian Family Association argued that 'R-rated movies make the world a coarser, less humane place, and this impacts on all of us, whether we watch such movies or not' (Evidence, 19.5.94, p.864). The Association saw the protection of children as its greatest priority in calling for the prohibition of R- and X-rated

material on pay TV.

2.15 Both Project Family and the Australian Family Association expressed concern about the use of pornographic material by perpetrators of "copycat" crimes, domestic violence and child sexual abuse.

Views of groups representing "children"

2.16 The Australian Parents Council, which represents parents of children in non­ government schools (both catholic and independent), expressed concern that the Government had failed to respond to the community's longstanding call for a ban on pornographic material and a reduction in violence. Accordingly, it called for pay

TV to be restricted to the same classification standards as television (ie. prohibition of R and X), because:

...we believe the evidence provided in other places suggests that the link between this area of pornography and its influence on young children is having long-term effects on the children as they move towards maturity (Evidence, 19.5.94, p.802).

The Council was concerned about easier access of children to R-rated material on pay TV, as it noted that a study in South Australia had shown that children already had access to such material in large numbers.

2.17 The Association of Heads of Independent Schools referred to a division of opinion among its membership about content standards for pay TV. While its members were opposed to X-rated material, its view on R was divided between those who saw prohibition as a means of ensuring that children did not have access to

adult material and those who believed that adults should be able to make choices. Chair of the Association's Social Issues Committee, Mr Tony Hill, stressed that: I

I am sure we all realise that responsibility is not always exercised by adults, but most of us would feel that there is a limit to which you can patrol the insides of homes on these matters (Evidence, 4.2.94, p. 535).

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Mr Hill urged that R-rated material be limited to a designated channel to which access was restricted by parental access codes.

2.18 The Australian Children's Television Action Committee (ACTAC) opposed R-rated material on pay TV. It referred to the evidence of adverse impact of television on children and pointed out that R-rated material, in its depictions of violence and horror, was a more exaggerated form of what was already shown on television. While acknowledging that the adverse impact was only on 'the less able, the more vulnerable members of the society', ACTAC representative, Mrs Mary Murdoch, stated:

I see nothing wrong with protecting the less able in this community. I think it is a sign of maturity perhaps. You could say it is social welfare and interference with the rights of the individual, but I do not believe that is what the community, certainly not those people with children, would wish for (Evidence, 4.2.94, p.595).

Mrs Murdoch also stressed the "desensitisation" issue as a cause for concern, by which all members of the community are less affected by the ever more graphic depictions of violence on television.

2.19 Dr Elizabeth MacMahon for the National Association for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (Victoria) stressed the positive correlation between media violence and aggressive behaviour as the basis for her comment that:

In terms of child health, NAPCAN would take the view that we cannot afford any more R-rated electronic violence (Evidence, 4.2,94, p. 610).

Dr MacMahon submitted that pornography is not the cause of sexual abuse of women and children, but is a facilitator. She rejected the notion that the civil liberties of adults should take precedence over the protection of children and she described the argument that only a small number of already disturbed individuals are adversely affected by pornography as 'specious', since it is the small minority who create mayhem in the community.

Women's groups

2.20 In its June 1992 Final Report the Committee had noted the comments of the National Women's Consultative Council (NWCC), the Office of the Sex Discrimination Commissioner and Professor Judith Allen, Chair of Women's Studies at Griffith University.

2.21 The NWCC expressed concern in its submission that new forms of communication had the potential to continue the same stereotyping which prevailed in existing forms of media, and to reinforce a culture of physical and/or sexual violence against women. It stressed that the pervasiveness of violent images in the

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The community attitude to R-rated material on pay TV

mass media was a contributing factor to the 'normalisation' of a physical and sexually violent culture affecting the security and safety of women. This material was seen as offensive to many members of the community and a particularly insidious form of stereotyping (Evidence, 4.11.91, p. 754).

2.22 The NWCC noted that the commercial need for pay TV to build a significant subscriber base with programs of wide general appeal on a limited number of channels appeared to militate against the use of a preponderance of R- and X-rated material. However, it noted that experience elsewhere suggested that such material

could be screened in off peak periods which, by video taping, could later be accessed by minors. The Council view was that, rather than banning, there should be controls placed on access to such material by minors.

2.23 The submission of the Office of the Sex Discrimination Commissioner closely followed that of the NWCC. The submission went into detail on its views on pornography, which was not defined in terms of R or X, but referred to sexual and physical violence and any stereotyped portrayal of women which reinforce the idea

of the inferiority of women. It stressed that:

Many women have raised their concerns about pornography. However there is disagreement and debate about the most appropriate method of responding to the problem that pornography presents (Submission No. 2021/36, p.5).

It then outlined three possible approaches: an obscenity approach; a civil liberties approach; and pornography as sex discrimination. The submission suggested that the women's movement was divided in its views on "pornography", with calls for prohibition by some being challenged by those who would take a civil liberties

approach which would recognise women's sexuality and provide an opportunity for women to be portrayed in liberated, non-stereotyped sexual roles.

2.24 Professor Judith Allen's submission raised concerns about the effects on women of male partners consuming sexist and pornographic media. She noted that it remains unclear whether "pornographic" representations cause rape, or increase partners' sexual demands. In view of the importance of electronic media in women's

lives and the power of representations they transmit, Professor Allen recommended that the Office of the Status of Women should conduct a survey of Australian women's opinions about whether X-rated material should be permitted on pay TV (Submission No. 2018/36, p. 9).

2.25 In March 1994 the Committee took evidence from representatives of the Women's Electoral Lobby (NSW). Its submission stressed concerns about the possibility of a relationship between children's access to violent material and increasing levels of youth violence. It stated:

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R-rated material on pay TV

Available evidence indicates that, at best, accumulated exposure to violent material desensitises viewers to violence, and children learn that violent behaviour is acceptable in society (Evidence, 25.3.94, p. 662).

The WEL supported the prohibition of X-rated material on pay TV and called for disabling devices and other safety measures to ensure that children would not view R-rated material without their parents' knowledge. Suggested additional measures included that only those 18 years and over be allowed to subscribe to such services and that subscribers be able to nominate programming to which they did not want access, which would be blocked from entering the home. The WEL also opposed a designated R-rated channel because:

We are worried that someone would sit there watching R-rated films all day. It has to have an effect on them (Evidence, 25.3.94, p. 677).

Media commentators

2.26 The National Viewers' and Listeners' Association of Australia, which has lobbied against the levels of televised violence for over a decade, expressed cynicism and despair at the prospect of R-rated material on pay TV. Its cynicism arose from the experience of self-regulation in free-to-air television which had enabled the showing of R-rated films on television as M-rated, thus permitting an 8.30 p.m. start

and skipping the MA category with its compulsory 9.00 p.m. commencement limit. Its despair related to its belief that R-rated material on pay TV would lead to copycat re-enactments and add to the cumulative desensitising effect towards cruelty of vulnerable viewers. The Association saw the reversal of the portrayal of violence on television as contributing to 'restoring a safe, non-violent society.'

2.27 In relation to material of a violent and of a sexual nature, the Association was generally concerned about the effects on children in light of the results of a survey the Association had undertaken of Western Australian primary schools in 1988 which clearly demonstrated that children of primary school age had had access to R-rated films.

2.28 The Committee took evidence from a number of media studies academics (Professors Stuart Cunningham, Patricia Gillard, Robyn Quin, Graeme Turner and Paul Walton). Their individual contributions to the Committee's deliberations which arose from their specific areas of research or academic study are included as appropriate in this report. None of them opposed R-rated material for pay TV in principle based on the propositions that R-rated material is already permitted in the family home on videotape, where it can be readily accessed by children, that pay TV is a discretionary service, unlike free-to-air television, and that pay TV subscribers have a choice about what they watch and non-subscribers cannot accidentally access material which might offend them.

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The community attitude to R-rated material on pay TV

2.29 Professor Graeme Turner reflected on the vexed question of influence of television on behaviours (which is dealt with in detail in Chapter 3). He said:

When we come across programming like this [of a violent or sexual nature] we assume that other readers, particularly those seen as more vulnerable than us - typically children - require protection from such disturbances. I exercise protection on my own children's viewing, but

I have to say that is a personal decision and not one which is based on any reliable, scientific evidence (Evidence, 19.5.94, p.875).

Thus Professor Turner's contention was that it is parents who need to regulate their children's viewing according to their own standards of taste and decency, and according to their perceptions of their children's level of maturity, rather than prohibition.

2.30 The other noteworthy element of the evidence of the media studies academics was that R-rated material is unlikely to form a significant component of pay TV content. Professor Cunningham, Associate Professor of Media at Queensland University of Technology, stressed that pay TV services will be market sensitive in that their operators will seek to maximise subscriptions and audiences. He argued

that:

Any material on these services which inhibits market take-up or leads to strong community backlash will, it seems to me, in a market sense, provide strong inhibitors on providers of pay TV...The broadcasting pay [TV] situation will be very sensitive to broad community

attitudes...The national satellite pay television situation will be a small bundle of services...I would think that that will underline the extent to which the market and any community backlash against R-rated or other kinds of material on this service will mean that this kind of

material will not be able to be hidden, as it were, in a vast multi­ channel offer...I believe that the market will decide, or can decide if allowed, the extent to which, if any, R-rated material is available on pay television (Evidence, 19.5.94, pp. 828-9).

Professor Cunningham pointed to the short duration of tabloid television such as Hard Copy, Dunleavy and Friday Files as examples of market sensitivity to community standards and attitudes.

2.31 Professor Turner also cautioned against the introduction of a restrictive code of practice for pay TV because:

...there is no evidence of an avalanche of pornographic or violent material developing through pay TV elsewhere. Where community standards have been offended in the US and Canada it tends to be

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R-rated material on pay TV

through special interest programming that has tended to be explicitly political and has propagated what are seen as unacceptable views on race or politics...Where the research is providing evidence is about the influence of that kind of programming, rather than the influence of R- rated material that is fictional (Evidence, 19.5.94, p. 876).

Views of the professions

2.32 Apart from the psychiatrists and psychologists who were invited to give evidence, the Committee received several letters from concerned members of the professions about the prospect of R-rated (and X-rated) material on pay TV.

2.33 Professor Kevin Durkin, Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Western Australia, saw much video and television content as undesirable for children, but preferred to inform and advise parents on how they could mediate between their child and the mass media than resort to prohibition. While he argued that thousands of studies had been unable to show that violent media inclined children to enact violent behaviour in everyday life, he acknowledged that 'there are many psychologists who have a view different from mine' (Evidence, 15.6.94, p. 1052).

2.34 Professor Donald Thomson then from the Department of Psychology at Monash University did not directly state a view on content standards for pay TV but emphasised his concern about children modelling and imitating media violence in certain circumstances, which behaviour he extrapolated to adults.

2.35 Professor Brent Waters, Director of Psychiatric Services at St. Vincent's Hospital Sydney, submitted to the Committee that existing data on the effect of television on children led to 'the inescapable conclusion that R-rated material with a violent content can be expected to have a negative impact on some children. It will effect (sic) them immediately as well as shaping their attitudes in a permanent way if the diet of such materials is fairly heavy' (Submission No. 35/37, p.l). Rather than prohibition, Professor Waters favoured definitional reform, disabling devices and advice to parents about how to teach their children to become more discerning media consumers.

2.36 Ms Greta Goldberg, President of the Australian Society of Sex Educators, Researchers and Therapists, addressed her comments essentially at material of a sexual content. She emphasised that subscribers with adequate social and emotional adjustment may use X-rated explicit sexual material without negative consequences, although some habitual users of adult material may be a group defined by increased emotional and psychosexual vulnerability. She urged the community to redirect its discussion of sexuality away from:

...negative controls intended to eliminate or reduce sexual behaviour. There is such a strong negative bias against sexuality that we never consider controls intended to reinforce and positively shape desirable sexual behaviour (Evidence, 23.9.91, p. 561).

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The community attitude to R-rated material on pay TV

Ms Goldberg saw encouraging couple-watching or bonus censorship points for sexual material that highlighted "love" as such positive controls.

2.37 The following comments were made in letters from practising members of the "health" professions:

. Evidence from my practice suggest to me that people who are subjected to seeing such "R" rated material combining sex and violence are likely to act out the things they see on TV or movies in "real life" (Jane Tiggeman,

Psychologist, Adelaide);

. We believe that this [permitting R-rated films on pay TV] is likely to have a detrimental effect on children whose parents may not exercise adequate surveillance of what their children are watching (Drs. Christie and Roberts,

Regional Paediatricians Group (WA));

. As a psychologist who knows the power of the imagination for good or evil, I request that R-rated material be not allowed on future pay TV services (Mrs June Wayne, Counsellor, Health and Family Psychologist, Sydney; emphasis

in original text);

. I feel adolescents are exposed to quite enough gratuitous sex, violence... without allowing these operators carte blanche (Dr Simon Clarke, Physician in Adolescent Medicine, Sydney);

. It is a well known fact that there is a marked increased likelihood of victims of such [sexual] assault and incest repeating the insults on the next generation and that victims of child abuse may grow up themselves to be abusers of their own children in a sadly repeated cycle...It seems to me that

to make R rated films accessible by pay-TV is to inevitably make them accessible to children in a fashion that will be unmanageable and unable to be adequately monitored...I believe that the effect of exposure to these films is significantly detrimental, entirely inappropriate and undermines

development of young children and should be made as difficult as is possible for them to access. (Dr Jeffrey Streimer, Consultant Psychiatrist, Sydney);

. There is inadequate research in the area of behavioural sciences to assess what affect long-term this [viewing of R-rated material in the home by children] has on children's acceptance of unusual sexual practices or violence (Dr Evelyn Howe, Clinical Psychologist, Sydney).

Industry views

2.38 Australis Media Limited was the only major pay TV operator to put its views before the Committee. In its submission Australis stressed that it will be commercially important for pay TV to be able to offer R-rated material or else it would lack product differentiation from free-to-air television or the convenience

element over homevideo hire. It stated:

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R-rated material on pay TV

If a subscriber willingly elects to select and pay to see R-rated material, he or she is entitled to view the film in its entirety, as designed by the film's director, not mutilated by cutting or editing which can often have the effect of altering the meaning or intention of the writer, producer and director. The subscriber is viewing it in the privacy of his or her own home and should have freedom of choice in entertainment selected (Submission No.61/37, p.4).

2.39 Another potential operator of pay TV services, Graff Pay-Per-View (Australia) Pty Ltd, presented a submission which outlined the company's plans to launch its business in cable television using a pay-per-view format. Viewers would be provided with films on several channels at scheduled times, for which they are charged only when accessed. Graff Australia proposes to follow the programming mix of its American shareholder, which includes two channels of material categorised as R for

its simulated or implied sexual content called "Spice". The company stresses that its material is R-rated non violent erotica, which it argues does not contribute to violence in the community, and that it should therefore be available to the Australian public on pay TV (Submission No. 54/37).

2.40 A similar argument was heard from Video Ray Pty Ltd, which is the Australasian video distributor of a range of R-rated erotica. Both companies shared a concern that consideration of the R rating in overview does not distinguish between the violent and erotic elements of R. The Video Ray submission stated:

There is absolutely no violence in "R"-rated adult erotic titles and we believe the problems society blames them for are caused by the high levels of exposure to violence, not only on video but on nightly TV programs and news services (Evidence, 25.3.94, p. 681).

Managing Director, Ms Sue Raye, told the Committee that there was an 'enormous market' for her company's product in Australia, which market should be able to be met on a subscription basis on pay TV.

2.41 The Committee also took evidence in November 1991 from representatives of Genesis Telecommunications Pty Ltd, which at the time was operating an adult entertainment videotex service. The company argued in its submission that, given that R- and X-rated films were legally classified, it would be 'inconsistent, discriminatory and without objective viewpoint' (Evidence, 4.11.91, p. 650) to deny access to such material to adults on pay TV.

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CHAPTER 3

RESEARCH INTO THE EFFECTS OF R-RATED MATERIAL ON ITS CONSUMERS

3.1 In the following discussion of the contribution research evidence makes to resolving the issue of the likelihood of adverse effects flowing from R-rated material being permitted on pay TV, the Committee recounts the views of a number of experts and community representatives. It has not attempted to present a quasi­

academic analysis of the relative merits of the primary research material. The field of "effects" research is enormous with estimates of 'literally thousands' of research papers (Evidence, Professor B. Waters, 2.4.92, p.1204), which is clearly beyond the resources of the Committee to review. Instead, by seeking the advice of experts,

especially practitioners in the field, the Committee can reach conclusions based on their advice of what is the most up-to-date information.

THE DEBATE OVER EFFECTS

3.2 From the Committee's first public hearing the controversy over effects research was emphasised. At its hearing in August 1991, Deputy Chief Censor, Mr David Haines, advised the Committee that, while connections had been made from

time-to-time between particular films and criminal acts, connections usually made by the media but on occasions by the courts, the National Committee on Violence had established, as had authorities all over the world, that disturbed personalities are not created by watching a film, but that the watching of a film may trigger a

violent response, although there could be other causes. Three years later the OFLC's March 1994 submission stated that there had still been no specific research conducted on the effects on viewers of R-rated material (Submission no. 44/37, p.14).

3.3 The October 1991 submission of the Australian Institute of Criminology provided the Committee with an overview of this issue. It wrote:

Human aggression is a complex phenomenon. The fact that certain traits, characteristics, or other variables may be associated with aggressive behaviour does not necessarily imply causation. The association may be coincidental, or alternatively, the variables may be

co-symptomatic of underlying conditions (Submission No. 2159/36, p.l).

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R-rated material on pay TV

3.4 The Institute's submission then sought to review current knowledge on the likelihood that certain types of depictions will increase aggressive behaviour in viewers. It stated that:

. Evidence accumulating over the past three decades suggests that exposure to depictions of aggressive behaviour does increase the risk that the viewer will behave aggressively. The relationship is bi­ directional. That is, individuals who view violence tend to be more aggressive, and aggressive individuals tend to view more violence. Factors which enhance the risk of aggression following exposure to depictions of violence include perception of the violence as realistic, identification with the violent character depicted, and beliefs about society's acceptance of aggression. The effects of viewing aggression can be mitigated by parental counselling which imparts the ability to understand and evaluate television content.

. Research on the question of whether exposure to depictions of explicit sexuality, without violence, has produced findings which are contradictory and inconclusive. Research findings reporting an association between exposure to non-violent depictions of explicit sexuality and subsequent aggression attribute this as a function of an arousal state generally. In other words, any increase in levels of physiological arousal, whether occasioned by music, sport, or exposure to erotic stimuli, enhances the risk of aggressive behaviour. The risk may be amplified by anger level, and the presence of other disinhibiting factors such as alcohol.

. Exposure to depictions of violence combined with explicit sexuality enhances the risk of aggressive behaviour. Although definitive evidence is lacking, the aggressive stimuli appear to make a more significant contribution than do the erotic stimuli with which they are combined. In other words, it appears that exposure to depictions of violence against women, regardless of the sexual explicitness of the context within which the violence occurs, poses the risk of subsequent aggression.

and concluded that:

The foregoing summary should not be interpreted as implying that exposure to depictions of violence will necessarily produce aggressive behaviour on the part of the viewer. Rather, some individuals, depending upon a number of

other factors including situational circumstances such as frustration, or provocation, and the presence or absence of disinhibitors such as alcohol, are at greater risk of behaving aggressively after exposure to depictions of violence.

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Research into the effects o f R-rated material

3.5 The Joint Select Committee on Video Material (JSCVM) was charged, amongst other things, to examine "the likely effects upon people, especially children, of exposure to violent, pornographic or otherwise obscene material." In its 1988 report it noted that in respect of filmic violence:

...the bulk of research suggests that many viewers, especially younger ones, far from being repelled by filmic violence, become desensitised to the extent that violence is seen as an acceptable and legitimate means

of attaining social ends. This has been found to be especially the case in more violent societies, where television violence reflects actual reality (Report, Volume 1, p.197).

3.6 In respect of pornographic films and videos in Australia the JSCVM noted that the dominant theme of the bulk of this material is that it "objectifies" and "commodifies" women. It noted:

Women are often depicted as sexually malleble for the purpose of satisfying male sexual desires. This is sometimes manifested by themes involving workplace sexual favours. Women are frequently depicted as eager for sexual experience of any kind and ever ready for any

opportunity for sexual activity. This is frequently manifested in the group sex scenes depicting diverse sexual activity, which are a feature of much of the material in this category (ibid., p.202).

3.7 The JSCVM observed that:

Analysis of the concept of pornography, combined with a thorough examination of the evidence made available to this Committee, establishes quite clearly the likely effects of pornography and what conditions mediate those harmful effects (ibid., p. 229).

These were detailed by the JSCVM in the body of its report and in the Appendix where the various theories including the Conditioning Theory, the Social Learning Theory, the Arousal-Affect Theory and the Social Cognition Theory were dealt with.

3.8 The JSCVM addressed the demand by some that it should establish that exposure to certain types of videos produce "measurable" harm to society based on a causative link between videos and particular criminal offences. It observed that:

Because of the operation of other influential variables the Committee is of the view that it would be almost impossible to prove a direct and sole causal link between the viewing of a specific video and the commission of a particular crime and therefore it would be unwise for

action to be delayed pending evidence to satisfy such an impossibly unattainable standard of proof (ibid., p. 186).

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R-rated material on pay TV

It noted that what science attempts to do is to establish theories which make reliable predictions about how the world works. It added:

If behavioural science, by rigorous academic tests supported by clinical and correlational studies, establishes in this area of research reliable predictions of human behaviour it would be unenlightened for Parliament to ignore them (ibid., p. 187).

3.9 The Committee briefly described the findings of the National Committee on Violence's 1990 report Violence: Directions for Australia in its June 1992 Final Report. The National Committee was established as a result of a joint agreement between the Prime Minister, the State Premiers and the Chief Minister of the

Northern Territory, and arose from the Hoddle Street and Queen Street killings in Melbourne in 1987 and 1988. Under its terms of reference the National Committee was required to examine, inter alia, "the impact of the mass media on the incidence of violence". The National Committee undertook a review of available literature on causes of violence. It noted that the question of how television violence influences viewer aggression had been the subject of intense research since the 1950s and that, despite the shortcomings which might have characterised any single study, there was a consistency of findings that demonstrated an association between television viewing and subsequent aggression. It also noted that, while the consensus of opinion was that it was unlikely that television plays more than a minor role in producing violence and violent crime when compared to other social forces, it was

...generally conceded that the viewing of television violence may produce attitude change, provide justification for violence and suggest that problems can be solved through aggressive behaviour (Report, p. 82).

3.10 It concluded that:

With regard to the harmful effects of media depictions of violence, the Committee recognises a degree of risk.. .The Committee also recognises the vulnerability and impressionability of children. This does not imply, however, that media content should be restricted to those materials deemed suitable for consumption by children, psychopaths, or other individuals who may experience difficulties in controlling anti­ social impulses (Report, p. 211).

It also considered the claimed harmful effects of non-violent erotica, rock music and sexism in the media as a possible cause of violence, and stated:

Whilst the Committee concedes that a state of physiological arousal which may be induced by these and a variety of other stimuli can in turn facilitate aggression by some individuals, in certain circumstances, this does not of itself justify the prohibition of any stimulus with a tendency to evoke arousal, sexual or otherwise.

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Research into the effects of R-rated material

The Committee deplores sexism and the denigration of women. It feels, however, that values such as these, no less than other anti-social thoughts, are best combated not by censorship, but by criticism, censure and stigmatisation in the marketplace of ideas (ibid.).

3.11 The most succinct statement of the National Committee's findings was given by its Chair, Professor Duncan Chappell, who was the Director of the Australian Institute of Criminology at the time. Professor Chappell stated:

Essentially it is the view of the Committee that the experiences of childhood and influence of the immediate family are paramount in determining whether or not an individual becomes violent in his or her

behaviour...what children observe and learn in their homes - and they come to recognise as norms of behaviour - will largely determine their reaction to these influences (Preventing Violence: an International Perspective, 1990, quoted in evidence, 25.3.94 p. 648).

3.12 One member of the National Committee, Mr Peter Quinn, who at the time was Director of Management Services in the NSW Department of Family and Community Services, took a stronger view about violence in the media. In his minority report Mr Quinn stated that the vast majority of submissions to the

National Committee dealt with media violence yet that Committee had not, in his view, taken sufficient account of them. In relation to the relationship of media violence to actual violence he wrote that:

The question of whether media violence produces violence in ordinary life is an extraordinary difficult one to answer. Much of the research evidence is conflicting but this may well be simply because it is so difficult in such an area to ever demonstrate any cause/effect

relationships...In my view...although one cannot prove a causal association, it is very probable that such an association does exist and that what we know of the psychology of the socialisation of children suggests that certain types of media violence will have a detrimental

effect, especially on young and impressionable children (Report of the National Committee on Violence, Violence: Directions for Australia, p. 254).

3.13 Mr Quinn subsequently gave evidence to this Committee in April 1992. His submission was critical of the National Committee's approach to the issue of media violence which, because of timetable constraints, had limited its consideration of this topic. Mr Quinn argued that, had there been more time and resources, his minority

view may have become the majority view of the National Committee yet 'in its response to the whole Report, the Commonwealth Government chose to ignore these comments' (Evidence, 7.4.92, p.1375). Mr Quinn's comments undermine the arguments of those who would claim that the National Committee's report should

be taken as the definitive statement on the subject of violence in the Australian

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R-rated material on pay TV

community although, as pointed out by the Australian Institute of Criminology, its report does show that:

A number of factors do enhance the risk that an individual will behave aggressively... The influence of these factors may in turn be amplified or muted through interaction with other variables. They may vary in their relative influence on a given individual as he or she proceeds through the life cycle. And their influence may be contingent upon the

existence of additional circumstances or conditions (Submission No. 2159/36, pp 1-2).

3.14 Mr Quinn's minority report alluded to one of the great conundrums in the conduct of "effects" research - the difficulty of sheeting causality to any one factor given the complexity of situations and motivations in which anti-social behaviour occurs. For example, does one blame an act of violence on a media source if the perpetrator already had a violent predisposition or other personality disorder, or was drunk or drug affected or temporarily depressed from divorce, poverty or unemployment? The Committee is aware of attempts to use such statistical techniques as multivariate statistics, meta-analysis and path analysis, by which researchers have sought to determine a direct causal or consequential relationship between media and behaviour, without definitive results.

3.15 Another constraint to finding "proof1 in the scientific manner of a controlled experiment is the practical and ethical difficulty of exposing a group of volunteer citizens (usually drawn from undergraduate students) in the artificial settings of a laboratory to a diet of either violent or sexually explicit material and comparing their responses to those of a control group. One means of addressing this ethical issue has been by study of the viewing preferences of young offenders, such as has been recently undertaken by the British Policy Studies Institute. The rationale for this approach is that the study group self-selects as having anti-social tendencies (although with the important qualification that they also had to have been caught and charged) and therefore a study of the group's viewing habits may be an indicator of any media influence.

3.16 In the British Institute's April 1994 report entitled Young Offenders and the Media: Viewing habits and preferences the viewing habits of 78 young offenders aged 12 to 18 years were compared to a representative sample of over 5000 children of comparable age. The study was funded jointly by the British Board of Film Classification, the British Broadcasting Corporation, the Broadcasting Standards Council and the Independent Television Commission. In a Preface to the report, James Ferman, Director of the British Board of Film Classification made the

observation that:

There have been many attempts to explore the nature of such links, but few have been able to demonstrate a causal relationship. Human nature is far too complex to lend itself to simple explanations. The

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Research into the effects o f R-rated material

nature/nurture debate is never-ending, and crucial experiences may have their origin in infancy or adolescence, home or school, family or peer group, or some unique combination of them all. Some of those crucial experiences may have their origin in the thousands of hours of TV or video consumption by the average child, and media regulators must have particular regard to such influences (p.x).

Overall the study found that there were few differences between the reading, viewing and game playing habits of the two groups. One of the report's authors, Dr Tim Newburn, commented:

The results of this research reinforce my view that those who blame the media for crime are on a doomed mission in search of a simple solution to a complex problem (Press Release of the Policy Studies Institute, 11 April 1994).

3.17 Another problem with effects research is the measurement of the violent responses of those under study. Some studies look at the number and nature of offences, which requires perpetrators to have been both caught and convicted. This is obviously not a representative sample of perpetrators of violence. Another problem

experienced particularly with longitudinal studies of sexual violence is that, over time, women have been more prepared to report incidents of sexual violence. It cannot therefore be assumed that sexual violence has increased over the period under study. In the field of children's behavioural research it has been argued that what one person may perceive as violent behaviour may only be mere boisterousness, "rough and tumble play" (discussed in Turtle Trauma: Lay Fears, Media Hype and

Research Findings Concerning the Effects o f Superhero Cartoons upon Young Viewers, by Dr Kevin Durkin). The results of such studies are subject to challenge on the basis that the bias in the research design necessarily led to the results achieved.

3.18 However, the ultimate question which effects research finds difficult to answer is: why does one person exposed to violent media become aroused to the point of action while another is simply entertained. This issue was the subject of detailed analysis by Professor Donald Thomson of the Department of Psychology at

Monash University. While Professor Thomson made it clear at the outset that he was aware that the research findings were diffuse and diverse, he had "reached the very clear conclusion that there is indeed a relationship" (Evidence, 4.2.94, page 571) between depicted violence and behaviour in the community. Professor Thomson

outlined five psychological mechanisms for the transmission of violence through media violence:

. through the acquisition of behaviours; . through arousal;

. through the extinction of empathetic response; . through the disinhibition of moral control; and . through the identification of appropriate circumstances.

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R-rated material on pay TV

3.19 Professor Thomson used this framework to explain why not everyone who sees violent media will act in a violent fashion:

I want to argue that one must look at not only necessary conditions but sufficient conditions. Although one observes violent behaviour, it may never be committed, simply because one is not aroused, one has this empathetic response not to hurt somebody, one has a sense of moral rightness or wrong, or the right circumstances do not exist. Where the violence is committed, it depends upon all those things...the

exposure to this increases the likelihood of particular types of violence occurring. The fact that we do not get consistent results across some studies is because they are focused on wanting to establish that the exposure to violent videos and films is a sufficient condition. It is not

(Evidence, 4.2.94, pp. 573-4).

3.20 Professor Paul Walton from the Department of Sociology at the University of Wollongong saw the impact of the media in terms of its effects on the underlying culture. He argued that the greater the exposure of citizens to large quantities of violence, and the more violence becomes a part of media culture, then:

The cumulative culturally mediated and amplified effects contribute to what I would call the character structure of society...we actually know that media messages have direct effects, but they are mediated by a variety of other things too - income, structure, position, class, status,

identity, religion, ethnicity, and so on. However, because one does not have direct effect, that does not mean to say that the cumulative effects are not horrendous (Evidence, 25.3.94 pp. 726-7).

3.21 Professor Graeme Turner, Professor of Communications at the University of Queensland also addressed the issue of the influence of the media, particularly television, in a cultural context. He said:

The continued attempt to provide evidence of influence...misconceives the kind of cultural influence that television exerts. Television has very little capacity on its own to initiate imitative behaviour. This is because television is not autonomous; it is part of a larger system of cultural meanings. If we got rid of TV we would not change society. What television has the power to do is to reinforce already established behaviours (Evidence, 19.5.94, p. 875).

Professor Turner went on to argue that the community should be wary of depictions of certain established problem behaviours, such as violence against women.

3.22 The Presbyterian Women's Association raised concerns about the effect of violent media on the Aboriginal culture, with its representative recounting statements of the principal of Bimbadeen Christian Aboriginal College that increased

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domestic violence had arisen as a result of the viewing of R and X material leading to a belief that violent behaviour was accepted and acceptable by male members of the community. The Association's submission referred to an Aboriginal elder stating that she saw pornographic and violent films as much a problem for her people as

alcohol and domestic violence (Evidence, 25.3.94, pp. 625-34).

3.23 Professor Patricia Gillard from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology sought to address the differences in violence in Australia and the United States in cultural terms, despite the proliferation of American-sourced programming on Australian television. The thrust of her argument was that, if media was capable of

direct influence, why is Australia not a society like that of the United States. While pointing specifically to the absence of guns in Australia as a major contributor to the difference, Professor Gillard provided this answer to her own rhetorical question:

That has a lot to do with other decisions that we have made as part of who we are as a society. All of this programming is mediated by our social values, our social structures and our industries; the things that people are allowed and encouraged to buy and use, and the attitudes

towards them. There is no direct effect, no direct link, between symbolic content and behaviour. There has to be a lot of different links made by individuals and those are very much modified by what happens in between (Evidence, 4.2.94, p.566).

ANECDOTAL AND OTHER RESEARCH EVIDENCE

Attitudinal research

3.24 The Committee has to determine whether the influence of R-rated material on the attitudes and behaviour of its consumers has such likely adverse impact that it should be deemed to be unsuitable for pay TV. Clearly, this decision cannot be made on the basis of scientific truth. The OFLC suggested in its submission that, in view of the lack of consensus about the methodology of effects research, the

Committee should focus on initiatives that have been taken through "attitudinal research" to overcome the problems of cause and effects research. It noted that the attitudinal research approach had been pioneered by Mr Barrie Gunter of the Independent Broadcasting Authority in Britain in 1988 who had written:

...there have been few serious attempts among either critics or researchers to provide meaningful and representative definitions of violence in terms of the tastes of the television audience...Traditional methods for measuring how much violence there is on television, however, have not normally taken into account what viewers perceive

to be violent (from Violence on Television What the Viewers Think, by Gunter and Wober, contained in Submission No. 44/37, p.15).

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3.25 Professor Stuart Cunningham, Associate Professor of Media at Queensland University of Technology added his support to the attitudinal research approach because of the methodological problems in the effects research. He said:

If we wait until the definitive, conclusive evidence of causal relations between violence and sexually explicit material and antisocial behaviour and attitudes comes along we will be waiting for a long time (Evidence, 19.5.94, p. 837).

3.26 Professor Cunningham saw the "community perceptions of violence" approach, as used by the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal in its study of television violence, as attempting to say:

Let's treat them as adult people. Let's treat them as being able to make informed choices. Let's not assume that the psychology experts can give us the evidence; because in 60 years of trying they have not (ibid.).

The audience surveys commissioned by the Tribunal demonstrated that perceptions vary in accordance with such variables as gender, age, whether the viewers were parents or not, and the strength of the viewers' religious beliefs. Professor Cunningham stated that:

The concept of community perceptions of violence neatly sidesteps the problems of effects research. It is no longer necessary to decide on cause and effect. Rather, what we need to know is: what does the community think about the relationship between violence and television?. Those who believe in cause and effect...become one part of 'community perceptions' (Evidence, 19.5.94, p.823).

3.27 The Committee recognises that it is important to define the acceptability of viewing content according to a community standard of taste and decency, or basing exclusions on concepts of offensiveness to public feeling. On the Committee's recommendation, the Australian Broadcasting Authority has had undertaken qualitative and quantitative studies of the levels of sex and violence which respondents stated that they were prepared to accept for pay TV, the results of which have borne heavily in the Committee's deliberations (see discussion in Chapter 2).

3.28 The Committee does not disagree with the principle that pay TV services should be acceptable to the tastes of its consumers. This has positive democratic and commercial perspectives. However, democratic government is not solely a process of reaction to public opinion and, in areas where the public interest demands, governments are bound to legislate. The Committee's task is to decide the balance between the often contradictory principle of an adult's right to freedom to view with the protection of children from harmful material. Thus, in the current context, irrespective of the acceptability, even popularity, of R-rated material for pay TV, the

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Committee will not support its availability if it believes that the material is unsuitable.

Anecdotal evidence

3.29 The Committee has given consideration to the comments of expert witnesses which is suggestive of adverse media consequences which, rather than being definitive, may nonetheless be sufficiently persuasive for the purposes of the Committee's task in balancing the rights of individuals against the public interest.

As stressed by both Professor Thomson and Dr MacMahon from the National Association for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, in the current situation in which the academic and scientific communities are unable to agree on "effects", the general community must seek other indicators as a substitute explanation of

what is going on (Professor Thomson stated that 'research findings have to match our everyday observations' (Evidence, 4.2.94, p.575); while Dr MacMahon stressed that You have got to make sense of the literature that you have, with clinical experience' (Evidence, 4.2.94, p.609)).

3.30 The most likely source of expert comment in this respect comes from psychologists, psychiatrists, medical and legal practitioners and educators who are in daily contact with the reality of the community's behavioural problems. The views of many members of this group were outlined in Chapter 2. However, the Committee

has concentrated below on the indications for future action which arise from circumstantial, anecdotal evidence and research in related fields.

Case studies

3.31 The anecdotal causal-link case study approach most frequently referred to relates to the finding of violent and sexually explicit material in the possession of offenders at the time of their arrest. Similarities between the story lines of violent books and films and the subsequent acting out of those story lines by perpetrators,

the so-called "copycat" crimes, are seen as proof of the cause/effect influence. The most graphic example of this connection was the Bulger case in Britain of the murder of a boy aged 2 years by two 10-year old boys in late 1993, allegedly in a manner which resembled the plot of a film called Child's Play 3. The film was

classified as 'M' in Australia by the OFLC and carried the consumer advice of "high level violence and medium level coarse language" [it should be noted that, according to the OFLC's March 1994 submission to the Committee that 'a typical consumer advice line is "high level violence and coarse language" for the 'R' film Reservoir

Dogs].

3.32 Victorian barrister, Mr Richard Read, presented a paper at a 1991 symposium of the Victorian Criminal Justice Council in which he detailed several cases in which pornography was claimed to have had a significant effect on the behaviour of the offender, including that of a 10-year-old who attempted vaginal and anal intercourse

and orally raped a girl aged six years after reading pornographic literature and viewing a video. In relation to the case a forensic psychologist had said:

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It would further appear that one of the significant contributing factors in relation to his behaviour at the time was his discovery of

pornographic magazines and video films belonging to his elder brother aged nineteen, which were concealed in that sibling's bedroom. This in turn appears to have aroused his curiosity and led to this most unfortunate sequence of events (Pornography, Depicted Violence and Crime, Quadrant, June 1991, No. 277 Vol. XXXV Number 6, p. 13).

3.33 Based on what he describes as an "exploratory study" of files in the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions in Victoria, and on his 33 years of personal experience, Mr Read concluded:

I believe it is highly probable that the present levels of violent crime and violent sex crime in Australia are linked to the proliferation of increasingly violent and pornographic videos, magazines and other material...I believe that my sample study of actual case histories clearly establishes the very strong probability that the videos and magazines which each of these offenders viewed were a significant motivating factor in the subsequent violence and sexual assaults which occurred (ibid., p. 14).

Mr Read argued that the onus should be on those who claim there is no link between pornography and sexual violence to prove their case.

3.34 The Committee received a large number of submissions which saw such incidents as sufficient proof of the unsuitability of R-rated material for pay TV because of its adverse influence on viewers. Many submissions included media reports outlining cases of violence, sexual violence, school violence and suicide where a specific media source was seen as the direct cause. Ironically, the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal, commented on the role of the media in its 1990 report TV

Violence in Australia:

The attention devoted by all forms of the media, in varying degrees, to violence and violent crime has added to a widespread feeling that violence is a major problem in Australian society (Vol 1: Decisions and Reasons, P.89).

It added:

Coupled with this feeling is the assumption that in some way there is a connection between violent behaviour and the violence portrayed and presented in the media, particularly television. This assumption is not restricted to the general public but is reflected in the vast body of research on the topic of television and violence (ibid., p.90).

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3.35 Professor Brent Waters argued that there was no way of knowing whether the perpetrators of violent crime may have proceeded anyway, perhaps using print material as a stimulus (Evidence, 2.4.92, p.1205).

3.36 Mr Rodney Blackmore, Senior Children's Magistrate, Children's Court of NSW, with some 40 years court experience, was similarly reticent about making too direct a linkage. He observed that:

...the sort of violence that [offenders] are charged with does not seem to replicate the sort of things that you might expect to see depicted on the screen...one wonders really whether the movies which displayed that [colour gangs] followed the event rather than the other way

about...I have got some considerable doubts as whether the effect of this sort of material being available generally is not overrated (Evidence, 25.3.94, p.739).

3.37 Dr Rod Milton who has considerable professional experience in criminal cases involving violent crime as a psychiatrist and forensic scientist, stated that it was not uncommon for perpetrators of violent crime to have had considerable exposure to violent crime in the media. He told the Committee of advice from FBI officers that

serial killers 'almost universally have very violent material in their possession and lots of it' (Evidence, 25.3.94, p. 736).

3.38 In relation to the Bulger case, the initial media attention on the similarities between the children's behaviour and the content of the film Child's Play 3, prompted by the comment of trial judge, Justice Morland, that "It is not for me to pass judgement on their upbringing but I suspect exposure to violent video films

may, in part, be an explanation" was replaced by more measured analysis of the troubled backgrounds of the two 10-year-old children. The boys came from broken homes, were prone to truancy, shoplifting and bullying. Not only did the parents deny that their children had had access to the film, although one parent had hired

the movie less than a month before the murder, but neither the police nor the prosecutors claimed any relationship between the film and the boys' behaviour. Professor Thomson was asked to comment on the Bulger case and he stated:

...it comes as no surprise to me. One would particularly want to have a look at the background of these children who committed the offence. One would want to look carefully at what sort of exposure they had to violence within the home and what sort of exposure they had to violent

television. But it is consistent with the experimental research I have conducted...(Evidence, 4.2.94, p. 574).

3.39 Dr Elizabeth MacMahon, Acting President and Honorary Medical Adviser of the National Association for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (Victoria), informed the Committee that she had spoken with a UK doctor about the Bulger case and had been informed that forensic specialists were uneasy about the copycat

nature of the crime. She added:

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They feel it cannot be ignored. They are not claiming it is associated, but putting ideas in the minds of disturbed children who are already aggressive, neglected and unsupervised has got to be a worry

(Evidence, 4.2.94, p. 606).

3.40 Dr MacMahon used the Bulger case to explain:

There are three consequences that we know exist by exposure to electronic violence. One is that children are more likely to exercise violence. A second is that they are more likely to be desensitised to tissue damage. The third is that they can have an exaggerated fear of their own vulnerability to assault (ibid., p.610).

Dr MacMahon saw the third factor as a possible explanation for the actions of one of the two boys in the Bulger case, who may have gone along with the murder out of concern that otherwise he may suffer the same fate.

3.41 The Australian Children's Television Action Committee referred to research by William Belson published in 1978 as TV violence and the adolescent boy based on a longitudinal study of over 1000 boys in London. The study found that some children are more affected by television than others and ACTAC stated that the children in the Bulger case were typical examples of the types identified in the Belson study as most likely to be most severely affected:

They were loners; they had low self-esteem; they were low achievers; and they were bullies (Evidence, 4.2.94, p.589).

3.42 La Trobe University's Professor of Clinical Psychology, Margot Prior, told a conference on the effects of electronic media in August 1994 that watching violent media in combination with existing aggressive and anti-social tendencies produced high levels of violence in childhood which are carried into adult life. In relation to the Bulger case she commented that:

A history of problem behaviour along with some influence of violent video watching were influential in creating a situation in which these very high-risk children could go on to engage in such horrific behaviour (Potential violence in every classroom, by Louise Robson, AAP, 21 August 1994).

3.43 The Committee believes that the evidence of case studies is unequivocal that the media has had a direct bearing on the commissioning of acts of anti-social behaviour. While R-rated violent films are often implicated in the process, just as

often the anecdotal connection can be made to M-rated free-to-air television, graphically violent books such as American Psycho or magazines of the military, "soldier of fortune" genre. The finding relates principally to that proportion of the population who have, for any of the reasons discussed above, been triggered into an aggressive response by the media stimulus.

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3.44 It transpires that the murderers of James Bulger had not seen the video Child's Play 3. It must also be noted that the Child's Play videos, which have been rated M in Australia, have been available for hire by children in video stores in every Australian city for some years, without any incident that the Committee is aware of, not even a copycat incident arising from reporting of the British example. The real danger to society from belief in the case study approach to "effects" analysis

is that the community is misled into believing, as is clear in the research results in Appendix 4, that there is a much greater problem than actually exists by virtue of tabloid journalism's obsession with violent crime.

Compounding effect

3.45 A prohibition on R-rated material on pay TV cannot be justified solely on the basis of these case studies alone. The discussion does lead, however, to consideration of the consequences of adding another level of ready availability of R-rated material to the menu of media choices and its possible effects on disturbed or immature

personalities.

3.46 Professor Thomson was asked to comment on the possible consequences of immersion in violent and pornographic material from the large number of technological sources now becoming available. He argued that his learning research had shown that one of the most effective ways of teaching is to present the same

sort of message in different media or different forms (Evidence, 4.2.94, p.580). He added that constant exposure to any particular orientation, be it political, religious or attitudinal, will result in more of the viewers taking and absorbing that particular position (ibid., p.582). However, he stressed that his concern was with depictions of physical and sexual violence, not "non-violent sexually explicit material", although:

...to the extent one has exposure to a particular type of behaviour, you will have the audience taking that particular type of behaviour on. It will be in their repertoire; it will be their way of viewing things (op.

cit.).

3.47 Professor Paul Walton commented that there was increasing community concern about the amount of violence shown by the media in both the news and entertainment areas and, while the direct result of such violent coverage, such as copycat crimes, are undertaken by only a small number:

...the cumulative or culturally mediated and amplified effects all contribute to the character structure of society (Evidence, 25.3.94, p.717).

Professor Walton argued that the British studies, which he saw as having more cultural relevance to Australia than the American studies, particularly because of the gun laws situation, were convinced that the proliferation of violent media had a 'desensitising' effect on the values and norms which a community would otherwise

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hold, which he described as 'a negative force within the cultural sensitivities of our society'CEvidence, 25.3.94, p.727). He added:

I do not think there is much doubt that, if it is as many theorists now believe and...researchers now believe - that media culture is like a language and a code that we pick up and we accept or even reject - the more time that is spent with interactive media like video games or virtual reality, down the track, or broadcast television and pay television, then you are reinforcing more of the same...if people are drawing identifications and reinforcements from one area, then if more time and more play is spent across a bunch of these I do not think there can be any doubt that this adds massively to their desensitisation

(Evidence, 25.3.94, p.728).

While Professor Walton took a strong position on adverse consequences from the cumulative effect of media messages and desensitisation, he did not use that position as the basis for a ban on R-rated material on pay TV because of its availability on video.

3.48 Dr Milton similarly argued that people are changed by what they experience and that it was undesirable:

...to be surrounded by violence in a very realistic form...not just perhaps the quality of it but the quantity of it. We just get too much of it. We are overexposed. Regular exposure desensitises us...Most psychiatrists are troubled by the notion of children - and adults, for that matter - being exposed to such a mass of violent material

(Evidence, 25.3.94, pp.735-7).

3.49 When specifically asked about any possible cumulative effects of immersion in violent media, Dr Milton suggested that while violence is only a small part of life, by concentrating on the topic, the media communicates a false picture to the public by making it appear a more significant factor than it is. He saw the process not so much as cumulative as "immunising". He argued that, based on his observations of serial killers, the more violence that is watched the higher the level of stimulation needed:

...there is an incremental effect based on the person's fantasy: enjoyment, getting more stimulation, more fantasy, more enjoyment. It is the process of addiction,... (Evidence, 25.3.94, p.742).

Dr Milton expressed a fundamental concern about the volume of powerful visual and auditory violence to which the community is now being exposed, with the new technologies making the violence look ever more realistic, even to the point of looking more realistic than in real life situations.

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3.50 Mr Rodney Blackmore, who deals with youth violence on a daily basis as Senior Children's Magistrate for NSW, informed the Committee that he could think of only one occasion where there had been any suggestion of immersion in violent media as a possible contributing factor in a crime of violence. He stated that, in his

experience:

...those who are involved in violence are people who have witnessed violence or experienced violence in their own homes more than anything. It seems to be a precipitating factor. I think there may well be a whole range of factors that cause people to be violent but that is

a principal one (Evidence, 25.3.94, p. 739).

Dr Milton confirmed that the issue was rarely raised before the courts, but on an occasion when he had researched the video viewing habits of a killer he had found evidence of exposure to considerable violent media. He suggested that the circumstance was now so common as to be unworthy of comment in court.

The effects of "pornography"

3.51 In this Chapter, the Committee has directed its attention particularly to the view most strongly held by witnesses that it is the effects on viewers of extreme depictions of physical violence and horror content that might justify the exclusion of R-rated material from pay TV. As is clear from the discussion, there are

considerable doubts about the generalisation of such arguments beyond a small number of cases. Violence and horror are two of the four key elements of what determines an R-rated film; the other two being strong language and depictions of sexual activity. While no evidence was specifically presented about the adverse

effects of strong language on viewers, there was considerable discussion about the effects of viewing material of a sexual nature.

3.52 It is relevant to note here that R-rated films are permitted to contain simulated or realistic implications of sexual intercourse and highly realistic depictions of sexual violence, while the X rating contains sexually explicit material without violence of any kind. The current X category was framed in December 1984 to remove all depictions of sexual violence and coercion and the category now permits only depictions of explicit sexual activity between consenting adults

(Evidence, 27.8.91, p.250) Any indications of sexual violence, coercion or non-consent exclude films from consideration as X, although those scenes may be classified as R as long as they are not exploitative or have a direct relevance to the narrative.

3.53 The Committee was advised that the main difference between the R and the X ratings in relation to sexual content was that depictions of 'penile penetration, without any disguise at all' (Evidence of Mr J Dickie, Chief Censor, 20.8.93, p. 459) lead to an X classification. As the Joint Select Committee on Video Material found

in its 1988 report:

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...a number of R classified videotapes are identical in theme, representation, intent and title as their X counterparts save only for 'explicit' closely detailed depictions of genitalia (Volume 1, p. 46).

3.54 The effects research in relation to material of a sexual nature is as sizeable and indeterminate as was the case on physical violence. Part of the problem relates to the use of the term "pornography" which, in the absence of an agreed definition, researchers use differently. Some researchers referring to pornography or "hard core porn" imply non-violent erotica. Others refer to the same material as "soft porn". Yet others refer to "violent pornography". Analysing research results is therefore hampered by a lack of comparability.

3.55 The debate about the effects of non-violent erotica is essentially over whether males use the material to masturbate or are aroused to the point of increasing the likelihood of sex crimes or anti-social behaviour engendered by the portrayal of women as mere objects for sexual gratification. The Institute of Criminology had argued that exposure to erotic stimuli enhances the risk of aggressive behaviour in a similar manner to exposure to music or sport because of increases in levels of physiological arousal.

3.56 The Committee discussed some of the evidence presented to it in relation to the suitability of non-violent material for pay TV in its June 1992 report. President of the Australian Society of Sex Educators, Researchers and Therapists, Ms Greta Goldberg had argued that such material was not harmful, even to children of 14 or

15 years or younger, although an element of 'grotesqueness' or material devoid of love and human consequences could have a distorting influence on vulnerable or immature people. She had argued that couple-watching of such material was an activity which the community might wish to encourage.

3.57 The National Women's Consultative Council and the Office of the Sex Discrimination Commissioner had raised concerns about stereotyping of women in the media, especially in unrealistic and degrading ways, and the possibility of pornography corrupting its viewers. The Committee had noted in its report that the women's movement was divided in its views on non-violent erotica, with an argument that the material should be prohibited because it is obscene and amounted to sex discrimination balanced by arguments that prohibition would not allow women to be portrayed in liberated, non-stereotyped sexual roles.

3.58 Professor Brent Waters, then Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the University of New South Wales, had stated that he would not see such material as suitable for screening on pay TV, unless there were some method of restricting the audience to adults (Evidence, 2.4.92, p,1217A). Dr Judith Reisman, Director of the Institute for Media Education in Arlington, Virginia had drawn the Committee's attention to the 1992 judgement of the Supreme Court of Canada in R

v Butler which redefined obscenity as sexually explicit material which involved violence or degradation.

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3.59 One of the few witnesses to express support for R-rated sexually explicit material was Ms Susan Raye, Managing Director of Video Ray Pty Ltd. Her company imports R-rated material which she described as 'depictions of adult sexual activity between consenting adults enjoying themselves in assertive and non­

demeaning, non-degrading situations.' She argued that a distinction should be made between R-rated erotic material and R-rated violent material (Evidence, 25.3.94, p. 683).

3.60 In relation to research, Video Ray's submission stated that 'we are not aware of any studies anywhere in the world which show any harm as a result of viewing R...-rated adult material' (ibid., p. 682). In evidence Ms Raye pointed to UK research by Cumberbatch and Howitt which, she argued, claimed that there is no link between viewing non-violent erotica and undesirable behaviour. She also referred to

a paper by Dr Alison King of Reading University which had found:

...that people who are habituated to watching erotic material have far healthier attitudes towards sex and women. She points out that every major researcher has found that soft-core pornography can inhibit

aggression in individuals and that long-term exposure to pornography appears to reduce the subject's arousal and thereby a potential to aggress (Evidence, 25.3.94, p. 684).

3.61 The Office of Film and Literature Classification's submission also made reference to the work of Cumberbatch and Howitt which was said to have found, after a comprehensive study of available research:

...that there is no clear evidence of the adverse effects of pornography (Submission 44/37, p.14).

The OFLC also referred to the conclusion of Alison King in her 1993 article Mystery and Imagination: The Case o f Pornography Effects, that:

It is clear that many more factors than pornography content are involved, and that these need to be studied in order to explain laboratory aggression against women. It is possible that a person's

beliefs and socialisation are far more important than pornography when trying to determine why they commit sex crimes (ibid., p.15).

3.62 While the witnesses quoted above flagged two major recent studies which purport to show the harmlessness of depictions of explicit sexual activity, there is considerable disagreement with these findings. The disagreement relates both to the direct physical and physiological effects of arousal from "pornography" and to the

"social" dimension, the effects on social attitudes and behaviour.

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3.63 Dr Judith Reisman stated in her submission to the Committee that:

While it is increasingly conceded that images of raped, tortured and violently humiliated women, and images of children sexually displayed tend to be harmful to the "models" and to society, much debate centres on what is often called "non-violent degrading pornography." Yet, it needs to be said that anything which lowers (degrades) a person or class is "violent" by definition.

and: Concern is growing for the explosion of pornography associated rapes of adults and children - by adults and children.. .pornography.. .demeans, subordinates and visually dehumanizes the entire class "woman" to all women, men and children. As such dehumanisation impacts upon hate crimes against women and children (often viewed as sexual or simple assaults), and as it - pornography - mitigates against women's ability to pursue their equal right to safety, to work, to play, to live, to liberty and the pursuit of happiness, as it violates women's self-esteem and restricts the vision of girls and women, pornography is unequally and differentially harmful to the class woman, and thus in violation of the laws of any civil society (Submission No.45/37, Appendix B, pages 2 and 25, emphases contained in original text).

3.64 The Women's Electoral Lobby (NSW) raised concerns that had been put previously to the Committee by the National Women's Consultative Council about the undesirability of stereotyping of women in the media. They argued that the greater accessibility of material of a sexual nature on pay TV may reinforce stereotyping in society, thereby running counter to the efforts of the Commonwealth and State governments to try to address domestic and sexual violence (Evidence, 25.3.94, p.668).

3.65 Many of the witnesses related media reports of sex crimes with depictions of "pornography"; arguing that the increased availability of the material can be correlated with increasing levels of such sex crimes as incest and rape.

3.66 Another suggestion of the harm of "pornography" is that mass murderers and serial killers have been shown to have immersed themselves in "pornographic" material before their horrible actions. The use of magazines such as Playboy, Penthouse and Hustler by the perpetrator of the Strathfield massacre, Wade Frankum, is frequently cited in this respect. American serial killer, Jeffrey Dahmer, who was also said to have a preference for pornographic literature, had killed 17 young men, dismembered them, preserved and even eaten parts of some of their

bodies.

3.67 The Committee has discussed the copycat argument above and referred to the concept of the "vulnerable minority". On the evidence before the Committee, this argument applies equally to sexually explicit as to violent material, leading to the

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general conclusion that other behavioural factors have led to any anti-social behaviour, with the media source as an aggravating element. While the Frankum and Dahmer crimes are horrendous, these case studies do at least demonstrate that, if there is a linkage as claimed between "pornography" and such actions, women are

not necessarily the victims.

3.68 Professor Thomson's comment to the Committee cited above about the audience adopting the particular type of behaviour to the extent that a person has exposure to a particular type of behaviour is relevant. Material depicting sexual violence may, with repeated exposure, desensitise viewers to the effects of violence

against women. For men who already harbour hostility towards women and who already have sexually violent behaviour patterns, sexual violence may occur. This is discussed in detail in Chapter 4.

Effects on children

3.69 One of the bases for the definition of R in the OFLC's classification guidelines is that "material considered likely to be harmful to those under 18 years" should be rated R. Similarly, material which is "likely to disturb, harm or offend those under 15 years to the extent that it should be restricted to those 15 years and over" is to

be classified as MA. Chronological age has considerable emphasis placed on it as a determining factor of what is legal or suitable for viewing under the OFLC's classification scheme. The Committee assumes that the 18 years age distinction to which R- and X-rated material is restricted is based on the age of majority, which

says nothing about the level of an individual's maturity to cope with media depictions, especially of an "adult" nature. As with voting, the line has to be drawn.

3.70 Not only is research in relation to children being harmed by access to R-rated material not available, as was the case with adult access to such material, there is a similar level of disputation in the research community about the equivocal nature of research results in related fields, particularly in relation to the effects of television

on children's behaviour. The Australian Children's Television Action Committee informed the Committee that Australian children will see up to 87,000 acts of violence on television during their school years and that there are at least 3000 pieces of research which show a connection between television and the behaviour of

children and adults. The Committee therefore sees the views of child psychologists and educationalists as significant in whether harm is caused to children by access to R-rated material.

3.71 Child psychologists recognise that children pass through several stages in their moral development as they age, which may well be important in determining the impact of a violent film or particular scene. Given that there is no linkage between chronological age and levels of maturity, the children's "moral" age, and

given that several research studies have shown that children even of primary school age have reasonably ready access to R- and X-rated material, it raises the difficult issue of what "harm" is intended to be avoided in the restrictions in R-rated movies and whether it applies only to particular age groups.

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3.72 The OFLC's current approach to considering what might constitute material harmful to children from exposure to the content of a film it is in the process of classifying; whether it is a scene of high level violence, sexual activity, bad language or horror scenes, is unknown. Neither its submission to the Committee nor its general publications on interpretation of the guidelines describe its approach to this issue.

3.73 The debate in relation to the classification of video and computer games has some relevance to this discussion. The Committee notes, in particular, that a special classification of G8 was recommended by the OFLC after discussions with the community about the likely impact of video and computer games. The purpose of the G8 category was to distinguish between material suitable for the youngest child without parental supervision, which is rated G, and material considered suitable for children eight years and over which might contain elements which might disturb or distress very young children. A submission from Dr Susan Roberts, of the Institute of Early Childhood at Macquarie University, had stressed that:

. very young children cannot distinguish between fiction and non-fiction and so may confuse even mild, stylised violence with non-fictional, realistic representations of violence; and

. horror frightens young children...horror movies and some science fiction programs induce overwhelming and unmanageable feelings of fear in young children (In Report on: Public submissions on draft computer games classification guidelines, OFLC, January 1994, p.18).

As with equivalent film classifications, the G and G8 classifications are advisory only and inform parents about the nature of the games' contents. There is no prohibition on parents from buying or allowing the playing of G8 games by younger children.

3.74 Professor Brent Waters, who has been a member of the Film and Literature Board of Review since September 1992, was Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of New South Wales when he appeared to give evidence to the Committee in April 1992. He informed the Committee that the OFLC asks him for advice when it is concerned about what sort of effect a particular film or piece of literature may have on a child. Professor Waters pointed to research that many children watch television in an unregulated environment and to a 1987 South Australian study that showed that the films most favoured by a group of 10- and 11-year-old children were generally R-rated.

3.75 Professor Waters was asked to comment on the practice of refusing classification to films depicting child pornography and sexual violence against children. He stated that he supported the concept of banning to ensure that it was not accessible by children. He stated that:

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Not only is there a likelihood that it will provide them with some models of conduct which would be highly inappropriate, in terms of precocious sexual activity and that sort of thing, but it is also quite frightening to children. Something which has been lost in the debate

about the effect of violence on television is the fact that it probably scares kids a lot more than it turns them violent (Evidence, 2.4.92, p. 1199).

Professor Waters added that prohibition also ensured that the availability of a market for such material ran a risk of a production industry developing in Australia. Professor Quin made the point, however, that banning risks driving such material underground, outside the control of the system (Evidence, 15.6.94, p.1002).

3.76 Professor Waters stated his view in relation to the Committee's current terms of reference in a supplementary submission in February 1994:

In my view, these data [from research on the effects of television on children] lead to the inescapable conclusion that R-rated material with a violent content can be expected to have a negative impact on some children. It will effect them immediately as well as shaping their attitudes in a permanent way if the diet of such materials is fairly

heavy (Submission No. 35/37, p.l).

He described two different types of outcome: some children become more inclined to use aggression and confrontation as a means of conflict resolution, based on the models of aggressive behaviour seen in the media, and less assertive children generalise the violence seen on television into the real world which they then see as

a more frightening place than it really is. Professor Waters saw these effects as both real and significant.

3.77 Both Dr Elizabeth MacMahon and Dr Judyth Watson, a Member of the Western Australian Legislative Assembly, called for R-rated material to be banned from pay TV on public health grounds, particularly children's health. Both witnesses expressed their concern about harm to children directly by adults who were

themselves the subject of adverse media influence.

3.78 Dr MacMahon pointed to evidence that some child molesters 'use pornography and violent videos for their own arousal and empowerment and to overcome the resistance of their victims' (Evidence, 4.2.94, p. 605). The effects on the child victim of such sexual abuse is often intense and prolonged.

3.79 In relation to children suffering adverse effects from the media, Dr MacMahon cited a 1987 report by the National Health and Medical Research Council which linked TV viewing with aggressive violent behaviour, obesity, poor academic performance, precocious sexuality and use of drugs or alcohol. She added, however:

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We simply do not know the effect of video pornography on a normal child and separating this out from the whole future of the child is extremely difficult (Evidence, 4.2.94, p.606).

3.80 Dr Watson referred to research which had shown that children as young as 14 months of age demonstrably observe and incorporate behaviours seen on television. The researcher had argued that the impact of television on children should be seen in the context of normal child development, where infants are born with an instinctive capacity and desire to imitate adult behaviour. Infants do not, however, also possess an instinctive capacity for gauging whether a behaviour should be imitated (Television and violence: the scale of the problem and where to go from here, by Dr Brendon Centrewall, in the Journal o f the American Medical Association, 10 June 1992, Vol 267, No. 22). Dr Watson argued that young children who view violent television will go on to become violent adolescents and adults. Aggression is problem-solving behaviour learned early in life and is therefore

resistant to change. The levels of aggression, once established in childhood, tend to be stable over the lifespan (Evidence, 15.6.94, p.1012).

3.81 The representatives of the Social Issues Committee of the Association of Heads of Independent Schools presented the educationalist's perspective to the Committee. The Association's representatives had primarily addressed their concerns about the effects of video games and their evidence had alerted the Committee to the games' anti-educational foci. In relation to R-rated material, the Association informed the Committee that it did not have an undivided opinion on the issue but that it saw the fundamental question as the restriction on access to minors through technology. The Association's representatives noted the frequent use of media role models in playground play. But when asked to comment about children's behavioural

changes over the past decade or so Mr Tony Hill, then Headmaster of Melbourne Grammar, commented:

...[are we] observing more violence, more sexist behaviours and more racism. My purely personal response to that is no, but I believe we would be seeing a quicker reduction of those attitudes if we did not have countervailing forces (Evidence, 4.2.94, p.545).

The Association's representatives made the point that, while children's behaviour had not changed, the proliferation of violent media seemed to have led to the desensitisation of quite young children's attitudes to violence, leading to concerns about their reactions when adults.

3.82 Reverend Jenny Willshire, a Member of the Children's Ministry Unit of the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle observed the changed behaviour of young people over the past 15 years. She told the Committee of:

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A lack of respect for people and for other people, a lack of sensitivity to other people and a lack of respect for teachers and carers. It has become a very self-centred environment...It is very hard to get young people to think of others, to get them to think of wider issues

(Evidence, 25.3.94, pp 757-8).

3.83 Evidence of harm to children from watching media violence was likened by many witnesses to the harm from smoking. It is latent in its effect, the aggression building up over a period of time until it finally develops to a point of violent behaviour. The argument is that it is almost impossible to sheet causality to any one

media source because of the accumulation of aggressive and desensitising attitudes within the child. Thus, the argument goes, each and every observation of an R-rated film adds fuel to the developmental fire.

3.84 Professor Graeme Turner advised the Committee that even very small children will interpret the modality, the relationship, between a television depiction and the real world. They are comforted by cartoons because they are not real. They will be concerned about depictions involving people, however, because of the process they are undertaking of trying to understand life through the depicted narrative. He argued that children watch cartoons in order to learn the distinction between fantasy and real life, as part of a maturational cognitive process. By the age of about eight years they can follow a narrative and interpret the difference between the plot and the subplot, and also have some idea of the relation between fictional depiction

and reality. Professor Turner stressed that a more profound effect on a child would come from a parent's smack rather than from watching violent behaviour on a TV cartoon.

3.85 However, while Professor Turner acknowledged a concern for children who fail to interpret the modality between the image and the real world appropriately or correctly, he rejected the concept of individual desensitisation. He stated that:

I think there is a kind of illogicality there. The argument is that you watch violence on television...and you keep on doing it because you know that it is not real, it is not really happening. But the argument assumes that you then lower your sensitivity to real violence and are

therefore more open to being tolerant of it when it occurs. My view is that the only reason why you watch so much of it is because you know that it is not real, so I do not see any logical reason why you would then change your attitude to real violence (Evidence, 19.5.94, pp 885­

6).

Professor Turner summarised his position as favouring a lot less violence on television, not because of research findings, but from a moral humanist perspective. He is concerned that viewers of drama shows are exposed to assumptions about power in society which might make them see certain people as having more right

to commit violence than others.

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3.86 The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Employment, Education and Training considered the effects of media violence in its March 1994 Report on Violence in Australian Schools entitled Sticks and Stones. Its report stated that the influence exerted on children by the media and the entertainment industry in general was overwhelmingly identified in evidence before the Committee as a contributor to the acceptance of, and use of, violence by children. In relation to R-rated material the Committee noted a call from the Australian Council for Children's Films and Television for recognition of the harmful effects of R-rated material on children. The Council claimed:

The recommendations that came out of (the Senate inquiry (sic) into the video tape industry) made one glaring conceptual error: while they made it illegal for a person to show an R-rated or X-rated video to children, they exempted parents, and I believe that is conceptually wrong...what is clear is that parents are filtering out the sexuality pretty effectively, what they are not filtering out is the violence (Sticks

and Stones report, p.26).

Harm to children

3.87 In relation to actual observable harm direct to children from material of an R-rated or equivalent nature, rather than its long-term attitudinal impact, the Committee's attention was drawn to only one specific circumstance.

3.88 The major circumstance of harm to a child related to the evidence of distress exhibited by children exposed to a particular film. The Committee received a submission from Mr and Mrs Gonzalez of Willetton, Western Australia in which they described the traumatising of their 8 year-old daughter by the film Aliens on television. Dr Judyth Watson drew to the Committee's attention a British report which suggested that two 10 year-old-boys had suffered post-traumatic stress disorder after watching a program on television called Ghostwatch. Symptoms included:

...sleep disturbances with problems settling down to sleep; waking at night; nightmares; fear of the dark and of sleeping alone; difficulties in concentrating; impaired memory; persistent intrusive thoughts and images of the traumatic event; raised levels of anxiety; panic attacks; separation anxiety and clinging behaviour; and depressed mood and irritability (Post-traumatic stress disorder in children after television programmes, by D Simons and WR Silveira, in British Medical Journal Volume 308, 5 February 1994).

It should be noted that both boys were described as having anxiety traits and overdependent relationships. After relaxation and anxiety management treatment, both boys recovered. The authors concluded that "risk factors for the development

of post-traumatic stress disorder in children remain inconclusive." It was reported

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that in its 1993 annual report the British Board of Film Classification stated it had taken advice from a professor of child psychiatry at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London who had said that "nightmares did not do long-term damage to children" (Jurasic Park Tops Film Censor Complaint List, Press Association, London, 1

November 1994).

3.89 What this evidence suggests is that media violence in general is potentially harmful to children, especially those under the age of about eight years who have not yet developed to the stage where they can separate fact from fiction. What the evidence also suggests, however, is that the adverse consequences of violent/horror

media will affect some children who may already have developed behavioural or emotional problems. The media stimulus overlays existing predispositions.

3.90 Professor Robyn Quin, who is an Associate Professor in Media Studies at Edith Cowan University and who was acting Chair of the Film Censorship Board of Western Australia at the time she gave evidence to the Committee, put a somewhat different perspective on the issue. After making the point that children

will access R-rated material either on video or pay TV and that it was better to concentrate on education rather than prohibition, Professor Quin made the following general comment:

I do not believe that it has been conclusively established that there is a causative link between media violence and violent offences. Nevertheless, the research does indicate, I think, that for some people, some of the time and under certain circumstances, exposure to media violence will increase the probability of aggressive behaviour, even

though we cannot be sure how this process works or who it is likely to affect (Evidence, 15.6.94, p.986).

3.91 Professor Quin added that the failure to find a scientifically convincing causal link between television viewing and violence did not mean that no link existed. She pointed to the conclusive evidence that violence in the community was increasing, including among children. However, she noted that the types of crimes that are

increasing among young children are not the sorts of dramatic violence that is shown in R-rated films. She pointed to theft of children's joggers, clothes and, in overseas countries, football violence. Professor Quin suggested that quiz shows, which are normally thought of as harmless entertainment, may contribute to juvenile violence and delinquency more than shows containing overt violence. She

stated:

By equating success and happiness with the possession of expensive consumer goods, these shows constantly point out the gap between this vision of the good life and the lives that many children actually lead and the opportunities open to them. It is arguable that this may well

generate feelings of frustration and resentment that feed into acts of violence, vandalism and theft...I do not think that, if I was thinking

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about the relationship of the media to that act [stealing expensive running shoes], I would be looking so much at a violent program as I would at a consumer society program...(Evidence, 15.6.94, pp. 987-8 and 996).

3.92 Another important dimension of the debate about the effect of television on children which is rarely canvassed is the positive role of the media in children's development. Former Associate Professor Grant Noble of the Psychology Department at the University of New England sought to address this issue in a paper entitled Children, Television and Morality. Professor Noble studied the effects of the media on children for some 20 years. In his paper he expressed the view that the issue of television and violence had been "done to death" while the relationship between television viewing and moral behaviour was a much more important topic.

3.93 Professor Noble stated: "There is no doubt in my mind that children do watch television in order to learn about the wider society and what customs are both acceptable and unacceptable in that society." He accepted the argument of the "cultivation theorists" that television does define what is acceptable morality in the real world. However, he argued that there are a vast number of moralities on display in television and there is no one dominant form which will implant on children. In effect he argued that researchers who see only violence on the screen as undesirable are missing the point that from the child's perspective such models of "immoral" behaviour may be serving as a model of how not to behave. Professor Quin also pointed to research of Hodge and Tripp published as Children and Television: A Semiotic Approach which found that reality testing is a decisive factor determining the effect of media messages and that media violence is qualitatively different from real violence.

3.94 Professor Gillard also said that:

...I [do] not have a victim view of the audience...I think that much of what children take from television is what they need. They are not critical viewers in the way that they can express an opinion, but they are not stupid either. Much of what they are watching late at night they are getting something out of (Evidence, 4.2.94, p.564).

3.95 Professor Cunningham referred to the findings of the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal's T V Violence in Australia report:

It was found that viewers, including children, clearly distinguish between symbolic or stylised - fictional - violence and realistic violence as found in news and current affairs. Program categories which are the staples of effects research, such as cartoons, are effectively downplayed by the Tribunal (Evidence, 19.5.94, p. 823).

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3.96 The April 1994 study on behalf of the British Board of Film Classification entitled Young Offenders and the Media: Viewing habits and preferences was referred to above. Its major finding was that there were few differences between the reading, viewing and game playing habits of the two groups. In particular:

. the tastes of offenders and schoolboys were similar, with both groups preferring mainstream films and their television viewing was dominated by soap operas and similar dramas;

. the favourite film among both offenders and the schoolchildren was Terminator 2 and their favourite stars were the likes of Arnold

Schwarzenegger, Jean Claude Van Damme and Stephen Seagal. These actors take part in some of the most violent "action" films but they always play the role of the hero who defeats villains and criminals; and

. an analysis of the particular films nominated by offenders as their favourites, some of which were in the "18" category, showed that none of the films would lend themselves to obsessional viewing of the process or techniques of violent crime.

The Committee notes, however, that even though the viewing habits of the two groups were similar, behaviours will be affected by other factors in their lives, such as family background. The British Board of Film Classification announced that this research was only the first stage in a long-term program into the possible links between screen violence and violence in real life. Because this initial research

showed that offenders watch the same material as comparable-aged schoolchildren, the BBFC will examine whether the backgrounds or temperament of the juvenile offenders lead them to interpret differently what they see.

3.97 Professor Graeme Turner provided the following summary comment on effects research into children's responses to television, that:

There has been no research which establishes a conclusive link between specific television programs and specific personal behaviours. Forty years of research into children and television has produced alarmingly little in the way of knowledge about how children watch

TV, primarily because it has focused on the question of a direct measurable influence. There are other things that could have been looked at, like the relationship between what happens on TV, what

happens at school, and what happens in the home and the various kinds of knowledge that children acquire there. That might have been more profitable than some research practices, particularly those in the US in the 1960s and 1970s (Evidence, 19.5.94, p.875).

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Summary

3.98 As stated in its June 1992 report in relation to R-rated material:

The Committee is concerned about the levels of violence in the community and the role that depictions of violence, sexual or otherwise, may play in the formulation of attitudes to violence. It is particularly mindful of its responsibility to take into account the concerns of the community in relation to portrayals of violence by visual means (Final Report, p. 67).

3.99 In its examination of the classification of video and computer games the Committee developed this view to a further stage that, on the basis of the evidence before it at the time, games equivalent to R and X ratings should be banned. There was no research evidence available to the Committee in that instance to buttress its arguments; obviously there has to be a time-lag before research can catch up with assessing the impact of any new technology. The likely adverse effects of the playing of violent or sexually explicit video games, especially by children, could only be imputed on the basis of concerns expressed about the behaviour of children exposed to the relatively passive media of film and television. However, the Committee was not prepared to take the risk with the health and well-being of the nation's children that, some time after the material had been released onto the market, research evidence would be finalised that proved that such interactive material should not have been released. The harmful effects would already be established among the vulnerable.

3.100 The Committee is confronted with a substantially different situation in this instance, which deals only with existing material becoming available through a new medium, rather than through completely new technology. The types of material subject to claims of being harmful are already depicted on films, television and on videos. It is already in the homes of any occupant over the age of 18 years who wishes it there, where it is liable to be accessed by minors. The Committee does not applaud this situation. It retains the concerns expressed in its June 1992 report that there may already be too much violent media possibly contributing to a more violent, less empathetic culture in the Australian community. It certainly does not condone the behaviour of so-called "adults" who permit such exposure to minors. It is most concerned at the contribution violent media may be making to increasing domestic violence in Aboriginal communities. It is appalled at the use by paedophiles or incestuous parents of sexual material for the purpose of seducing children.

3.101 Clearly the need for research into the association between violent media and anti-social behaviour must continue. The House of Representatives Committee's Sticks and Stones report stated that "increased recognition by these [media and entertainment] industries, the community and parents, of the social impact of mass media violence on the young, is imperative to counter the current pervasive media view that violence is acceptable and a normal part of life." It recommended that:

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the Minister for Communications and the Arts commission a national research project to examine the effects of television, video, film and video games on the learning outcomes and behaviour of Australian children (p.27).

This Committee welcomes and strongly endorses that Committee's recommendation. It is equally important, however, that the community continues to debate its attitude to such research findings; the topic is too important for complacency.

3.102 The information contained in this chapter about research and clinical evidence is both disturbing and challenging. While the results of the formal research studies are mixed and inconclusive, if not contradictory, the anecdotal evidence of practitioners is powerfully consistent. It certainly indicates that some adult viewers

of R-rated material on pay TV may do harm to others. It also clearly suggests that some children exposed to R-rated material on pay TV may do harm to others or suffer emotional disturbance.

3.103 Most experts who argue against a finding of causality tend to agree that the general desensitisation of the community to violence by media violence may lead, over time, to a change in Australia's culture towards one which is more accommodating of violence. The Committee would be concerned about the extent to which R-rated material on pay TV may add to this process.

3.104 The Women's Electoral Lobby (NSW) put forward the proposition that until such time as a causal link between violent content and aggressive and violent behaviour is disproved, children's access to such material should be restricted. This proposition, by reversing the onus of proof to one which requires the adoption of a

cautious approach in the absence of proof, encapsulates the Committee's view in relation to the "effects" issue. It recognises the rights of adults to choose what they wish to view while rightly concentrating on the protection of children from potential harm.

3.105 The Committee notes that the potential harm from exposure to R-rated material already exists through existing media. It has given particular consideration to the extra risk of exposure to such material through pay TV, an additional passive

medium. There is considerable evidence that primary aged children already have fairly ready access to R- and X-rated material, almost certainly on videotapes, a situation which will prevail whether or not such material is permitted on pay TV. It is also clear that adults of a violent predisposition or who seek out violent

entertainment will be minimally inconvenienced by any prohibition on pay TV. In neither case, however, would the Committee wish to make inappropriate material more readily available to disturbed or immature personalities.

3.106 The Committee believes that the appropriate response to the lessons of the research and clinical evidence should be to concentrate attention on those aspects of the content of R-rated material which give specific cause for concern, such as

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depictions of violence, sexual violence, and degrading and demeaning sexually exploitative material, which it addresses in its discussion of the definition of the rating in Chapter 4.

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CHAPTER 4

THE DEFINITION OF R-RATED MATERIAL

Background

4.1 The function of the guidelines for the classification of films and videotapes is to explain the way in which the statutory classification criteria are applied by the Film Censorship Board and the Film and Literature Board of Review. These guidelines have been gradually evolving over an extended period. The guidelines are

now subject to the endorsement of all State and Territory Censorship Ministers.

4.2 In relation to the R rating, the guidelines are currently as follows:

Why a movie is rated R 18+

R 18+ Restricted (restricted to adults 18 vears and over)

Material considered likely to be harmful to those under 18 years and/or possibly offensive to some sections of the adult community warrants an Έ' classification.

Language: There are virtually no restrictions on language in 'R' films. Sex: Sexual intercourse or other sexual activity may be realistically implied or simulated.

Violence: Highly realistic and explicit depictions of violence may be shown, but not if unduly detailed, relished or cruel. Depictions of sexual violence are acceptable only to the extent that they are necessary to the narrative and not exploitative.

Other: Drug abuse may be depicted, but not in an advocatory manner. Extreme "horror" special effects usually warrant an 'R'.

The same guidelines are used for the consideration of films for both public exhibition at cinemas and on homevideo.

4.3 The R classification is also defined by implication by the definitions of the classifications on either side; the Refused Classification (RC) for certain categories of more extreme material, X 18+ rating in relation only to sexually explicit material, and MA 15+ for material of a less graphic nature. For ease of reference, the OFLC's

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current Guidelines for the Classification o f Films and Videotapes, dated May 1993, is included as Appendix 6.

4.4 A film or video will be refused classification if it includes: depictions of child sexual abuse, bestiality, sexual acts accompanied by offensive fetishes, exploitative incest fantasies, unduly detailed and/or relished acts of extreme violence or cruelty; explicit or unjustifiable depictions of sexual violence against non-consenting persons, or detailed instruction or encouragement in matters of crime or violence or the abuse of proscribed drugs. Apart from their gross offensiveness by Australian community standards, these activities are generally such serious breaches of Australian law that even their fictional depiction is considered totally unacceptable.

4.5 The OFLC's March 1994 submission outlined the considerations that might be generally applied in its application of the R guidelines:

Language:

Sex:

Violence:

Other:

While no words are proscribed, it is possible that sexually violent language could contribute to a decision to refuse classification.

Visuals of actual sex (ie of oral/genital contact or of sexual penetration) are not generally permitted. Exceptions might include bona fide medical or sex education films.

Graphic, realistic and bloody violence is allowed, but not if it is dwelt upon to an extent that invites vicarious pleasure from the viewer.

While depictions of sexual violence may be highly realistic, such scenes must not be exploitative and must have a direct relevance to the narrative as, for example, in the exploration of a rape victim's dilemma as presented in the film 'Extremities'.

In other films depictions would be limited to a short sequence which establishes that a sexual assault is about to happen, or has happened, but does not dwell on the crime.

Depictions which instruct in, or condone the use of illicit drugs are not permitted, but the subject of drug abuse can be examined in some detail.

The violent 'horror' effects in science fiction or horror films are often mitigated by the fantasy elements of such films (Submission No. 44/37, p.18).

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4.6 In its publicity material, such as in its Information Bulletins and its annual reports, the OFLC has sought to provide explanation of the role of the guidelines and their interpretation by the two Boards, the Film Censorship Board and the Film and Literature Board of Review. The OFLC stresses that the classifications should

be seen as grading films from the mildest to the strongest. On the issue of flexibility in interpretation, the OFLC states:

While every effort is made to interpret the guidelines consistently and to make classification assessments objectively, there must always be a degree of latitude to take into consideration such things as the intent of the film maker (is the film serious, or purely an entertainment -

perhaps a comedy, a musical, or aimed at kick-boxing fans?) and the integrity with which it is made (is it making a statement about the human condition; do the love scenes have relevance to the plot, or are they exploitative, there simply to titillate?). Classification laws also

direct that consideration be given to the literary, artistic or educational merit of a film. It is in considerations such as these that views will differ. In arriving at each decision all these conflicting views must be balanced and a classification applied which will give potential viewers

a clear indication of what they can expect to see and hear (OFLC and Film and Literature Board of Review, Report on Activities, 1992-93, p. 21).

4.7 It should be noted that when the guidelines were most recently revised in 1988 (other than in relation to the introduction of the MA category in 1992) the Censorship Ministers also asked both boards to tighten up the "top end" of both the M and R ratings because of concerns about the extreme violence being permitted

(Evidence, 5.8.93, p.354; 20.8.93, pages 423 and 425).

4.8 The Prime Minister personally entered the debate when he announced to the November 1992 Family Summit that the M category would be split into two new categories, because of concerns about the broad content of the M category. The Council of Australian Governments meeting in December 1992 ratified the Prime

Minister's proposals for a new MA (Mature Accompanied) classification.

4.9 However, there remains considerable community concern about the level of violence permitted under current classification guidelines, as demonstrated in the attitudinal studies outlined in Chapter 2, a concern shared by the Committee and one to which the Committee has paid particular attention.

4.10 In this Chapter the Committee examines the suitability of the existing guidelines for pay TV from a number of perspectives. After some introductory discussion of the concept of a single classification system for all media depictions and the Committee's previous involvement in classification issues, the Committee

examines calls for the complete removal of R-rated material from the classification system, then outlines suggestions for reforms of a more moderate nature before finally examining a proposal by one witness for significant reform of the system.

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Single classification system

4.11 When the Committee commenced its first inquiry into R-rating in mid-1991, no decision had been made about the classification system for material to be shown on pay TV. At that time television used a different classification system from film and video. This led a number of witnesses to the Committee to urge the Committee to recommend the adoption of the television classification system for pay TV, thereby effectively eliminating R and X material, since television's then strongest AO classification was set at a threshold below film and video's R classification.

4.12 Criteria for the AO category shown in the then Australian Broadcasting Tribunal's Television Program Standards were:

Violence: May be realistically depicted if appropriate to the story line or program context; not unduly bloody or horrific, and not presented as desirable in its own right.

Sex and Nudity: Intimate sexual behaviour may only be discreetly implied or simulated. Must be relevant to the story line or program context. Portrayal of nudity where relevant to the story line or program context.

Language: The occasional use of offensive language must be appropriate to the story line or program context (Evidence, 23.9.1991, p.416).

It should be noted that, like the film and video guidelines, these criteria are open to individual interpretation by the programmers.

4.13 A second part of the Prime Minister's November 1992 announcement to the Family Summit was that there would be introduced a single classification system for film, video and television. The former television classifications would be replaced by those of the OFLC for films and videos. M films could not be transmitted on television before 8.30 p.m. and MA films not before 9.00 p.m. However, nothing stronger than the old AO classification would be allowed under the new guidelines.

4.14 As the then Minister for Transport and Communications, Mr Kim Beazley, had stated in a letter to the Committee in November 1991:

Currently there is a great deal of consumer confusion over the use of different classification systems for television, cinema and video. This was recognised by the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal (ABT) in its 1990 TV Violence in Australia report. It echoed the findings of the Joint Select Committee on Video Material and the Social Development

Committee of the Victorian Parliament (Evidence, 4.11.1991, p. 641N).

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The introduction of a single classification system led to witnesses arguing the advantages for viewers and parents of only having to understand a single system and urging the Committee not to complicate these developments with another definition for R- and X-rated material for pay TV. The OFLC, for example, informed the Committee that some 79% of those surveyed in the joint OFLC/ABT research in

1992 into community attitudes relating to the classification of films and videos had agreed with the statement that the classification scheme for pay TV, assuming there were adequate controls on access, should be based on the single system that exists

for film and video (Submission No. 44/37, p.13).

4.15 The Committee accepts the advantages that have accrued to the community from the single classification system for film, video and television. The Committee also notes that the community's demand that television be subject to more rigorous standards in comparison with film and video has been able to be met within the

single classification system, although it accepts the argument of the National Viewers' and Listeners' Association that there is scope for confusion when films rated R can be shown on television as M. It also notes the opposition of the

Australian Broadcasting Tribunal in its TV Violence in Australia report to a common system of classification because of its concerns about the likelihood of more permissive programming on television.

4.16 On balance, however, the Committee accepts that the provisions of the single classification system that are now in general use in the community should be extended to pay TV. As discussed below, the Committee is nonetheless concerned about the current guidelines for R being applied to pay TV without modification.

Prior Committee considerations

4.17 The Committee has twice recently addressed the issue of the adequacy of the guidelines by which R-rated material is defined. In its October 1993 Report on Video and Computer Games and Classification Issues the Committee examined in detail the manner of release of the film Salo with an R rating by the Film and Literature

Board of Review. In particular the Committee had spent much of its public hearings in relation to that matter in discussion with witnesses from the OFLC about their interpretation of the words contained in the guidelines, bearing in mind the OFLC's position on the need for flexibility in interpretation reproduced above.

4.18 As the Committee wrote in its report:

The problem the Committee finds with this situation is that not only is there no coherent system of precedent established but also there is massive scope for idiosyncratic decision-making. The end result is that the community can never be sure what decision will come out of the system (Report, p. 52).

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The Committee made the following three recommendations:

. that the terminology of the guidelines, especially in relation to the Refused category, be revised and clarified to limit as far as possible scope for varying interpretation in relation to material of a sexual or violent nature;

. that the OFLC's guidelines be amended for video releases to ensure that higher standards are applied to material permitted on video than in equivalent categories for film for cinema release; and

. that the various regulatory bodies co-ordinate their activities to establish and maintain definitions which will ensure that there is uniform interpretation of terms and expressions used in their respective guidelines (p.54).

4.19 The Government rejected these recommendations in its response, which was published in the Senate Hansard on 22 September 1994 at pages 1272 to 1275. In relation specifically to the Committee's three recommendations the Federal Attorney- General, Mr Michael Lavarch, wrote:

The classification guidelines cannot and should not be drafted to include every possible nuance of film expression. They are not exhaustive, they are intended to be flexible enough to cope with changes in community standards over a period of time and to allow for unique films to be assessed on their merits and not solely on a predetermined list of proscribed elements. Equally, the Censorship Ministers have expressed their views to both Censorship and Review

Boards that violent and sexually violent material should be dealt with more strictly. In accordance with Ministers' wishes, they are already highly prescriptive in the restricted and refused categories. The guidelines shared by the Boards recognise the Ministers' and community concern in this regard.

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The recommendation that video releases be dealt with more strictly contradicts current policy which sets the film and video criteria at identical thresholds. There are persuasive arguments that the system should continue in its present uniform form to promote

community understanding of, and confidence in, the classification process, and to provide business certainty on a national basis. The present policy also includes the proposition that the provision of classification advice about films and videos to the community should

be as clear and concise as possible so that parents, in particular, can choose entertainment for themselves and those in their care. The classification system also gives notice to those with more delicate sensibilities that this material is inappropriate for them. Accordingly, the second part of the recommendation is also not

supported.

The third part of the recommendation deals with the prerogative of the Censorship Board and the Review Board, while working from the same guidelines endorsed by Censorship Ministers, to be able to interpret the guidelines in different ways according to their

respective perception of a film. Both Boards work within statutory and administrative criteria. Within that criteria, members of both Boards are entitled to apply their interpretation of those criteria as they see them. Accordingly, the third part of the recommendation is

also not supported.

4.20 The Committee also gave consideration to the wording of the guidelines for R-rated films and videos when it examined exposure draft guidelines for the proposed classification of R-rated video and computer games issued by the OFLC in November 1993 and final draft guidelines issued in January 1994 following the

OFLC's consideration of public comment on the draft guidelines. It is sufficient to note here that the R and X classifications envisaged in these guidelines did not proceed, as all State and Territory Governments shared the concerns expressed by the Committee in its October 1993 Report on Video and Computer Games and

Classification Issues about the suitability of R- and X-rated games, and such games are now refused classification.

4.21 The OFLC's final draft guidelines for R-rated interactive games were in the following terms:

Material which falls into this category...would contain 'full motion' images considered likely to be harmful to those under 18 years and/or possibly offensive to some sections of the adult community. Elements which might warrant this category would include:

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- depictions of realistic violence, but not if detailed, relished or cruel (eg excessive and serious violence such as realistic depictions of dismemberment accompanied by loss of blood to real life images).

- extreme 'horror' scenarios or special effects.

- nudity, including genitalia, or simulated sexual activity. Depictions of sexual violence, coercion or non-consent are not permitted in this category.

- use of sexually explicit language.

- depictions which encourage the use of tobacco or alcohol, or which depict drug abuse (Report on: Public Submissions on Draft Computer Games Classification Guidelines, OFLC, January 1994).

In a letter to the Federal Attorney-General and all State and Territory Censorship Ministers in December 1993, the Committee noted the declaratory style in which the computer games guidelines were drafted, such that the presence of specific elements might warrant a game's classification as R. The Committee compared this approach favourably with the approach of the film/video guidelines for R which state what may be shown in the category. The Committee suggested that the redrafting of the film/video guidelines in a declaratory style would lessen scope for varying interpretation, thus addressing one of the Committee's concerns expressed in its October 1993 Report on Video and Computer Games and Classification Issues.

4.22 The Committee also noted the specific prohibition in the computer games guidelines of 'depictions of sexual violence, coercion or non-consent of any kind', which would have been more restrictive than the equivalent film/video guideline.

4.23 Interestingly, despite the Attorney-General's rejection of the concept of differing guidelines for films and video because, inter alia, of a desire to promote community understanding of, and confidence in, the classification process, at their meeting on 18 February 1994 the Censorship Ministers unanimously agreed to the classification scheme for video and computer games to be similar to that for films and videos, yet 'directed that the guidelines be more strictly applied than those for film and video' because of community concern about the possible harmful effects, particularly on young children, of the interactive nature of these games (News

Release by the Attorney-General, Computer Games Classification Scheme Underway, 11 April 1994). Mr Lavarch indicated that, in practice, this directive would mean that the level of violence that might attract an M rating in film and video would likely attract an MA rating in a computer game.

4.24 While the Committee recognises that film and video are both passive media, unlike interactive video and computer games, its recommendation for stricter guidelines for video than for film had arisen from concerns about the access by

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children to R-rated material on video when R-rated material is not designed for their access. Apparently, according to the Attorney-General's arguments, the single classification system for film, videos, television and computer games can accommodate variations as between film/video content and that of television and

computer games, but cannot accommodate differences between films and videos.

GENERAL COMMENT ON THE GUIDELINES

4.25 The most consistent message in evidence presented to the Committee was the concern that the OFLC classifications appeared to have an excessively liberal approach to depictions of violence, especially of sexual violence.

4.26 The following extract from the submission of the Diocese of Newcastle of the Anglican Church of Australia expressed a view representative of the general concern:

It would appear that violence is far more tolerated and given less stringent classifications than sex. However, sex can be a positive visual and psychological experience in the correct context, whereas violence is rarely a positive issue. Simply bare female breasts will see an 'M' or

'PG' rating, while murder, punching, physical acts of revenge, etc., will frequently be found in 'G' or 'PG'. Many of us feel far more comfortable with natural, non-demeaning and un-exploitative nudity than we do having physical aggression and foul language that we try to ban from

our homes. The former has human dignity, if presented naturally, a quality impossible in the latter (Evidence, 25.3.1994, p.752).

4.27 The references in the guidelines to strong language and horror effects received considerably less attention in submissions to the Committee, with virtually no expressions of concern directed at restrictions on depictions of drug abuse, depictions.

Refusal of classification to R-rated material

4.28 There is a degree of concern in the community about R-rated depictions being of such harm to some adults and to minors, especially of pre- and primary school age, that prohibition is seen as the only realistic public policy to ensure the protection of our society from exposure to "unsuitable" material. The text of the major petition to the Committee signed by over 11,000 persons requested that the

Committee:

Recommend that censoring decisions foster the acceptance of traditional moral standards that the community believes in and supports, so that those beliefs and values that we all share as Australians will help us LIVE IN PEACE AND HARMONY WITH

ONE ANOTHER.

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4.29 The view that the content of R-rated material was unacceptable based on the concept of "traditional moral standards" was presented to the Committee by several witnesses. For example, the submission of the Presbyterian Women's Association in NSW contained such arguments as:

Language: there is no need for highly abusive or explicit language...

Sex: has no artistic merit to commend it...[there should be] no sexual violence portrayed.

Violence: should not be explicitly depicted...[certain R-rated films] are sexually/physically violent and not appropriate or in line with community expectations... such material should be refused classification.

Other: extreme "horror" is not defined (Evidence, 25.3.94, p. 624).

4.30 The Reformed Churches of Australia, Classis Western Australia, similarly argued:

Is the preservation of our morals less important than that of our physical bodies (Evidence, 15.6.1994, p. 1025).

It added:

.... we don't NEED foul language as a part of our entertainment. ...sex and violence which is depicted in a highly realistic and explicit manner can hardly be regarded as a satisfactory method for bringing pleasure and relaxation to those who seek entertainment.

...horror movies, where there are depictions of the bizarre and the extremely violent...border on the occultic, satanic. They are almost becoming depictions of hell itself - though people cannot depict what they have not yet seen (ibid.).

4.31 These witnesses were not alone in their comments and the Committee received numerous other examples of evidence of this genre. It is clear to the Committee that a large number of citizens felt strongly enough about this issue to write to the Committee to express their concerns. The witnesses are essentially recommending that material currently contained in the R classification should be refused classification and therefore this material is considered unsuitable for viewing not only on pay TV but in its entirety.

4.32 State and Territory Ministers responsible for censorship issues have adopted the principle that material which may be offensive to some sections of the adult community is acceptable provided that a classification system provides detailed information about the content of that material and prior warning so that people may choose what they and their children wish to see.

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4.33 As the Joint Select Committee on Video Material stated in its 1988 report in relation to the principle that adults should be free to see, hear and read what they choose:

The Committee is of the opinion that one's view of whether current legislation is adequate will to a large extent depend on whether the principles behind the legislation are tenable or accepted. The principles are that adults be free to see, hear and read what they choose providing that children are protected from material that may be harmful to them and that everybody is afforded protection from unsolicited exposure to material they may consider offensive. These principles have been supported by all governments since 1973. When

the principle that adults be free to see, hear and read what they choose was originally stated as public policy the number of videotapes entering Australia was insignificant and there was not the widespread availability of objectionable video publications as exists today as the

result of the flood of these materials into Australia...This principle is often stated, but not adhered to in practice, since adults are not free to view video material depicting, inter alia child pornography, bestiality and sexually explicit violent pornography as these are banned under censorship guidelines...and prohibited from entry into Australia under the customs regulations...The principle that adults be free to see, hear

and read what they choose is dependent on the pornographers1 claimed right to freedom of expression and the balancing of this claimed right against requirements fundamental to the common good which legislators are bound to uphold. The issue now is not whether there

should be censorship as was the case in 1973 when the principle was first stated as public policy but where to draw the line (Report, p.260).

As discussed below, the Committee shares that Committee's view that "the current line is not appropriately drawn" (ibid.). This Committee is basically concerned, however, about the drawing of the line for pay TV purposes.

4.34 Where the lines should be drawn in relation to defining the R rating for pay TV is not such a clear-cut issue. One of the general principles applying to the guidelines states:

The classification should reflect what a reasonable adult person would consider within the acceptable limits of community standards for that age group (OFLC Guidelines).

The Committee believes that it is naive to include material in the R film/video rating on the basis that it reflects what the reasonable adult person would consider acceptable for the over 18 years age group when it is now well established that the material is accessed by children as young as primary school age in large numbers on video. A similar situation will no doubt apply to pay TV, even with the opportunity

of parental control through disabling devices.

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Classification issues

4.35 While the general principles to the guidelines claim that "the closest attention is paid to the portrayal of violence and, in particular, sexual violence", the Committee found much disquiet about the OFLC's efforts in this regard.

4.36 Mr David Haines, Deputy Chief Censor, told the Committee in August 1991 that:

...the R classification is in the context of a narrative, which might include a sexual assault. Provided that is not deemed by the members of the Board to be exploitative, over-lengthy, dwelling on the incident, it is permitted, but only to the extent that it is not gratuitous or relished (Evidence, 27.8.91, p. 247);

and: ...the subject of rape...is not precluded from any classification level. It is quite possible to deal with this in a sensitive way which is making a serious comment about a very grave social problem. So it is a difficult issue to deal with and a difficult one for the Board to interpret just how far we can go in permitting depictions of sexual violence - whether it is something that is adding fuel to passions or whether it is contributing towards analysis of the debate... (Evidence, 27.8.91, p. 248)

4.37 In its submission to the Committee the OFLC pointed to data published in its 1992-93 annual report that showed that only a small proportion of all films and videos submitted for classification are classified R (12.18%), mainly for reasons of violent and sexual content. Violent and sexual content were each responsible for a little under half of R-rated films being classified as R. The Committee takes the OFLC's reference to such data as suggesting that the problematic material is only a small sector of the market; although the Committee notes that approvals average about one per week which it does not consider insignificant.

4.38 The Committee notes that the OFLC addresses in its annual report's 'Year in Review" changes in the levels of violence contained in the more recent films of certain producers and actors with reputations for high level violence, with an emphasis on action representing a trend away from the violence and brutality of earlier films. This is a positive development because, as with all censorship issues, prohibition at source is the most effective.

4.39 Mr Haines' remarks encompass the difficulties experienced by the general public in understanding the existing definition of the R rating. Terms such as "exploitative", "gratuitous", "relished" and "explicit" seem not to be those in common usage to explain the concepts and also seem to be sufficiently open to individual interpretation that there is a concern about the certainty of the process. The process has the appearance of being excessively intellectualised and academic, rather than designed to reflect adherence to accepted standards of public decency.

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4.40 The OFLC has an ongoing program of market research in order to provide it with feedback about community attitudes and opinions about its classification decisions as a means of assisting the Board members and other classification staff in making classification decisions. The results for the 1993-94 research program were documented in a consultant's report in August 1994 which was based on the

outcomes of a series of six community viewing sessions of three films, The Young Americans, Bad Girls and Blank Check. While 75% of respondents indicated that they were happy with the Board's decisions generally, the classifications were found not to play a significant role in the viewing decisions of the majority and:

Viewer knowledge of the classification system is not detailed; few people are able to offer more than a cursory outline of where they believe the boundaries between each classification category might lie (Project Community 2 - A Marketing Research Report, by The Leading

Edge Consultant, August 1994, p.12).

4.41 The background material provided to the Committee by the OFLC about the historical development of the R classification, outlined in Chapter 1, clearly suggests that Ministers have experienced similar difficulty, with a number of major reforms demanded since the classification's introduction in 1971. While the Committee is

naturally anxious not to further confuse the general public with calls for dramatic changes to the guidelines, it does not accept that it should be complacent about the suitability of the guidelines at this point in time simply because they have been subject to constant monitoring and been regularly reviewed over the past decade.

4.42 As an example of the confusion in the community, the National Viewers' and Listeners' Association has consistently argued that the request made by the Attorneys-General in July 1988 for a tightening of the application of the guidelines in fact had the opposite effect. The Association's first submission to the Committee

stated that large numbers of films and videos currently classified as X, R and M would have been banned prior to the issue of the 1988 revised guidelines. The submission stated that the new guidelines had, in effect, 'brought horrendously

violent films back into the R group, have moved R films down to M group [and] have moved M films to PG group'(Evidence, 26.3.92, p.987).

4.43 The Association sustained its argument by setting the wording of the 1987 and 1988 guidelines together and drawing comparisons. The 1987 violence category, for example, stated:

Explicit depictions of violence, but not detailed and gratuitous depictions of acts of considerable violence or cruelty (see Refused Classification);

while in 1988 this was changed to read:

Highly realistic and explicit depictions of violence may be shown, but not if unduly detailed, relished or cruel.

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In this example, the Association argued that the inclusion of the word "unduly" weakened and qualified the word "detailed", as did removal of the words "gratuitous" and "considerable". They did not, regrettably, examine the complimentary changes to the wording of other categories to set these changes in context.

4.44 One example cited by the Association was the classification in 1989 of the film The Accused, a film based on a pack rape, with an M rating, while carrying the consumer advice: "This film contains scenes of graphic sexual violence." Association President Mr Ray Studham was quoted in the media as saying that the film would have been classified as R before the guidelines were "tightened" (Evidence, 26.3.1992, p.1036).

4.45 The Joint Select Committee on Video Material had also given consideration to this issue, and recommended that the R violence guideline be amended to read:

Explicit depictions of violence but not detailed, relished or gratuitous depictions of acts of considerable violence or cruelty (Recommendation xxv, Vol.l p.301).

In its response the Government stated that the new guidelines as approved by Censorship Ministers in June 1988 implemented the suggestions in the Joint Committee's recommendation xxv. The new guidelines were also:

...rewritten so that they could be more easily understood by members of the public and by the film and video industry (Senate Hansard, 4.12.1990, p. 4940).

4.46 The Committee shares the concerns of the Association about the scope for idiosyncratic decision-making in relation to film classification when so much reliance is placed on individual interpretation of such words as "unduly". It made exactly this point in the context of its consideration of Salo. However, the Committee is not persuaded that the 1988 reforms were anything but a genuine attempt by the Censorship Ministers to reflect community concerns about the depiction of, especially, violent material. Governments of both major political persuasions were represented and it is untenable to suggest that they were not motivated other than by a genuine desire to improve the effectiveness of the guidelines in response to the concerns of the Joint Committee and the general community.

4.47 The Committee also notes that, in the 20 years since the first film was rated R, on only three occasions has a State Minister overruled a Commonwealth classification decision: Exterminator in 1980, The Last Temptation o f Christ in 1989 and Salo in 1993-94 (OFLC submission, p.23). As the Australian Children's Television Action Committee pointed out, however, it is the interpretation of the guidelines by the censors rather than the wording that matters and it urged that the classification system should err in favour of the protection of children as one of the more helpless groups in society (Evidence, 4.2.94, p.591).

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Violence and sexual violence

4.48 The attitudinal research described in Appendix 4 showed a community concern about violent media, especially of sexual violence. The discussion in Chapter 3 demonstrated that concerns about the effects on both adults and children of media depiction of sex and violence were only valid in certain, limited circumstances. What

struck a chord with the Committee, however, was the clear suggestion that the sheer volume of media depictions of a certain kind, especially of violence and sexual violence, may be contributing to the development of a less empathetic culture, one desensitised to the impact of acts of violence against individuals, especially women.

As Professor Thomson stressed.

...it behoves us as a community to identify those things that are injurious to the life of the community, and then to ensure that there is a minimum exposure to those types of things (Evidence, 4.2.94, p.577).

Professor Thomson identified exposure to violence and sexual violence, rather than nudity and sexual activity, as depictions of concern to him.

4.49 Several of his academic colleagues, even those who essentially debunked the "effects" issue, were concerned about certain depictions on television. Professor Turner, for example, stated:

If we got rid of TV we would not change society. What television has the power to do is to reinforce already established behaviours. We need to be wary about representations of, say, sexual violence on TV because there is already a problem in our community in dealing with

established attitudes among men who regard it as their right to inflict pain on their womenfolk (Evidence, 19.5.94, p. 875).

4.50 Bishop G J Robinson of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference noted concerns about pornography, drug taking and information about terrorism but he stressed that:

Violence is one that I would give the highest importance to. Obviously, when sex and violence are combined that is a particularly potent combination (Evidence, 4.11.91, p. 722).

4.51 The Presbyterian Women's Association in NSW also saw the need to redefine the guidelines to exclude sexually/physically violent material which was not in line with community standards (Evidence, 25.3.94, pp. 624-5).

4.52 Both the Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory governments gave conditional support to access to R-rated material on pay TV. These two governments, of course, permit X-rated material within their jurisdictions. While the NT government favoured blocking access to minors, the ACT government saw the

need to review the guidelines on violence in the R-rated category.

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4.53 The National Women's Consultative Council raised the issue of stereotyping and recommended that every possible means be used to alert new forms of media about the undesirability of stereotyping and the portrayal of physical and/or sexual violence against women (Evidence, 4.11.91, p.742). The Women's Electoral Lobby

(NSW)(WEL) also expressed its support for the concerns of the National Working Party II on the Portrayal of Women in the Media, which had included the exploitative portrayal of women's sexuality, the stereotyped portrayal of women and lack of diversity and the frequent portrayal of physical and sexual violence directed at women. WEL favoured tighter access by children to R-rated material on pay TV, rather than prohibition or definitional reform, with its concerns about the portrayal of women addressed in the Industry Code of Practice.

Depictions of sexual activity

4.54 The Committee outlined the differences between R- and X-rated films and videos in Chapter 3.

4.55 Dr Judyth Watson, Western Australia's Shadow Minister for Women's Interests, who did favour a ban on R-rated material on pay TV because of her concerns about its access by children and negative impact on some adults, also focused on the work of the National Committee on Violence Against Women and its attempts to promote non-violent standards on television. Dr Watson urged that the level of "harm" should determine censorship standards. While she saw non-violent erotica, by definition, as not harmful, in relation to R she said:

We are talking about cruelty; we are talking about demeaning images of women and children and people of colour; we are talking about rewards for harming those people...Erotica does not hurt anybody but

violence does (Evidence, 15.6.94, pp. 1014-5).

4.56 Dr Watson referred to the February 1992 finding in the Canadian Supreme Court in R v. Butler. Mr Butler owner a shop selling and renting "hard core" videotapes, magazines and sexual paraphernalia. He was charged under the Criminal Code with various counts of possession, sale, and exposing obscene material to public view. The case turned on the question of whether the definition of obscenity in the Criminal Code infringed the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In an unanimous decision the court ruled that although the nation's criminal obscenity law infringed on the freedom of expression, it was legitimate to outlaw pornography that was harmful to women. The court also redefined "obscenity" as sexually explicit material that involves violence or degradation (of both men and women). Dr Watson supported the judges' view that 'explicit sex without violence that is neither degrading nor dehumanising' should not be defined as obscene.

4.57 Ms Susan Raye of Video Ray Pty Ltd saw the existing guidelines for R-rated adult material as adequate and appropriate for screening on pay TV. She added:

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In fact we would be happy to see the guidelines broadened for video as the only consumer complaints we receive are that our videos are "too soft" (Evidence, 25.3.94, p.681).

Ms Raye was asked why her material was R-rated and not X-rated. She answered:

It does not show full-οη penetration or erections. It conforms to the guidelines as laid down by the OFLC...This material is as erotic as you can get and as explicit as you can get in the R-rated category (ibid, p.685).

4.58 Ms Raye tabled as an exhibit copies of an R-rated videotape called Revelations, produced by an American called Candida Royalle. Ms Raye advised that 'it is an excellent example of a non-violent erotic movie which has proved very popular with women and couples and is a good example to demonstrate the content

of R-rated, non-violent adult movies.' The Committee noted that, while no erections were portrayed in the video in accord with the guidelines, the film contained such depictions as oral sex by men on women and between women. The Committee notes that one of the curious outcomes of the current R and X guidelines which, for

example, prohibits oral intercourse by females of males, is that heterosexual and homosexual intercourse is treated harsher than, for example, lesbian intercourse.

4.59 Interestingly, according to the submission of Graff Pay-Per-View, while female plus female scenes are allowed on its United States adult entertainment service called "Spice", male plus male sex scenes are not shown because there is no market for 'cable version gay movies', ie without depictions of penetration and ejaculation

(Submission No. 54/37, p.4). This information suggests, therefore, that while R-rated sexual material has appeal to several market segments, it is the homosexual market which appears to have to rely on the X-rated market for this genre of entertainment.

4.60 There is a contradiction in classification policy which incorporates extremes of violence and sexual violence in R-rated material while non-violent erotica rated X is subject to bans in all states. The Canadian Supreme Court decision in R -v- Butler which included as obscene pornographic material which was degrading,

dehumanising or violent would appear to be worthy of further consideration by federal and state ministers.

A NEW CLASSIFICATION SYSTEM

4.61 While the witnesses cited above generally directed their comments at perceived deficiencies in the existing definition of the R rating, as contained in the Committee's terms of reference, Professor Robyn Quin offered a basis for an alternative structure to the current system of classification. While she did not seek

to vary the use of chronological age as the basis for the classification system, she noted that the current classifications of G, PG, M and R are very broad in terms of age range. She argued that the classifications should better reflect the cognitive development stages of children: three to seven, eight to 12 and 13 to 18.

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4.62 Professor Quin saw the problem of the current system as being focused on the amount and explicitness of violence, rather than assessing how the violence is portrayed. The amount of violence rather than the type of violence. She said:

The context of the violence, such as the nature of the perpetrator and whether the violence is depicted as justified, is an important determinator of the impact of media violence. Moreover, many of these features will affect children differently depending upon the individual level of cognitive development, that is, their ability to reason, to recognise consequences and to separate fantasy from reality (Evidence,

15.6.94, p.990).

She suggested that these distinctions could be considered when labelling films.

4.63 Professor Quin alluded to research which had identified four aspects of the context in which media violence appears, as follows:

. reward and punishment; . degree of realism; . justification; and . perception of character.

Professor Quin stated that studies had shown that children found depictions of self­ defence or justified violence more acceptable and appropriate than violence which was unjustified within the context of the narrative. She argued that an effective ratings category structure could examine films in the light of these four context areas, with the ratings categories refined to take account of the cognitive development stages of children. She saw this approach as recognising the different levels of cognition and the likelihood of identifying with and modelling the actions of characters seen. She also saw her approach as giving parents better advice on which to base their decision on the suitability of material for their children's viewing.

4.64 Professor Quin was not alone in raising concerns about the current emphasis of the guidelines with the amount rather than the type of violence. In discussing early morning cartoons on television, Professor Turner spoke of his concern 'that everything is figured around notions of heroism and male violence' (Evidence,

19.5.94, p. 878); while Professor Cunningham referred to the finding of the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal that current affairs and tabloid style programming was more of a problem for the community than modified R-rated material late at night. He added that:

...these kinds of programs where kids are exposed to the kinds of attitudes that might arise out of news and current affairs programs, the nihilism and despair about the world and so on, are more fundamental questions in the community than celebrated examples of limit cases like Salo (Evidence, 19.5.94, p. 832).

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4.65 Professor Quin's scheme would seem to involve more expertise and wider scope for interpretation on the part of the classifiers than the current system. While the greater professionalism required of the classifiers in assessing films in such a detailed manner may mitigate against the problem of desensitisation about which

the Committee has previously expressed concern, Professor Quin's scheme appears to embed in the classifiers even greater discretions than they have under the current system. After the experiences with Salo the Committee is not necessarily willing to support the classifiers being provided with that greater discretion.

4.66 Professor Quin's suggestions are nonetheless worthy of further detailed consideration, especially in the context of the possible implementation in Australia of a system which recognises the important distinctions made by the Canadian Supreme Court.

Summary

4.67 The discussion in Chapter 3 emphasises the role of the media as a reinforcer of and contributor to attitudes, both negative and positive, rather than as a sole cause of anti-social behaviour. There are certain attitudes which the Australian community would not wish to see reinforced by depictions which are contained in

the R classification, especially in relation to augmenting the acceptability of violence and sexual violence, in the home. Psychologists appearing before the Committee stressed that repetitive behaviour in viewing habits is a classic vehicle for reinforcement, particularly where certain graphic scenes could be played over and

over again. Therefore the Committee is concerned about the capacity to illegally copy pay TV programs on videotape.

4.68 Classification guidelines are an important indicator of the standards the community expects to see balance the rights of adults to individual choice with protection of children. The Government has already informed the Parliament that it rejects the concept that video releases be dealt with more strictly than films in its

September 1994 response to the Committee's recommendation in relation to Salo. It stated that this 'contradicts current policy which sets the film and video criteria at identical thresholds'.

4.69 The Committee questions this policy, especially if it is based on the belief that very young children do not gain access to material not intended for their viewing. The Committee notes that the United Kingdom legislated to have specific controls on video recordings as far back as 1984, largely because of the issue of access by

minors to unsuitable material. While the UK operates a dual classification system which differentiates between film and videos in terms of classification categories, it should be noted, however, that the British Board of Film Classification, unlike the OFLC, does not maintain a formal set of criteria for determining classification

decisions. The Committee is repeating its earlier call for reform of video guidelines, which should then be applied to pay TV, to distinguish their content from R-rated material permitted to be shown in cinemas where they can be genuinely restricted to adults.

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4.70 The matters of greatest concern to the Committee relate to depictions of violence and sexual violence which negatively reinforce in males the attitude that women are mere possessions on whom violent behaviour is acceptable. The Committee is also concerned about exploitative sexual material which, while physically non-violent, is degrading, demeaning and treats women as sexual commodities, which engenders in men the attitude that women are always sexually available. Such attitudes reinforce stereotypes which may lead to anti-social behaviour. They are therefore a matter of concern to society and the resolution of the problem properly involves government.

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CHAPTER 5

EFFECTIVENESS OF DISABLING DEVICES

According to the National Classification Code:

- Minors should be protected from material likely to harm or disturb them,

and R films are defined as:

- Films (except RC films and X films) that are unsuitable for a minor to see.

Background

5.1 In a statement on the Exposure Draft of the Broadcasting Services Bill 1992 released on 7 November 1991 by Mr Kim Beazley, then Minister for Transport and Communications, it was stated in regard to pay TV that:

It is also envisaged that access to material rated "M" or above will be further restricted by technical means... (Draft Broadcasting Services Bill Explanatory Papers, 7.11.91, p.30).

5.2 On 24 June 1992, Senator Bob Collins, then Minister for Transport and Communications, outlined in his second reading speech to the Broadcasting Services Bill 1992 the Government's position on disabling devices for pay TV. Expressing concern over the possible exposure of children to programs deemed unsuitable for

them, the Minister referred to the need to employ the use of technical safeguards to assist parental control and supervision of children viewing pay TV. The Minister stated:

There needs to be a device which enables absolute security in terms of the choices that the adults in a house make about what they will watch (Senate Hansard 24.6.92, p.4501).

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5.3 The Minister stressed, however, that ultimate responsibility for children's viewing of pay TV must rest with their parents. Parliament subsequently legislated for the use of disabling devices in conjunction with R-rated pay TV as follows:

...the licensee will ensure that access to programs classified as "R" by the Office of Film and Literature Classification is restricted by disabling devices acceptable to the ABA...(Schedule 2, part 6, section 10(g), Broadcasting Services Act 1992).

In this Chapter, the Committee reviews the effectiveness of such disabling devices.

Description of disabling devices

5.4 Pay TV, whether it is transmitted using satellite, cable or microwave technologies, requires the use of both receiving and decoding devices. These devices may, in turn, be used to disable the transmission of material or selectively filter the material being broadcast. Such devices may be programmed in order to give control over materials entering the home through pay TV, thereby creating a mechanism whereby minors, for example, may be protected from exposure to material deemed unsuitable for them.

5.5 A background briefing paper prepared by Telecom Australia for the Committee entitled Parental Control Provisions For Pay TV details the options by which parents could control material accessed through their pay TV receiver. For ease of reference, the paper is included as Appendix 7.

5.6 The Committee understands that the disabling device adopted as the preferred option by Telecom will not necessarily be the same as that chosen by other companies involved in the transmission of pay TV. The Committee visited the Sydney offices of Telecom on 10 June 1994 and inspected their pilot system in operation. The briefing indicated that while such disabling devices are currently designed for use by parents actively attempting to take control of their children's viewing, there is capacity for further technological control, at a cost, if further constraints are required.

5.7 Australis Media Ltd, which holds licences under the Broadcasting Services Act to broadcast pay TV by means of both satellite and microwave technologies throughout Australia, also provided comment in its submission to the Committee. Australis argued that experience in the United States shows that subscribers do not

use disabling devices which are incorporated in their equipment. This is mainly because people who subscribe to subscription television want to watch it (Submission No. 61/37, p.4). The Committee was similarly told by Professor Robyn Quin that:

...there is evidence from mainly the United States that such aids which allow the owners to program out shows are expensive, very difficult to use and unlikely to be used (Evidence 15.6.94, p.989).

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Effectiveness o f disabling devices

5.8 Australis stated that it would be providing disabling devices in a set-top unit, controlled by a normal TV remote control, as required by the legislation. The company has opted to use set-top units which incorporate conditional access rather than "smart cards" because security is dependent on possession of the card and they

are more prone to "hacking". According to Australis, having the disabling security system as part of the unit makes it harder to break into, with removal of the security function in the unit rendering the other functions inoperable. Features of the disabling device to be used by Australis will be:

. Programming of the set-top unit will allow the subscriber to lock out any number of channels, times or programs.

. The subscribers will know the nature of programs in advance. They can then control viewing either by rating, by channel or by time.

. Information on the rating of programs will be transmitted as they go to air. Thus, if R-rated programming is permitted, then the designation or classification is sent with the program. The set-top unit can then be programmed to automatically blank out such programs.

. The set-top unit is programmed using a remote control and setting a four­ digit Personal Identification Number (PIN) for each channel.

. The system will initially be unfamiliar to some subscribers, but not to those who use PINs for other purposes such as ATMs.

. To make the system user-friendly, Australis Media will use a three-phase approach:

- advice to the subscriber at the time of installation

- an instruction booklet (possibly a video)

- complete customer service by telephone with a higher number of customer service operators early on.

. The encryption algorithm will be incorporated in the set-top unit. Therefore, if the system is hacked, there is no need to change all set-top units, as they can be re-programmed by Australis. This re-programming would not affect the

conditional access facility (Submission No. 61/37, p.4).

5.9 In its November 1994 report R Classified Programs on Pay T V the ABA addressed the responsibility placed on it by the Broadcasting Services Act that, if Parliament approves the broadcasting of R-rated material, it must approve the operation of licensees' proposed disabling devices. The ABA stated that, when

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R-rated material on pay TV

assessing a disabling device, the main considerations would be effectiveness, ease of use and security. The following draft guidelines had been developed to explain these considerations in detail:

. the disabling device should allow parents to restrict viewing access of children; . the disabling device must be adequately secure to hinder any attempts of unauthorised viewing;

. the disabling device must be easy to use and administer; and . support facilities offered by the subscriber management system must be conducted in a secure manner (p.45).

5.10 With regard to the use of technological safeguards for pay TV in the US, Professor Stuart Cunningham advised the Committee that:

...[they have the] general disabling of whole channels with smart cards and accompanying PIN numbers. What is also being trialled in the US now is the ability to code individual programs with S for sex and V for violence kinds of codes, and to be able to disable individual programs rather than simply disable whole channels at various times (Evidence 19.5.94, p.834).

Usefulness of disabling devices

5.11 The concept of limiting access by children to restricted material on pay TV by use of a disabling device was raised early in the Committee's inquiry. In a submission in November 1991, the then Department of Transport and

Communications expressed concern that children should be protected from exposure to unsuitable material on pay TV, particularly at times of the day during which they may be free to watch television unsupervised. The submission outlined the possibility of enforcing a form of restricted time zone during which certain classified material might be transmitted only in accordance with 'technical safeguards'. The submission stated:

Licence conditions and codes of conduct could require the licensee to scramble certain program types so that:

- technology exists which would enable this to be done by various means including smart cards, PIN numbers and remote enabling systems

- it could be required that access to al] programs rated above "M" could only be through the technical safeguard system (Evidence 4.11.91, p.641K).

5.12 In the Committee's June 1992 Final Report the Committee noted evidence received from the Australian Telecommunications Authority (AUSTEL) and the

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Department of Transport and Communications regarding the suitability of X- or R- rated material for pay TV. Ms J. Plante, a Member of AUSTEL, was quoted as having argued that acceptable content for services such as pay TV should vary according to the accessibility of the service and that the degree of program

regulation should have an inverse relationship to the level of access

controls/restrictions which can be applied to delivery of the service. Essentially, she argued that where effective access controls are available, a lesser degree of content regulation was necessary (Final Report, p.46).

5.13 Similarly, the Department of Transport and Communications contended that it was debateable whether pay TV should be subject to the same controls as free-to- air broadcasting. It argued that pay TV is a discretionary service involving a contractual agreement between the provider and viewer, where subscribers were able to exercise significant control over what programs were accessed (Final Report, P-47).

5.14 While there was general consensus among those giving evidence to the inquiry that disabling devices should be used to restrict access by minors to pay TV services, the majority of witnesses claimed to have little faith in the effectiveness of disabling devices to control access by children. Reasons for this lack of faith ranged from

concern about the technical competencies of parents in comparison to children, inadequate supervision and family viewing habits.

5.15 A number of witnesses stated the belief that any system involving disabling devices could be breached by children, many of whom are extremely adroit at dealing with new technologies, and many of whom are far more computer literate than their parents (Evidence, Presbyterian Women's Association NSW, 25.3.94 p.624; Anglican

Church of Australia, Diocese of Newcastle, 25.3.94 p.753; Project Family, 19.5.94, p.848; Professor Robyn Quin, 15.6.94, p.989 and 997; Reformed Churches of Australia WA, 15.6.94, p.1038; The Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia, 4.2.94, p.543.) For example, in its submission, the Woman's Christian

Temperance Union of Western Australia Inc. stated:

Regarding the effectiveness of devices designed to disable pay TV systems from access by minors, we cannot believe that anything would be effective for any length of time with the electronically-minded and inventive young people and others we have today who are fascinated

and intent on working things out to their advantage or to their desires (Evidence, 15.6.94, p.1074).

5.16 A number of witnesses also expressed concern that disabling devices would not prevent minors from accessing unsuitable material if children are unsupervised. Reference was made, for example, to the significant number of children in Australia

who are latchkey children (Evidence, National Association for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (NAPCAN) Victoria Inc., 4.2.94, p.616). Similarly, witnesses questioned the quality of supervision that some children receive from careless or

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uncaring adults (Evidence, Mr Peter Quinn, 7.4.92, p.1380; National Viewers' and Listeners' Association of Australia Inc., 15.6.94, pp.895-896). In particular a submission from the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle noted that:

Even if the devices are secure, there will be no enforceable way of ensuring that children will be prevented from watching [R-rated material] by uncaring adults. This can happen with videos at present but the hour after hour available on pay TV would compound the problem (Evidence 25.3.94, p.753).

The submission added:

With the greatest of care, we can still leave appliances turned on. There is a real danger of inadvertently leaving a safety device turned off (ibid.).

5.17 Keys Young representative, Ms Susan Young, told the Committee that even diligent parents are unable to completely control their children's viewing habits. In reporting on a survey of community standards involving parents conducted on behalf of the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal (ABT), Ms Young advised:

There were many comments made about the fact that they as parents were attempting to regulate their own children's viewing habits, but they knew only too well that when the children were in a neighbour's house or someplace else they lost that control (Evidence, 13.5.93, p.2038).

5.18 Another concern expressed to the Committee was that despite the telecommunication advances being made such as the impending availability and mode of delivery involved in pay TV, viewing habits remain essentially unchanged. Professor Patricia Gillard commented:

At the moment there is no shift at all in the ways that people will be living around the TV set...the most common [habit] by far, is that people set up their routines around a central TV and in some ways routines of their living are adjusted to the routines of the schedule on the television (Evidence, 4.2.94 p.559).

5.19 These concerns were supported by research which Professor Patricia Gillard had published in 1986 which showed that male parents are largely in control of what is viewed on television by families. Professor Gillard, now a researcher in telecommunications at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, told the Committee of her concern that if a continual stream of R-rated material was to be made available on pay TV in Australia, the families of men wishing to access the material would be forced to live around it (Evidence, 4.2.94, pp. 560-1). This aspect

of people's viewing habits was seen to possibly compound the perceived adverse

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effect that some witnesses believed the availability of R-rated material on pay TV may have on children.

5.20 Evidence from the Australian Children's Television Action Committee (ACTAC) also voiced concerns on viewing habits where increasingly because of the working patterns of parents:

...the television is used as the baby-sitter...[which] makes it even more important that what is seen on the television is not going to be doing harm to those who are viewing it (Evidence 4.2.94, p.594).

Parental responsibility

5.21 Witnesses differed in opinion, however, whether R-rated material should be banned from pay TV given the perceived ineffectiveness of disabling devices and what was an appropriate balance between Government intervention and parental responsibility.

5.22 Mr Peter Quinn, then Director of Management Services in the NSW Department of Family and Community Services, told the Committee how the perception of what parental responsibilities entail have changed over time. Historically, parents have had total command and control of their children until they

reached the legally declared age of adulthood (see Hewer v. Bryant [1970] 1QB 357 and the House of Lords' judgement in the Gillick case; cited in evidence, 7.4.92, p.1384). However, Mr Quinn stated how this situation had recently changed. For instance the Family Law Court of Australia determined in the case Fountain v. Alexander [1982] FLC 91, that the guardianship of a parent depends on the duty of

care that the parent owes to the child; in infancy, it is total command, the parent is responsible for everything. But as time goes on, that standard of responsibility dwindles until, eventually, it need be no more than just advice (Evidence, 7.4.92, pp. 1384-85). In practical terms, therefore, Mr Quinn argued that the concept of a

parent being totally in command until the age of 18 years is a myth, especially when the rise in one parent families and increased numbers of women in the workforce means that children are increasingly unsupervised. It is becoming more difficult for parents to control what children are doing in and out of the home.

5.23 Accordingly, Mr Quinn argued that in cases where parents are unwilling or unable to control or care for their children, the English law doctrine of parens patriae (the parent of children) applies. The essential principle of this doctrine as applied historically by courts and government administrations when dealing with

children is that 'where there is a conflict between the public interest and the interests of children, then it is a long held view...that the welfare and interests of the child must be the paramount consideration1 (Evidence, 7.4.92, p.1385). Mr Quinn's view was that:

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The protection of minority rights is a fundamental duty of the majority system of democracy. Children are a minority; therefore, their interests deserve to be protected by the State (ibid.).

5.24 Witnesses to this inquiry suggested varying levels of State involvement for the protection of children from the possible harm of accessing R-rated material on pay TV. One group of witnesses argued that given the likelihood that children will still be exposed to unsuitable material with potentially damaging consequences despite

the use of disabling devices, R-rated material should be completely banned from pay TV by the Government (Evidence, Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, 4.11.91, p.711; ACTAC, 4.2.94, p.592; National Viewers' and Listeners' Association of Australia Inc., 15.6.94, p.895). They suggested that it is the rightful function of the State to offer protection to the vulnerable from potentially harmful material (see, for example, ACTAC evidence 4.2.94, p.595). For instance, the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle stated in its submission:

...as the security and use of the devices proves to be so questionable, the only safe point of control of Έ'-rated pay TV is at the point of transmission. The Government, if it wishes to protect the rights of the many, should prevent the presence of Έ'-rated pay TV (Evidence, 25.3.94, p.753).

5.25 The Office of Film and Literature Classification described its view on this issue in its 1992-93 Annual Report in the following terms:

The primary responsibility for protecting children and young people from harmful material rests with their parents or guardians. In discharging that responsibility they have a right to expect assistance from the State, especially as films and videos are so readily accessible. They must be confident that material to which children may be exposed has been carefully examined and appropriately classified (p.19).

The OFLC states that its objective in classifying films and videos is two-fold. It aims to assist parents to protect children and young people from unsuitable material and also to respect the views of adults who are concerned about violence and its effect on society and who may find some material personally offensive (OFLC Reports on Activities 1992-93, p.19). By using the classifications and consumer advice from the OFLC, it is intended that parents and other adults will be able to make appropriate viewing choices for themselves and their families (OFLC Information Bulletin No. 7-

May 1993, p.3).

5.26 While the many witnesses supporting the banning of R-rated material from pay TV would consider the OFLC's approach as ineffective in protecting children because of the irresponsible, inattentive or uncaring attitude of parents, there was also a view expressed to the Committee about the extent to which government

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should seek to limit, or is able to limit, what is viewed in the home. For example, Mr Tony Hill of the Social Issues Committee, Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia, commented:

There should be access by codes, which the adults could control, if they exercise their responsibilities properly. [However,] I am sure we all realise that responsibility is not always exercised by adults, but most of us would feel there is a limit to which you can patrol the inside of homes on these matters

(Evidence, 4.2.94, p.535).

5.27 Despite these philosophical concerns, to which there is probably no definitive solution which will satisfy the range of views expressed to the Committee, a number of witnesses supported the OFLC position on parental responsibility, maintaining that it is not the role of government to take full responsibility for the viewing habits

of children. It is the proper role of the government only to offer assistance and support to parents who are attempting to control their children's exposure to unsuitable material. (Evidence, Video Ray Pty Ltd, 25.3.94, p.684; Associate Professor Stuart Cunningham, 19.5.94, p.828; Professor Kevin Durkin, 15.6.94, p.1041). Proponents of this position maintained that government-imposed regulations requiring, for example, the use of disabling devices would constitute such

support.

5.28 While the majority report of the Joint Select Committee on Video Material had expressed concern about the role of parents in facilitating or denying access to their children to unsuitable video material (Volume 1, p. 236, para. 14.16), the major dissenting report had concluded that parents should have the right to determine

what their children can and cannot see (Volume 2, pp. 567-8, para 15.36).

5.29 In its May 1993 interim report, Keys Young reported the following findings from its qualitative study of community attitudes in relation to pay TV:

Access restriction in the form of a 'disabling device' was considered an important component of Pay TV. To the great majority it answered their concerns in terms of minors. Moreover it was all the government could be expected to do as the responsibility of protection was properly

up to the parents (Evidence, 13.5.93, p.2058).

The quantitative findings of the Keys Young study dated March 1994 on this subject were as follows:

. The majority (67%) of respondents believed that controls on pay TV such as ' start up' cards and PIN numbers seem to be a secure way o f preventing children and teenagers from watching any 'R' rated programs on pay TV, while a sizeable minority (25%) disagreed (p.iii).

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. The majority (59%) were also of the view that PIN numbers and parental supervision are adequate safeguards for children and teenagers compared to (31%) who felt that the Government should prevent all R rated material from going on air on pay TV. A majority view (ie. more than 50%) on this issue was not evident, however, amongst women or non-capital city residents

(ibid.).

Likelihood of using disabling devices

5.30 One consideration of the likely effectiveness of disabling devices depends on the extent to which parents will use them. Parents were asked by Keys Young whether they were likely to use controls such as PIN numbers to restrict their children from watching R-rated programs on pay TV. 86% said that they were likely to use such controls, 71% indicating that they were "very likely". Only 10% said that they were unlikely to use the controls.

5.31 The consultants observed that the survey respondents reported attempting to exert a fair degree of influence over their children's TV viewing, with less than one in five parents saying that their children are able to select their own programs. The parents least likely to indicate the use of parental influence were those with teenage children only.

5.32 The consultants also noted that as many as 20% of parents of primary aged children and up to one third of parents of teenagers reported that their children had seen R-rated films on video or at the movies. An explanation for this apparent contradiction in parental attitude was offered based on the focus group discussions in the qualitative phase of the research. The consultants stated:

Some of the focus group participants felt that essentially there was no set age limit for children to be exposed to R-rated material that was universally appropriate...[exposure] was seen to depend upon the maturity of the child in question or on the content, message or purpose of the movie. Others expressed their view that exposure to R-rated material under parental guidance was important in growing up and that introduction to such topics was best done in the "right light" with the benefit of parental viewpoint and warning (p.60).

5.33 During 1994 the ABA published a monograph entitled 'Cool' or 'gross': Children's attitudes to violence, kissing and swearing on television. The existence of television rules in most households was confirmed with 89% of children and 98% of parents claiming that the children's television viewing was restricted in some way.

5.34 These research studies suggest that parents will generally exercise guidance in relation to material which they consider inappropriate for their children to see. The United States experience cited above that disabling devices tend not to be used needs to be taken into account. While their use could be expected to be greatest for

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younger children, the Committee notes the problem of progressive relaxation of parental guidance of children in later years.

The legal liability of parents

5.35 The Australian Law Reform Commission's (ALRC) 1991 report entitled Censorship Procedure has implications to this debate regarding the level of responsibility expected to be borne by parents in monitoring and controlling what is viewed by their children. The ALRC initially proposed in its Discussion Paper 47

that there should be a defence available to the offence committed by a parent who shows or delivers to a child material which is not legally available to children (paras 3.43 and 3.45). However, after review of these findings and based on public consultation where submissions almost universally opposed the provision of such a

parental defence (for details of this opposition, see Censorship Procedure, p.47) the Law Reform Commission decided:

...that the need to protect children from [R] material outweighs arguments that parents have an absolute right to allow their children to see, or be shown any material. It recommends that parents be not given a defence and that the permission of the child's parent should not be a defence (Censorship

Procedure, p.47).

5.36 The Committee invited a number of witnesses to comment on the Law Reform Commission's recommendation. Several witnesses gave their endorsement. The Australian Parents Council, for example, stated:

...I think you are assuming that the parents are well informed, fully understanding the likely impact of such material on students, and I guess the government at times has to act in terms of the common good, having

examined fully the impact and the likely consequences of taking such a decision. In such a case I think the parents have to accept that the law overrules their right. They have a right but they have a responsibility as well, and, if the public good demonstrates that the responsibility is in fact

overruling their opinion, then I think so be it (Evidence, 19.5.94, p.809).

5.37 However, the National Council of Women of Australia commented on the difficult legal position parents might be inadvertently placed in by the implementation of the Law Reform Commission's recommendation:

If that became law, then you see it would be really morally wrong to put that R-rating on television and put anyone in the community in that situation where they would be held responsible (Evidence, 19.5.94, p.792).

5.38 The Committee notes that the implementation of the Commission's proposal is one for the consideration of the States and Territories in relation to their introduction of complementary enforcement provisions to the new Commonwealth classification legislation.

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Other controls for pay TV

5.39 A number of regulatory options were raised during the Committee's inquiry which could be considered as supplementary to the use of disabling devices and as an additional support for parents seeking to take responsibility for their children's viewing habits. These included the imposition of "watershed" hours and the provision of detailed program advice. The Keys Young interim report offered the following comments on its findings of community attitudes to pay TV:

Program advice was regarded as the best means of selecting for ones' preferences and avoiding R-rated or anything else if so wished. It was assumed that there would be a Pay TV program guide and informants stressed that this should provide detailed information about forthcoming programs.

Timing of scheduling adult material was often mentioned. Respondents often assumed that such programs would be shown late at night but the idea of them appearing during the day was thought distasteful (Evidence, 13.5.93, p.2058).

5.40 Watershed hours were considered an important adjunct to the use of disabling devices by those respondents to the Keys Young quantitative study who supported screening of R-rated material on pay TV (see Appendix 4 for further discussion of the Keys Young findings). Preferred times for broadcasting of R-rated material was after 9pm-llpm (50%) and after llpm-6am (54%).

5.41 Australis Media contended that with the shift to more flexible and part-time employment there had been an increase in demand for entertainment services at widely varying hours. Accordingly, Australis plans to program three eight-hour cycles of the same movies each day to cater for viewers such as shiftworkers who will not always be able to see programs screened in the evening or early hours of the morning. Australis supports the screening of R-rated material on pay TV on commercial grounds to enable it to compete viably against video and free-to-air services. Australis contends that watershed hours are unnecessary as disabling devices will allow the subscriber to lock out any number of channels, screening times or programs (Submission No. 61/37, p.5).

5.42 Education was also seen by several witnesses as an important component of any system aiming to reduce the consumption of unsuitable material by children. It was pointed out that the education of parents is necessary so that they are able to make more informed decisions regarding the materials they allow their families to access (Evidence, Professor Donald Thomson, 4.2.94, p.576; Australian Parents Council, 19.5.94, p.813) and the education of children is necessary so that they are better able to analyse what they see in the media, and they are able to develop a

clearer understanding of the role of the media in our society (Evidence, Professor Donald Thomson, 4.2.94, p.576; Professor Graeme Turner, 19.5.94, pp.887-888; Professor Robyn Quin, 15.6.94, p.989).

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5.43 Imposition of a cultural or content tax was suggested in evidence by Professor Paul Walton as a possible economic deterrent to pay TV providers who wish to transmit programs with violent or sexual material. Professor Walton also suggested that tax credits be available as a positive incentive for pay TV providers to produce Australian material, cultural material or children's programs (Evidence, 25.3.94,

pages 721-722). In relation to these proposed regulatory measures, Professor Walton commented:

Whilst freedom of information and viewing need to be defended, this should occur against the balanced cultural needs of larger society. Commercial realities have to be measured against cultural outcomes; those who wish to trade on the merely negative aspects of social life should be taxed so as to provide cultural space for those who wish to improve it (Evidence, 25.3.94,

p.717).

5.44 Several witnesses maintained that disabling devices represent a realistic option for controlling access to pay TV services, irrespective of whether supplementary control measures such as watershed hours, program advice, education programs and levys are used (Evidence, Professor Paul Walton, 25.3.94, p.719-721; Associate Professor Stuart Cunningham, 19.5.94, p.833). Commenting on the issue

of disabling devices, Professor Kevin Durkin stated that:

Clearly, computer literate children will be able to find their way around it. I would comment, though, that we should not abandon all hope for the disabling device. There are a couple of reasons for that. One is that it may prove to be more viable than we suspect. There may be technical problems initially, but it may be more viable. I suggest, as

a point of evidence in that regard, that when computerised banking first became available, most of us were sceptical that we would allow a machine to dispense money to us. Many of us still remain sceptical because the banks do make mistakes but, by and large, most of us now

use PIN numbers in regard to something that is quite important to us - our money. So it is not impossible for technology to be developed to assist. Again, I would stress it would not be foolproof in this area (Evidence, 15.6.94, p.1069).

Summary

5.45 The majority of witnesses expressed doubts about the effectiveness of devices designed to disable pay TV from access by minors. Their doubts arise from the belief that, despite the use of disabling devices, children will be able to access unsuitable material on pay TV either through their own ingenuity or as a result of the

negligence or inattention of parents or other adults. The Committee shares their doubts and concerns.

5.46 However, while the Committee acknowledges the improbability that any such device will be 100% effective, the Committee believes that the presence of a disabling

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device may in the right circumstances assist parents to establish clear rules for the regulation of access by their children to adult pay TV services and to ensure that their rules are complied with. This position accords with the traditional philosophy underpinning the Australian censorship system that adult material is not banned because it may be accessed by children, but unfettered access by minors is restricted

either by point-of-sale controls or by physical or technological constraints.

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APPENDIXES

Page

Appendix 1: List of submissions 101

Appendix 2: List of witnesses at public hearings 103

Appendix 3: Government response of 25 November 1993 109 to Committee's June 1992 Final Report

Appendix 4: Attitudinal studies 115

Appendix 5: International experience of R-rated or equivalent 123 material on pay TV

Appendix 6: Guidelines for the classification of films 139 and videotapes

Appendix 7: Telecom Australia briefing note: 143

Parental Control Provisions for Pay TV

APPENDIX 1

Submission No.* Sender

8A/37

24/37 25/37 26/37 27/37

28/37

29/37 30/37 31/37 32/37

33/37

34/37

35/37 36/37

37/37 38/37

39/37 40/37 41/37 42/37

44/37

Presbyterian Women's Association of Australia Ms Pam McDavall Mrs D Payn Video Ray Pty Ltd

Mr David Rutherford Mackay Women's Health & Information Centre Professor Paul Walton

Mrs Robyn Jenkin National Council of Women of Tasmania The Salvation Army National Secretariat Reformed Churches of Australia

Classis Western Australia Womens's Action Alliance (Australia) Inc. Professor Brent Waters

The National Council of Women of Australia Inc. Ltd Bishop of Newcastle The Woman's Christian Temperance Union

of Western Australia Inc. Endeavour Forum The Mother's Union in Australia The Australian Family Association

Catholic Womens League Australia Inc. Office of Film and Literature Classification

101

45/37 Dr. Judith A Reisman

46/37 The South Australian Country Women's

Association Inc.

47/37 Forum for the Promotion of Human Dignity

48/37 Knights of the Southern Cross (NSW)

49/37 Knights of the Southern Cross

(Albany Branch No. 12, WA)

50/37 Presbyterian Reformed Church,

Lithgow/Wallerawang

51/37 National Viewers' and Listeners'

Association of Australia Inc.

52/37 Baptist Churches of NSW

53/37 Australian Christian Endeavour

Union Inc.

54/37 Salisbury Securities Limited

57/37 Multiple District 201 Council of

Lions Clubs International Inc.

58/37 Mr and Mrs Hughes

59/37 Ms Sarah Vladich

61/37 Australis Media Limited

64/37 Mr and Mrs Gonzalez

65/37 Festival of Light (SA)

* The Committee numbers all submissions sequentially. Submissions not listed above relate to other of the Committee's inquiries.

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APPENDIX 2

LIST OF WITNESSES AT PUBLIC HEARINGS

27 AUGUST 1991 - MELBOURNE

Office of Film and Literature Classification: Mr David Haines, Deputy Chief Censor

23 SEPTEMBER 1991 - SYDNEY

Communications Law Centre, University of New South Wales: Ms Gillian Appleton, Contracted Consultant/Editor Mr Anthony Burke, Researcher Ms Christina Spurgeon, Researcher and Policy Adviser

Australian Broadcasting Tribunal: Mr Peter Westerway, Chairman

Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission: Ms Elizabeth Fletcher, Acting Senior Policy Officer, Sex Discrimination Unit Ms Jennifer Hansen, Policy Officer, Sex Discrimination Unit

Australian Law Reform Commission: Mr Stephen Mason, Secretary and Director of Research Ms Margaret Ryan, Senior Law Reform Officer

Australian Association of Sex Educators, Researchers and Therapists: Ms Greta Goldberg, President

4 NOVEMBER 1991 - CANBERRA

Department of Transport and Communications: Dr Leo Dobes, Assistant Secretary, Regulatory Policy Branch Mr Christopher North, Assistant Secretary, Development and Planning Branch, Broadcasting and Policy Division

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R-rated material on pay TV List o f witnesses

Genesis Telecommunications Pty Ltd: Mr Peter Arman, Manager Mr John Lark, Managing Director Mr Robert Swan, Managing Director, Robert Swan Media Services

Australian Catholic Bishops Conference: Mr Bernard O'Donovan, Legal Adviser on Federal Legislation Bishop Geoffrey Robinson, Representative Mr Nicholas Tonti-Filippini, Research Officer

National Women's Consultative Council: Ms Anna Schinella, Council Member

26 MARCH 1992 - CANBERRA

National Viewers' and Listeners' Association of Australia: Mrs Beryl Van Luyn, Secretary

2 APRIL 1992 - CANBERRA

Professor Brent Waters, Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, School of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, University of New South Wales

7 APRIL 1992 - SYDNEY

Professor Julie James Bailey (undertook informal discussions in Brisbane on 6 April 1992, with the discussion incorporated into the transcript for 7 April 1992).

Dr Judith Reisman, Director of the Institute for Media Education, Arlington, Virginia.

Richard J. Rowe and Associates Pty Ltd: Mr Richard Rowe, Principal

Mr Peter Quinn

Mr Ross Jones, Senior Lecturer in Economics, University of Technology, Sydney

Presbyterian Women's Association of Australia (N.S.W.): Mrs Marion Smith, Convenor, Social Issues Committee

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R-rated material on pay TV List o f witnesses

6 MAY 1992 - CANBERRA

Australian Postal and Telecommunications Union: Mr John Saunderson, Research Officer

Office of Film and Literature Classification: Mr John Dickie, Chief Censor Mr Frank Marzic, Executive Officer

1 JUNE 1992 - CANBERRA

Office of Film and Literature Classification: Mr John Dickie, Chief Censor Mr David Haines, Deputy Chief Censor

9 SEPTEMBER 1992 - CANBERRA

Australian Broadcasting Tribunal: Mr Bruce Allen, Member Ms Kathryn Paterson, Senior Research Officer

6 NOVEMBER 1992 - CANBERRA

Frank Small and Associates: Ms Wendy Mellor, Project Director

Australian Broadcasting Authority: Ms Debra Richards, Acting Director, Programs Division

25 NOVEMBER 1992 - CANBERRA

Federation of Australian Commercial Television Stations: Mr Anthony Branigan, General Manager

20 APRIL 1993 - CANBERRA

Eros Foundation: Mr Jeffrey King, Committee Member Ms Fiona Patten, Spokesperson Mr Robert Swan, Parliamentary Representative and Lobbyist

Australian Broadcasting Authority: Ms Katherine Aisbett, Head, Research Section Ms Debra Richards, Acting Director, Programs Division

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R-rated material on pay TV List o f witnesses

13 MAY 1993 - CANBERRA

Australian Broadcasting Authority: Mr Nick Herd, Assistant Director, Programs Division Ms Debra Richards, Acting Director, Programs Division

Keys Young: Ms Susan Young

5 AUGUST 1993 - SYDNEY

Office of Film and Literature Classification: Mr John Dickie, Chief Censor Mr David Haines, Deputy Chief Censor Mr Evan Williams, Chairman, Film and Literature Board of Review

20 AUGUST 1993 - CANBERRA

Office of Film and Literature Classification: Mr John Dickie, Chief Censor Mr David Haines, Deputy Chief Censor Mr Frank Marzic, Executive Officer Mr Evan Williams, Chairman, Film and Literature Board of Review

Attorney-General's Department: Mr Norman Reaburn, Deputy Secretary

30 SEPTEMBER 1993 - CANBERRA

Office of Film and Literature Classification: Mr John Dickie, Chief Censor Mr David Haines, Deputy Chief Censor

4 FEBRUARY 1994 - MELBOURNE

The Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia: Mr Tony Hill, Chairman, Social Issues Committee Mrs Pamela Carder, Junior School Heads Association; Member, Social Issues Committee Dr Ros Otzen, Member, Social Issues Committee

Professor Patricia Gillard, Faculty of Social Sciences and Communications, EMIT

Professor Don Thomson, Department of Psychology, Monash University

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National Association for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect Victoria Inc.: Dr. Elizabeth MacMahon, Acting President and Honorary Medical Adviser

Australian Children's Television Action Committee: Mr Ivan Gaal, Vice-President Mrs Mary Murdoch, Executive Member

25 MARCH 1994 - SYDNEY

Presbyterian Women's Association of Australia in NSW: Mrs Marion Smith, Convenor, Social Issues Committee

Women's Electoral Lobby (NSW): Ms Mary Kinney, Member Miss Valerie Ritchie, Coordinator, Media Action Group Ms Hilary Roberts, Member, Media Action Group

Video Ray Pty Ltd: Ms Sue Raye, Managing Director

Professor Paul Walton, Department of Sociology, University of Wollongong

Mr Rodney Blackmore, Senior Children's Magistrate, Children's Court of NSW

Dr Rod Milton

Anglican Diocese of Newcastle: Reverend Jennifer Willsher, Assistant Priest, Parish of Gosford; Member, Children's Ministry Unit

19 MAY 1994 - BRISBANE

National Council of Women of Australia: Mrs Annette Day, Vice-President

Project Family: Mr Richard Dent, Coordinator

Associate Professor Stuart Cunningham, Associate Professor of Media, Queensland University of Technology

Australian Parents Council: Mr Leo Dunne, Chairperson

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R-rated material on pay TV List o f witnesses

Australian Family Association: Mrs Patricia Smith, State Vice President and Media Relations Officer

Professor Graeme Turner, Professor in Communications, Cultural Studies, Department of English, University of Queensland

15 JUNE 1994 - PERTH

National Viewers' and Listeners' Association: Mrs Beryl Van Luyn, Secretary

Associate Professor Robyn Quinn, School of Language, Literature and Media Studies, Edith Cowan University

Ms Judyth Watson MLA

Reformed Churches of Australia, Classis Western Australia: Mrs Joan McArthur Reverend G Kleinjan

Dr Kevin Durkin, Department of Psychology, University of Western Australia

The Woman's Christian Temperence Union of Western Australia: Mrs Nola Adams

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APPENDIX 3

GOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO THE THIRD REPORT OF 23 JUNE 1992 FROM THE SENATE SELECT COMMITTEE ON COMMUNITY STANDARDS RELEVANT TO THE SUPPLY OF SERVICES UTILISING TELECOMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGIES

Senator The Hon Bob Collins Minister for Transport and Communications 25 November 1993

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The third report of the Senate Select Committee on Community Standards Relevant to the Supply of Services Utilising Telecommunications Technologies was tabled in Parliament on 23 June 1992. The report fulfilled the Committee's initial terms of reference relating to pay television and the standards for content of videotex services.

Recommendations 1 and 2 were considered by the Senate during the debate on the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 and the Broadcasting Services (Subscription Television Broadcasting) Amendment Act 1992. Many amendments were made to reach a final position.

Recommendation 1: That x-rated material should not be considered suitable for screening on pay television, whether provided as subscription television broadcasting services or as subscription television narrowcasting services, and regardless of the means of delivery being either telecommunications or radiocommunications technologies.

This recommendation has already been implemented through legislation for subscription television broadcasting services. Narrowcasters will need to address this matter when they develop their codes of practice.

Under the Broadcasting Services Act 1992, subscription television broadcasting licensees will not broadcast a program that has been refused classification, or has been classified 'X' by the Office of Film and Literature Classification (Schedule 2, 10(1 )(f)).

A prohibition on X-rated material has not been placed on subscription television narrowcasting services. Subscription television narrowcasting services are to develop, in consultation with the Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA) and taking account of any relevant research conducted by the ABA, codes of practice.

The codes of practice may relate to:

. preventing the broadcasting of programs that, in accordance with community standards, are not suitable to be broadcast; and,

. methods of classifying programs that reflect community standards.

In developing these codes of practice, community attitudes to the following matters are to be taken into account:

. the portrayal in programs of physical and psychological violence; . the portrayal in programs of sexual conduct and nudity; . the use in programs of offensive language; . the portrayal in programs of the use of drugs, including alcohol and

tobacco; and

n o

. the portrayal in programs of matter that is likely to incite or perpetuate hatred against, or vilifies, any person or group on the basis of ethnicity, nationality, race, gender, sexual preference, age, religion, or physical or mental disability.

The codes of practice may also relate to methods of ensuring that protection of children from exposure to program material which may be harmful to them is a high priority.

The ABA is to maintain a Register of the codes and this register is to be open for public inspection. If the codes of practice fail, the ABA has the power to determine program standards. The ABA will, before determining, varying or revoking a standard, seek public comment on the proposed standard,

variation or revocation.

Recommendation 2: That the Australian Broadcasting Authority conduct extensive, Australia-wide qualitative and quantitative research on community standards of taste and decency in relation to classifications for pay television, on what levels of violence and

depictions of sex should be allowed, and what other matters should be included for viewing by adults and children in the various classifications.

This recommendation has already been implemented through legislation.

The Broadcasting Services Act 1992 provides that subscription television broadcasting licensees are to ensure that access to programs classified as 'R' by the Office of Film and Literature Classification is restricted by disabling devices acceptable to the ABA. It also provides that 'R' classified programs will not be broadcast:

. until the ABA has completed extensive, Australia-wide qualitative and quantitative research on community standards of taste and decency; and

. the ABA has recommended, and the Parliament has, by resolution of each House approved, the broadcast of such programs (Schedule 2, s. 10(1 )(g)).

This position was reached in the Senate after numerous amendments.

For programs such as news, sport and documentaries, under the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 all broadcasting service providers must develop codes of practice that take account of matters including sexual

conduct, nudity and psychological violence. The codes are to be developed in consultation with the ABA and take account of any relevant research conducted by the ABA.

The ABA is to maintain a Register of the codes and this register is to be open for public inspection. If the codes of practice fail, the ABA has the power to

i l l

determine program standards. The ABA will, before determining, varying or revoking a standard, seek public comment on the proposed standard, variation or revocation.

Recommendation 3: That, in view of the inconclusive evidence received by the Committee during its inquiry, standards for programs on pay television should be the same as those currently set by the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal for free-to-air television, until the

results of the research recommended by the Committee in Recommendation 2 become available.

Recommendation 3, has largely been put into effect through the ban on 'R' material on Pay TV pending the results of ABA research.

Under the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 codes of practice may relate to preventing the broadcasting of programs that in accordance with community standards, are not suitable to be broadcast; to methods of ensuring that the protection of children from exposure to program material which may be harmful to them is a high priority; and to methods of classifying programs that reflect community standards.

Under the Act, subscription television broadcasting licensees will not broadcast a program that has been classified as 'X' by the Office of Film and literature Classification (OLFC). The licensee is to ensure that access to programs classified as 'R' by the OLFC is restricted by disabling devices acceptable to the ABA, broadcasting 'R' material only after the ABA has completed extensive, Australia-wide qualitative and quantitative research on community standards of taste and decency regarding violence and sex, and after the ABA has approved their broadcast.

Under the Broadcasting Services (Subscription Television Broadcasting) Amendment Act 1992, the ABA may impose a licence condition on subscription television broadcasting licensees designed to ensure compliance with the film classification system administered by the OLFC.

Pay TV will be subject to the common classification system of 'O', 'PGR', 'M', 'MA and ‘R‘ which will be administered by the OLFC.

Recommendation 4: That Telecom adopt as the code of conduct for videotex services, including closed user access videotex services, the following:

The provider of any videotex service will not provide knowingly or negligently information which in any way may be interpreted as equivalent either to the X or R film/video classification, or to the Category 2 classification for literature.

This recommendation was accepted in principle by Telstra. As previously advised to the Committee, Telstra does not now provide videotex services of

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the type which would cause this code of conduct to be taken into consideration.

Recommendation 5: That AOTC and other telecommunications service carriers enter into a contract with the Office of Film and Literature Classification for it to act as the monitoring and enforcing body for the code of conduct for videotex services.

This recommendation was accepted in principle by Telstra.

The Committee has made a valuable contribution and has thoroughly investigated a difficult area where there are many community views.

In conclusion I thank the Committee for a comprehensive report on a difficult subject.

THE HON BOB COLLINS MINISTER FOR TRANSPORT AND COMMUNICATIONS

APPENDIX 4

ATTITUDINAL STUDIES

The Committee has focused its attention on four studies in relation to the Australian public's attitude to media depictions, which provide some indication of its likely attitude to the prospect of R-rated material on pay TV. The four studies are:

. Exploring Attitudes Towards Film, TV and Video Classifications: A Marketing Research Report, September 1992, by Frank Small & Associates, on behalf of the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal and the Office of Film and Literature Classification;

. Community Standards for Pay TV Interim Report, May 1993, and Community Standards for Pay T V - Report on the National Survey, March 1994, both by Keys Young on behalf of the Australian Broadcasting Authority;

. Australian Perceptions o f Films, Videos and Computer Games, April 1994, an Australian Bureau of Statistics survey commissioned by the Office of Film and Literature Classification; and

. Survey Report: Awareness o f 'R' Classification, 10 October 1994, ABS Adelaide, commissioned by the Office of Film and Literature Classification.

Frank Small & Associates report

The report by Frank Small & Associates combined the results of both qualitative and quantitative research stages. The initial qualitative research was carried out in both a city, Sydney, and a country town, Dubbo NSW, to ensure that the full gamut of Australian opinion was canvassed. 100 people in Sydney and 38 in Dubbo were

involved. While procedures in both centres were not identical because of equipment constraints, participants were shown film clips depicting various levels of sex and nudity, violence and coarse language, taken from PG, M and R material. They were then required to record their responses to the clips. A smaller number of individuals were then personally interviewed by the researchers. Groups representing a range

of demographic and lifecycle characteristics then took part in discussions in a home environment. With the quantitative stage of the research, 1016 people aged 16 years and over, representative of the national population, were interviewed by telephone.

In seeking to determine the community's attitude to depictions of sex, nudity, language and violence the study found that violence was of most concern. The research found that:

. 65% believed there is a connection between violence depicted on TV and what occurs in real life;

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. 79% believed that depictions of sensitively handled sex activity and nudity are perfectly acceptable for adult TV viewing;

. 67% accepted the occasional use of 'four letter' words on TV when appropriate to the context of the story;

. 29% surveyed, agreed to having full 'M ' or Έ ' rated film material on free-to- air television.

Using multivariate analysis, three segments of public attitude to television material were identified:

. 34% agreed to 'complete freedom of expression', with little or no concern regarding broadcasting of sex, nudity, coarse language and violence;

. 40% were particularly concerned about the depiction of violence on screen;

. 26% were concerned about violence but also concerned about coarse language, sex and nudity;

Community attitudes to pay TV were also examined without being quantified. In depth discussion revealed that for some people the safeguards of electing to install the system in the first place and the added presence of a keycard/security system was sufficient to allow stronger material on pay TV than on free-to-air television. Respondents were interested in pay TV because they would be able to access "good films that have not been edited" or could obtain a better quality or range of entertainment.

Without showing actual X-rated material, but being advised that it contained "explicit" depictions of sex between consenting adults, 70% saw such depictions as acceptable for an adult audience, particularly on video, although only 19% saw it as appropriate for television.

Keys Young - Qualitative Survey

An interim report on the qualitative phase of the Keys Young attitudinal research study was produced in May 1993 after its publication had being requested by the Committee in correspondence to the ABA the previous month. In a report to the Senate in May 1993, before the Keys Young report was received, the Committee outlined concerns it held about the conduct of the qualitative phase. The Committee was concerned that if the qualitative phase of the research project was seriously

flawed, the subsequent quantitative phase would lack validity. However, rather than repeat those concerns here, the Committee has summarised the interim report's findings without comment. Their validity will be able to be judged against the findings of comparable studies described in this Appendix.

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R-rated material on pay TV Attitudinal studies

The ABA's research brief had established that the methodology for the qualitative study should consist of ten focus groups of ten participants from two States, involving both urban and rural areas. The focus group discussions were designed to generate hypotheses which could later be assessed through the survey questionnaire.

However, the qualitative research was seen as meaningful in its own right because it offered detailed responses to the complex issues and policy questions under examination and also responded to examples of relevant visual material. Keys Young nonetheless stressed that "qualitative research by its very nature is not representative of a target population."

The consultants set out to hear the views of a broad range of respondents, particularly sub-groups who may have had particular concerns about pay TV content. New South Wales and South Australia were chosen as the two States for the focus group discussions and Bega and Mount Gambier as the rural centres. A

range of locations in the cities and of venues were used to ensure a variety of respondents. The final target groups used for the qualitative survey consisted of:

. parents of children aged under 12 years; . parents of teenagers and older children; . parents aged 50 years and older; . parents of non-English speaking background;

. people aged 20 - 40 years with no children.

Because the protection of minors was seen as a key issue in relation to pay TV content, parental status was a requisite for participation in all but two of the target groups.

Procedures used for conducting the focus group included entrance and exit questionnaires, explanation of the research parameters, a discussion of pay TV, classification requirements, showing of film clips and discussing responses and, finally, discussion of access restrictions and mechanisms to regulate access.

Key issues to emerge from the focus group discussions were summarised in the interim report as being:

. Knowledge of pay TV was low and interest in subscribing was also quite low.

. Censorship was widely criticised and a large majority spoke in favour of people's right to see what they had paid for...Paramount importance was given to choice and the right of adults to have multiple viewing options.

. Rating categories were unclear to a large proportion of informants who were often unable to distinguish between them or understand the rationale of the classification. Nevertheless people considered them important and looked

forward to greater clarity and more consumer advice with the introduction of pay TV.

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R-rated material on pay TV Attitudinal studies

. Coarse language was not a big issue. Generally it was disliked and found to be irritating and unnecessary rather than offensive.

. Nudity and sex scenes (if separated from violence) were generally not seen as offensive especially in the context of a loving relationship.

. Violence was a huge concern and context was all important to its impact. People often acknowledged the moral dilemma of protesting against such material yet asserting the rights of others to view it.

. Opening the floodgates by allowing R rated films on pay TV was seen as a further step towards ever more liberal moral standards. There was a sense of inevitability about this trend and powerlessness in the face of it.

. Balance in programming was an important issue. While R rated films were acceptable as part of pay TV content, they were not wanted as a main component of a film channel and striking the right balance was a matter of debate.

. The policy question of whether to include R rated programs on pay TV was answered in the affirmative by the majority of respondents despite their serious reservations about much of the material. The main argument advanced was that the paying adult viewer had the right to choose R rated programs while avoidance was straightforward, especially given a disabling device.

The consultants made the proviso, however, that it was not possible to gauge at that point of the study whether these views were typical of the wider community.

Keys Young - Quantitative Survey

The quantitative national survey phase was conducted by Keys Young in November and December 1993. It involved face-to-face surveys of 2,440 people aged 18 years and over representative of the Australian population in terms of age, gender and geographical location. A most critical methodological difficulty related to the fact that respondents would have variable understanding of what constituted R, yet it was impractical to show excerpts of R-rated material as part of the interview process. After extensive consideration and two pilot exercises the consultants decided to use the OFLC's definition in conjunction with other questions designed to ensure respondents had an informed view of what constituted R-rated material.

The findings from the national survey are too numerous to list here and were the subject of further analysis by the ABA in its report R Classified Programs on Pay TV, tabled in the Senate in December 1994. The Committee has outlined below only the national survey's major findings.

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In surveying viewing habits of respondents, 64% reported that they watched R rated videos or movies. This finding was consistent across parental status, State/Territory and capital city residence. Men (71%) were more likely than women (57%) to say that they watched R-rated material. The consultants indicated that it was possible

that respondents had underestimated the frequency and likelihood of access to R- rated material, on the basis of the numbers who identified themselves as having seen one or more of a list of ten R-rated films, whose R rating was not initially revealed to them.

Of particular interest to the terms of this inquiry was that 82% of respondents supported the option of adults watching R-rated material on pay TV in the home. Support for R-rated sexual content on pay TV was given by 70% of respondents, of this group 52% felt that it should only be seen on a separate channel while 17%

agreed to it being seen amongst other program choices. Opposition to R rated sexual content being seen at all on pay TV comprised 28% of respondents.

70% of those surveyed supported R-rated violence being shown on pay TV, although 54% of this group believed violence should only be permitted if it was absolutely necessary to the program's story. Broadcasting of R-rated violence on pay TV was opposed by 30% of respondents under any circumstances.

Although still constituting a majority, only 54% of respondents indicated support for broadcasting of sexual violence on Pay TV, of this group 46% felt it should only be permitted if absolutely necessary to the program's story and was not exploitative. A considerable minority, 45% of respondents, opposed the depiction of R-rated sexual

violence on pay TV under any circumstances. Gender was a major factor in the response on R-rated sexual violence. In contrast to male respondents (38%), the majority of women respondents (52%) said that they thought sexual violence should not be permitted on pay TV under any circumstances.

Although 68% of respondents did not believe that watching R-rated programs on pay TV would have a bad effect on them, 61% believed that such material could effect other adults. Preferred times for broadcasting of R-rated material on pay TV was after 9pm to 11 pm (50%) and after 11pm to 6am (54%). Minimal support was given

for R-rated material being seen on pay TV during the day.

One issue where a definitive majority view was not evident was over safeguarding children's access to R-rated material. 67% of respondents saw such controls as 'start up' cards and PIN numbers as a secure way of preventing children and teenagers from watching R-rated programs on pay TV. An overall 59% also took the view that

PIN numbers and parental supervision were adequate safeguards for children, but a majority view was not held on this issue amongst women or non-capital city residents. Some 31% felt that the Government should prevent all R-rated material being broadcast on pay TV.

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R-rated material on pay TV Attitudinal studies

While the results of the national survey indicated a clear majority support for R- rated material being permitted on pay TV, imposition of certain conditions and controls was regarded as critical to that support. These measures included restricted broadcast hours, adequate pre-screening information and the use of appropriate

safeguards and security devices such as PIN numbers.

Australian Bureau of Statistics surveys

The first Australian Bureau of Statistics survey collected information on behalf of the Office of Film and Literature Classification using the February 1994 Population Survey Monitor (PSM). The PSM is a quarterly household survey conducted throughout Australia whose purpose is to gather information about the characteristics and attitudes of the general population or particular groups of people. Out of an initial 3000 private dwellings systematically selected from a random sample of Census Collector Districts, completed questionnaires were obtained from 2,337 private households. The ABS report states that it considers the results of the survey to be representative of the total Australian population.

In relation to cinema, video and computer game usage by children aged 12 years and under, the survey found that this group were most likely to use home-based entertainment: 58% had watched a video and 46% had played a computer game within the fortnight prior to the survey. Only 9% had been to the cinema. In respect to adult supervision of children's viewing in this age group:

90% [of adults surveyed] stated they were either moderately (12%) or heavily (78%) involved in the children's choice of cinema films and videotapes (p.14).

With children aged 13-17 years, 55% had watched a video and 51% had played a computer game during the survey period. Cinema attendance was 22%. The degree of adult supervision was slightly lower with this age group with 64% of adults either moderately (25%) or heavily (39%) involved in the children's choice of cinema and videos and only 41% either moderately (13%) or heavily (28%) involved in the choice of computer games.

Adult use of cinema, video and computer game media differed according to age. For instance, the under 40's are more likely to watch an R or an X-rated film than over 40's. Specific breakdown of those adults having viewed an R rated film was: 63.5% in the 18-24 age group, 43.7% in the 25-39 age group, 29.7% in the 40-54 age group and 14.3% in the 55+ age group.

One of the key points arising from the survey was that a majority of 2 to 1 adults holding a firm opinion believed that X-rated videotapes should be available to persons 18 years and over (56% agreed, 29% disagreed and 15% did not have an

opinion on this issue).

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R-rated material on pay TV Attitudinal studies

The report of the second ABS survey is unpublished, but was supplied to the Committee for its consideration. The topic of the awareness of the R classification was included in the August 1994 Population Survey Monitor at the request of the OFLC. Completed questionnaires were obtained from 2,328 households.

Respondents were initially asked a question intended to gauge their understanding of the R classification. Some 65% were able to correctly identify the meaning of Έ' as restricted to adults 18 years and over, while a large minority gave responses indicative of a lack of knowledge of the restricted nature of the classification.

After being advised by the interviewer of the nature of the restrictions that apply to R-rated material in relation to minors' access to cinemas and to video sale and hire, respondents were then asked a series of questions designed to seek their attitude to its availability. 84.6% of males and 72.2% of females expressed support

for R-rated films and videos being available for adult viewing, although almost twice as many females expressed opposition (19.9%) as males (10.7%). Support was highest in the 18-24 and 25-34 age groups and progressively reduced to only 53.7% in the 65 and over category.

Despite this high level of support for adult access to R, respondents also indicated high levels of concern about the system of safeguards designed to stop minors gaining access to R-rated material, with 69.3% of respondents stating the view that existing controls were not adequate.

Those respondents who had expressed doubts about R-rated material being available to adults or who had doubts about the adequacy of the existing system of controls were then asked whether R-rated material should be available if further safeguards were in place to restrict viewing by minors. Only 16% showed support for this

concept while the majority (58%), representing 11.7% of the total sample, continued their opposition to R in its entirety. Some 29%, however, could not settle a view on this topic.

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έ '

APPENDIX 5

INTERNATIONAL EXPERIENCE OF R-RATED OR EQUIVALENT MATERIAL ON PAY TV

International classification systems

A variety of different broadcasting classification systems have been adopted. These classification systems seek to identify and rate in importance specific behavioural categories to be measured, and to determine the age at which the viewing of these behaviours is appropriate (J. Federman, Film and Television Ratings: an

international assessment, p.15).

Age thresholds

The vast majority of media classification and rating systems internationally are based on the appropriateness of depictions of various behavioural categories according to the age of the viewer (ibid.). The results of a survey of age thresholds for media viewing in thirty-six countries and provinces was produced in the US in

1993 in a document entitled Film and Television Ratings: an international assessment. A table summarising the findings of this survey has been reproduced at the end of this appendix.

The survey found that most age thresholds fall between 12 and 18 years, with the majority of those countries and provinces surveyed choosing 18 as the legal age for the viewing of restricted material. The large range of age thresholds extending from five years through to 21 years does, however, indicate a concern among those

nations surveyed as to the influence of televised materials on the development of individuals at varying levels of maturity.

Behavioural categories

Depictions of violence, sex, bad language and adult themes remain the behavioural categories most often considered in any classification system, with standards for regulation differing widely between countries. Recent international concerns surrounding the potentially harmful effects of media violence have called into

question classification systems preoccupied primarily with restricting depictions of sex. For example, in the United States, material containing depictions of explicit sex receive an adult rating, while material containing depictions of violence may be rated suitable for general exhibition (J. Federman, Film and Television Ratings, p.13).

Conversely, Latin American and European countries in general allow far more graphic depictions of sex in the mass media. Likewise, Sweden appears to be far less conservative where depictions of sex are concerned and, in contrast with the more

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R-rated material on pay TV International experience

conservative countries, 'erotic film sequences are not automatically regarded by the film censors as inappropriate for children...' (ibid.).

Classification of depictions of nudity also differs widely internationally. In the United States, depictions of televised female nudity usually give rise to an adult rating, while full-frontal male nudity will often be removed from films for the same classification. European nations appear to have fewer restrictions with regard to such depictions, with screenings of the same films often including the full frontal male and female nudity scenes (J. Federman, Film and Television Ratings, p.14).

While the US may demonstrate a certain conservatism in relation to classification of depictions of sex and nudity in broadcast materials, there has been in the past a far greater tolerance of depictions of violence. This tolerance has been challenged in recent times, with surveys suggesting that up to eighty percent of the American public believe that television violence is harmful to society (J. Federman, Film and

Television Ratings, p.l) and with numerous international studies suggesting a link between televised violence and aggressive behaviour. Sweden, by contrast, demonstrates an intolerance for depictions of violence in the media, with Swedish law imposing fines or up to two years imprisonment for the presentation of material via film or television which depicts "sexual violence or coercion," or "graphic violence toward people or animals in a detailed or outdrawn manner" (J. Federman, Film and

Television Ratings, p.14)

Similar concerns have, for a number of years, motivated the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) to follow a policy of cutting the violence allowed in films screened in the United Kingdom, with gross violence and scenes of sadistic cruelty being removed even from movies classified for adults only viewing (BBFC Annual

Report for 1991, p.10). Non-violent erotic material deemed to be pornographic by the BBFC is given an R18 classification and restricted to sale in licensed sex shops to which persons under the age of 18 years are not admitted (BBFC Annual Report for 1991, p.14).

The release of videos in the United Kingdom is covered by the Video Recordings Act (1984), which requires that all videos released in the UK are classified by the BBFC. The stringent guidelines followed by the BBFC in its classification of videos reflects growing evidence that material classified as suitable only for persons aged 15 or 18 years and over is being viewed in the home by much younger audiences due, to a

certain extent, to a lack of parental control or supervision. (Briefing Note 44, The Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology, London, June 1993, p.l) The same material would be unavailable to an underage audience in cinemas. The enormous outcry in the UK following the murder of James Bulger by two children in 1993 inspired a further clamp-down on media violence by the BBFC, with intense public debate centring on the effects of televised sex and violence on children. Responding to public concerns, UK Home Secretary Michael Howard announced on 12 April

1994 the tightening of controls over violence in videos. The BBFC consequently refused classification to a number of videos containing excessive depictions of

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violence and sex (Billboard Magazine, vl06, issue nl9, 7 May 1994, UK). Critics of the UK classification system have pointed out, however, that controls over the content of televised material do not fully extend to satellite and cable broadcasts in the UK, with the BBFC having no direct administrative power over what is

transmitted into UK homes via these mediums (The Guardian, 14.4.94, UK.)

Regulation of R-rated or equivalent material on Pay TV

Systems concerned with the regulation of R-rated or equivalent material on pay TV internationally are as diverse as those measures seeking to classify media content. Modes of regulation vary from the 'no regulation, free market' approach to censorship, watershed hours, labelling systems and disabling devices. It is noted,

however, that while the regulation of R-rated or equivalent material on pay TV is secured in some countries by way of legislation, self regulation remains the most common form of management of this material.

United States

The United States pay TV system functions under a relatively free market approach, with pay TV providers able to operate under the usual statutory provisions regarding obscenity, blasphemy and sedition, along with any local obligations concerning community access (Evidence, 23.9.91, p.472). In recent times, however,

pressure has been brought to bear on both conventional and pay TV companies to reduce excessive levels of televised violence and sex, with national surveys showing that nearly two-thirds of American adults find violence and sex themes on television programs offensive.

On 5 August 1993, a House of Representatives member, Mr Edward J. Markey introduced to Congress the Television Violence Reduction Through Parental Empowerment Act o f 1993. The aim of this proposed legislation is to give parents the power to block access by their children to programs which contain harmful

depictions of violence, among its requirements are:

(1) TV sets must be capable of blocking programs based on a violence rating or advisory sent electronically by the broadcasters or cablecaster ... and,

(2) TV sets must be capable of blocking the display of programs or time slots as well as channels so that parents can block an individual program even if it does not carry an advisory (Speech to Congress, Mr Edward J. Markey,

5.8.93, p.3).

Mr Markey commented that the draft legislation had bipartisan support and that its rationale ensures th a t'... parents are given the power to send a message directly to the industry. The Government will not be involved. This is the most democratic of initiatives - it gives the heartland the power to combat the excessive violence

contained in programs...' (Speech to Congress, Mr Edward J. Markey, 5.8.93, p.2).

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The US House of Representatives Subcommittee on Telecommunications and Finance, which Mr Markey chairs, conducted a number of hearings from June - September 1993 on the subject of television violence which were in response to increasing concerns being voiced by parents, consumer groups, medical and psychiatric associations. Specific topics covered were:

. Oversight hearing on violence on television focusing on technology and parental empowerment, 25 June 1993.

. Oversight hearing on television violence which included a proposal for an industiy-sponsored ratings system for violence, 1 July 1993.

. Oversight hearing on television violence and the role of television advertisers, 29 July 1993.

. Oversight hearing on television violence and its impact on minorities and children, 15 September 1993.

In evidence to these hearings many media groups supported the initiatives of the Subcommittee but leaned towards self-regulation through the establishment of voluntary guidelines. Some broadcasters and cable operators expressed opposition to the compulsory introduction of disabling devices. Nevertheless, it appears that most broadcasters and production companies are starting to take heed of public concerns about depictions of excessive or gratuitous violence in films and programs seen on TV in the US. For instance, Mr Ted Turner, Chairman of the large broadcasting group, Turner Broadcasting System, indicated to the Subcommittee that he:

...emphatically endorsed the idea of a TV ratings system to alert parents to violent content in programming. Moreover, he recommended that parents be empowered to exercise greater control over the viewing habits in their household through the use of existing technology to block out entire channels

or individual programs. [He] called upon the rest of the television industry to follow his lead and stem the torrent of violence on television (Statement of Chairman Edward J. Markey, Subcommittee on Telecommunications and Finance, 1.7.93, p.l).

The Los Angeles Times reported on 8 June 1994 that, under pressure to reduce violence levels, a number of US pay TV channels are moving to institute a labelling system to warn viewers about the content of every program they offer. Cable executives described the move as a voluntary effort to provide more information to subscribers, especially parents trying to limit the exposure of their children to violence, sex and offensive language. In a related move, The National Council Of Women of Australia advised the Committee that President Bill Clinton has requested the Hollywood film industry to be more sensitive to community concerns and reduce the levels of violence depicted in film (Evidence, 19.5.94, p.775).

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Adult programming has proven popular on pay TV in the US, with The Playboy Channel available in approximately 9 million homes and Graf pay-per-View's Spice channel reaching approximately 7 million homes. (Broadcasting & Cable Journal, volume 123, issue 44, 1.11.93, p.26). A 1988 federal law prohibiting the carriage of pornographic material via satellite and cable has, however, been enforced on a number of occasions with fines being imposed for the breach of regulations

(Communications Daily, volume 12, issue 21, US, 31.1.92). Additionally, a number of satellite-delivered "hard R-rated" program services were closed down in 1990, charged with violating state obscenity laws (Television Digest, volume 30, issue 22,

US, 28.5.90).

With regard to the use of technological safeguards for pay TV in the US, in a hearing on 19 May 1994, Professor Stuart Cunningham advised the Committee that:

...[as well as the] general disabling of whole channels with smart cards and accompanying PIN numbers. What is also being trialled in the US now is the ability to code individual programs with S for sex and V for violence kinds of

codes, and to be able to disable individual programs rather than simply disable whole channels at various times (Evidence 19.5.94, p.834).

On 15 June 1994, the Committee heard evidence from Professor Robyn Quin which also commented on US experience with disabling devices:

...there is evidence from mainly the United States that such aids which allow the owners to program out shows are expensive, very difficult to use and unlikely to be used (Evidence 15.6.94, p.989).

Canada

There are currently five pay TV services and two pay-per-view services in Canada. However, two additional pay television services are expected to begin operations in January 1995. These broadcasters are subject to licensing and regulatory supervision by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).

The CRTC's role is subject to the provisions of the Broadcasting Act (1991). In respect to broadcasting responsibilities of licensees, Section 3 of the Act is particularly pertinent to the interests of this inquiry. Section 3.(l)(g) states:

the programming originated by broadcasting undertakings should be of high standard;

also Section 3.(l)(h) provides that:

all persons who are licensed to carry on broadcasting undertakings have a responsibility for the programs they broadcast.

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Advice in a letter to this Committee from the Canadian Director General, Broadcasting Policy on 8 September 1994, reveals that these sections have been interpreted to mean that the licensee alone decides what is presented and that their decision is not subject to any prior scrutiny or approval mechanism.

The CRTC, however, introduced Pay Television Regulations in 1990 which place some restrictions on programming content. Section 3.(2) provide that:

No licensee shall distribute programming

(a) that contains anything in contravention of the law;

(b) that contains any abusive comment or abusive pictorial representation that, when taken in context, tends or is likely to expose an individual or a group or class of individuals to hatred or contempt on the basis of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability...

Consideration was also given in 1990 by CRTC to prohibit in the regulations, distribution of obscene or profane programming and to require that viewers be provided with mandatory advice about program content. After hearing public comment, however, the CRTC decided against adopting either measure as existing regulatory measures seemed to be working:

The Commission notes t h a t ... licensees are responsible for ensuring that no material shall be selected that is contrary to law or offensive to general community standards. The Commission has received very few complaints regarding programming content since 1985, when it accepted the [industry's] Standards and Practices, and is of the view, following the most recent renewal hearings, that pay TV licensees are making every effort to adhere to this industry code. Given the discretionary nature of this service and the guidelines in place, the Commission is of the view that there is no need to introduce this additional requirement (Letter to Committee Secretariat from Director General Broadcasting Policy, 8.9.94, p.3).

The industry standards that have been developed in Canada include requirements to provide program advice to viewers. These measures provide that:

. program guides must provide warnings regarding the nature of the material to be aired;

. simple letter classifications must be provided in pay TV guides for all programs; and

. on-air warnings at the beginning of programs must be provided where appropriate (ibid.).

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The CRTC concluded in their 1990 inquiry that as few complaints had been received about programming on pay TV services, licensees were adequately complying with their Practices and Standards code.

Accordingly, it would appear that the combination of the CRTC's Pay Television Regulations and the self-regulation by pay TV licensees in Canada through their code of practice, are successful in ensuring that pay TV programming is meeting community standards. Nonetheless, the pay TV industry in Canada is trialling the use of the V-Chip as a disabling device in Alberta households. However, this system

needs a standardised television classification system which would allow the broadcaster to encode and transm it program types. While not yet devised, a classification system is under development by the Action Group on Violence in Television. This group comprises Canadian television and cable operators, pay and

specialty service licensees, advertising and production industry representatives (Letter from Director General Broadcasting Policy, 8.9.94, p.4).

Europe

There is a common basis for broadcasting policy and regulations in European countries which are members of the European Union. The European Council Directive of 3 October 1989 deals with the co-ordination of laws, regulations or administrative action in Member States concerning television broadcasting. Article

22 of this directive deals with the protection of minors:

Member States shall take appropriate measures to ensure that television broadcasts by broadcasters under their jurisdiction do not include programmes which might seriously impair the physical, mental or moral development of minors, in particular those that involve pornography or

gratuitous violence. This provision shall extend to other programmes which are likely to impair the physical, mental or moral development of minors, except where it is ensured, by selecting the time of the broadcast or by any technical measure, that minors in the area of transmission will not normally hear or see such broadcasts.

Member States shall also ensure that broadcasts do not contain any incitement to hatred on grounds of race, sex, religion or nationality (Official Journal of the European Communities No L 298/29, 17.10.89, pp.8/9).

The nature of international satellite broadcasting complicates the regulation of R- rated material on pay TV, especially for European countries. For instance, Professor Stuart Cunningham cited to the Committee the example of Red Hot Television which provided fairly hard core material which was uplinked from a Danish provider

and beamed into Britain. Professor Cunningham advised that regulation of this situation was a European Union legal problem and would have to be dealt with under the European Law and European directive on audiovisual material, rather than under national laws. Evidence 19.5.94, p.830). Under Article 2 of the general

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provisions of the Directive, Member States are not allowed to suspend retransmission of broadcasts coming from another Member State unless it manifestly, seriously and gravely infringes Article 22 (ibid, pp.5/9). However, the British Government has moved to restrict the accessibility of such materials by banning the sale of decoders for such foreign based channels.

According to Article 25 of the Directive all Member States of the European Union were required to introduce their own laws and regulations to comply with the Directive by 3 October 1991 Official Journal of the European Communities No L

298/30, 17.10.89, pp.9/9). For the purposes of examining a representative sample of measures taken by Member States from the European Union, a brief summary of broadcasting policy and regulation in France and the United Kingdom is provided below.

France

Broadcasting regulatory bodies have existed in France since 1982, however until 1986 there was a state monopoly of broadcasting services. This setup was subsequently deregulated and the Commission Nationale de la Communications et des Libertes (CNCL) was established. The French equivalent to Chief Censor, Mr Francois Hurard wrote in an article that the CNCL was established to ensure that:

...[there was] a delicate balance between the defence of freedom of expression and the imperative of 'safe-guarding childhood and adolescence'(Article 15 of the law of 1986) which, along with the concept of 'compliance with the dignity of the human being', were the only grounds which the authorities could intervene over the content of programmes (Article by F. Hurard, Sex and Sexuality in Broadcasting, 'Sex on French television', p.104).

Initially, the broadcasting laws with which CNCL worked only contained very general principles which CNCL pragmatically interpreted or expanded on. However, these laws were increasingly challenged by both the State channels and private channels operating on a subscription basis, with increased programming of violent and soft porn material after 10:30pm. In 1988 a private broadcaster La Cinq brought the regulation issue to a head by ignoring CNCL directions to move a film forbidden to children under 16 from its 8:30pm timeslot to 10:30pm. Legal proceedings were

initiated by CNCL against the broadcaster which resulted in a landmark decision. The presiding judge ruled that because of the nature of the countless scenes of sexual perversion contained in the film, the broadcaster was given the ultimatum not to screen the film before 10:30pm or pay a fine of 1 million francs. This decision was significant on two grounds: i.

i. the 10:30pm time slot was virtually made as the official watershed, and,

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ii. although the law could impose a particular transmission time for such broadcasts, it could not ban or censor them. (F. Hurard, Sex and Sexuality in Broadcasting, 'Sex on French television', pp.104-105)

A new audio visual law was passed in 1989 which replaced the CNCL with the Counseil Superieur de l'Audiovisuel (CSA) to regulate French broadcasting. The CSA accordingly issued a directive on 5 May 1989 aimed at ensuring broadcasters protect children and adolescents from being exposed to inappropriate

material during prime viewing hours. Of specific interest are directions 3 and 4:

. The company shall refrain from broadcasting programmes, in particular cinematic or video works, of an erotic nature or those likely to incite violence, between 6am and 10:30pm. It must in particular ensure that advertisements for these broadcasts are not shown before 8:30 pm and that they do not

contain scenes likely to offend the sensitivity of children and adolescents.

. The company must warn television viewers, in an appropriate manner, when it is scheduling and broadcasting programmes likely to offend their sensitivity, and particularly audiences made up of children and adolescents. This warning must accompany any presentation made on air of the broadcast

concerned (F.Hurard, Sex and Sexuality in Broadcasting, 'Sex on French television1 ,p. 105).

The CSA further advised broadcasters in June 1989 that the film classification categories of the Commission de Classification des Films Cinematographiques were to be applied to television. Accordingly:

...broadcasters were advised not to show films, forbidden to the under-twelves, before 10.00pm, and not to show films forbidden to the under-sixteens before 10.30pm. The showing of X-rated films and cinema films banned to the under- eighteens is only permitted on an encrypted service which has additional

access limitations (PIN-code or card) and there are very precise scheduling restrictions (midnight to five o'clock in the morning)(ibid., p.106).

Francois Hurard summed up the changes that have evolved in French broadcasting policy as follows:

The taboos which had surrounded the depiction of sex on television for a long time have been lifted on the grounds of freedom of communication; on financial grounds, as the race to capture an audience gathers; on more sociological grounds, as society and mores evolves. There has been no doubt

some abuse of this transformation and this, in itself, has justified the measures taken by the regulator who, on questions concerning eroticism and pornography on the screen, finds he must tread a fine line between the rights of the freedom to communicate versus the protection of children and

teenagers (ibid.).

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United Kingdom

The pay TV system in the United Kingdom operates with a degree of flexibility, under similar restrictions to those applied to terrestrial broadcasting. This flexibility functions under the acknowledgment that subscription broadcasting allows viewers a greater capacity to select and to control the materials they will be exposed to through the service (BBFC Annual Report for 1991, p.16).

While materials appearing on pay TV channels are classified in accordance with BBFC standards, watershed hours differ to those applied to terrestrial broadcasts. More lenient regulations with respect to watershed hours on pay TV services allow Ί5' films (suitable only for viewing by persons aged 15 years and over) to be screened on pay TV at 8.00 pm rather than 9.00 pm time slot imposed on free-to-air TV. This concession is subject to such factors as the degree of violence and sex depicted (BBFC Annual Report for 1991, p.16)..

Films refused BBFC classification are banned from screening at any time, as are films given an R18 classification (materials deemed pornographic and relegated to licensed sex shops) (BBFC Annual Report for 1991, p.16). These materials can, of course, be beamed into the United Kingdom via satellite, by-passing government regulations, as occured with the Dutch-based Red Hot TV which featured late-night X-rated movies. As alluded to above, this service is no longer available as the British

Government has circumvented this problem by outlawing the sale of decoders for that service (Television Digest, volume 33, issue 46,15.11.93, UK). Softcore sex films rated Ί8' (suitable for viewing by persons aged 18 years and over), may be screened only after 10.00 pm.

In terms of technological safeguards applied to pay TV services in the UK, satellite subscribers are able to utilise a 'smart' card, which has the capacity to block the transmission of the various channels if desired. This safeguard is unavailable to viewers subscribing to cable services (BBFC Annual Report for 1991, p.16).

Reference was made to the UK and New Zealand experience of pay TV in evidence given to the Committee by Professor Stuart Cunningham:

...there is very little [of] what you and I would treat as objectionable material on those services. There is very little of it, indeed, almost nothing. The services are very broad based kinds of services...New Zealand and British pay television...are the closest in the world to what we will have on national satellite pay TV in terms of range of channels, number of channels, means of delivery, economic parameters, and so on. There is almost no problem with R material on those services (Evidence 19.5.94, pp.839-840).

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New Zealand

Three separate systems existed for classifying and censoring films, videos and publications in New Zealand. This has recently been reviewed and has resulted in the New Zealand parliament passing legislation entitled the Films, Videos, and Publication Classification Act 1993 on 17 August 1993. The purpose of the Act is to

consolidate and amend the law relating to the censorship of films, videos, books and other publications (collectively referred to in the Act as publications); and to repeal the Indecent Publications Act 1963, the Films Act 1983, and the Video Recordings Act 1987.

The new system setup in New Zealand with the passing of an all encompassing classification law, mirrors many aspects of the Australian system. For instance, the Act creates an Office of Film and Literature Classification and requires 'labelling' of advertising to provide classification information to the community (OFLC

Submission No 44/37,10.3.94, p.4). Under section 9 of the Act the label must include the rating assigned to the film and a description of the publication's contents. The criteria in the Act for deciding whether to restrict or refuse the circulation of publications is found at section 3 and depends on whether the material is deemed

'objectionable.' Objectionable material is defined in considerable detail and includes such depictions which describe, depict, express or deal with matters of sex, horror, crime, cruelty or violence, in a manner which is injurious to the public good. These categories of publications are specifically deemed as objectionable if they involve

exploitation of children for sexual purposes, sexual conduct involving violence or coercion, necrophilia, urophilia, coprophilia, bestiality or acts of extreme violence or cruelty.

Other factors required to be considered in determining whether a publication is deemed objectionable in accordance with the Act are the extent and degree that the material involves degrading and dehumanising behaviour, acts of terrorism or criminal behaviour, or denigrates members of the public on the basis of colour, race,

ethnic or national origins, sex, physical or intellectual capacity, or religious beliefs. Finally, in determining whether to classify or reject a publication, regard must be given to the impact of the medium for which the publication is intended, such as the target audience and the merit of any literary, artistic, social, cultural, educational

or scientific intent which the producer of the publication may claim.

There are three classifications specified under section 23 of the Act:

. Unrestricted; or

. Objectionable; or

. Objectionable (restricted) except in any one or more of the following circumstances:

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(i) If the publication is in the hands of persons who have attained a specified age;

(ii) If the publication's circulation is restricted to specified persons or classes of persons;

(iii) If the publication is used for one or more specified purposes.

All broadcasters (pay TV and free-to-air services) are required by the New Zealand Broadcasting Act 1989 to maintain broadcasting standards which comply with:

(a) The observance of good taste and decency; and

(b) The maintenance of law and order; and

(c) The privacy of the individual; and

(d) The principle that when controversial issues of public importance are discussed, reasonable efforts are made, or reasonable opportunities are given, to present significant points of view either in the same programme or in other programmes within the current period of interest; and

(e) Any approved code of broadcasting applying to the programmes (Letter from the New Zealand Broadcasting Standards Authority, 1.11.94).

The Broadcasting Standards Authority approved a code of practice in October 1993, developed by the major pay TV service provider in New Zealand, Sky Television. In formulating this code of practice Sky Television argued that there is a 'case for a lesser degree of programme content regulation on Pay TV since it is a discretionary service to particular subscribers rather than a broadcast service to the community at large,'(Code of Broadcasting Practice For Pay Television, Sky Television, October

1993, p.l). The Sky Television classifications used in the code are identical to those used and approved by the New Zealand Film Censor:

CENSOR CLASSIFICATION

G Approved for General Exhibition

GY Approved for General Exhibition - recommended as suitable for persons 13 years and over GA Approved for General Exhibition - recommended as suitable for adults R(age) Approved for exhibition to persons of the advertised

age and over

RP Approved for exhibition only to persons of the advertised age and over and to any person under that age when agreed to by that person's parent or guardian (ibid, p.4).

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Also of note is the code's program standard P8 which implies an obligation to adhere to various watershed hours for different programme classifications as follows:

The disabling devices used by Sky Television allow parents to lock-out films they consider unsuitable for children through an electronic coding device using either Smart Cards or PIN numbers. However, the Broadcasting Standards Authority has advised that it understands as few six subscibers have purchased parental control

cards. Although Sky Television is not the only pay TV operator in New Zealand, other pay TV providers exist but are still at a fledgling stage, all operators have available some form of disabling device. Despite having safeguards such as watershed hours and disabling devices, Sky Television 'reserves the right to schedule

films in accordance with commercial requirements. This reservation does not, however, apply to the time band 4.00 - 6.00pm or to any period specifically designated for children'(Code of Broadcasting Practice For Pay Television, Sky Television, October 1993, p.4).

The code of practice developed by Sky Television specifically covers program content for the areas of news and current affairs, children's viewing, depictions of violence and the social responsibilities of Sky Television to its viewers. The code content of these latter three categories are of special interest to the concerns of this inquiry.

In relation to children, Sky acknowledges:

. That themes and scenes dealing with disturbing social and domestic friction or sequences in which children may be humiliated or badly treated are to be avoided in their accepted viewing periods.

. That violence is unacceptable if it is presented in a manner which will unnecessarily disturb, alarm or distress children during their generally accepted viewing periods.

. That it will bear in mind the effect any programme might have on children during their generally accepted viewing periods.

In relation to violence, Sky accepts:

. That it has a responsibility to ensure that when violence forms an integral part of drama or news coverage the context can be justified.

. That the gratuitous use of violence for the purposes of heightened impact is to be avoided.

12.00 - 4.00pm 4.00 - 6.00pm 6.00 - 8.00pm 8.00 - 12.00pm

R13, R16, R18 & GA G & GY R13, G, GY and GA All categories (ibid, p.2)

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. That devices and methods of inflicting pain or injury - particularly if capable of easy imitation - will not be shown without the most careful consideration.

. That the combination of violence and sexuality designed to titillate will not be sanctioned.

. That any portrayal designed to encourage anti-social behaviour, including violent and serious crime, and the abuse of drugs and liquor, will not be sanctioned.

In relation to social responsibilities, Sky will not permit:

The portrayal of persons in programmes in a manner that encourages denigration of, or discrimination against, sections of the community on account of sex, race, age, disability or occupational status, or as a consequence of religious, cultural or political beliefs (Code of Broadcasting Practice For Pay Television, Sky Television, October

1993, p.3).

Only one complaint has been received so far by the Broadcasting Standards Authority about pay TV programming. The complaint was made on the 17 October 1993 about the program Playboy Late N ight/ After Dark screened by Sky Television on 8 October 1993 at 10.45pm. The complainant claimed this program was in breach of broadcasting standards as it was pornographic, lacked good taste and that it objectified and devalued women. A majority of the Authority upheld the complaint in that the show breached program standard P2 of the Code of Broadcasting Practice (which requires that 'currently accepted norms of decency and taste in language and behaviour' are observed). A majority of the Authority declined to uphold the complaint that the program breached standard P25 (which does not permit amongst other things denigration of sections of the community on the grounds of sex). (Broadcasting Standards Authority Decision No: 62/94,15.8.94, p.9). The Broadcasting Standards Authority has advised the Secretariat that they believe there are several more complaints in the 'pipeline' although '...it is fair to say that there is far more public concern in New Zealand currently about free-to-air television program standards than pay television standards.' Also of note is the fact that the first complaint received by the Authority, coincided with political concern being expressed about soft porn and excessive violence appearing on pay television.

(Letter from the Broadcasting Standards Authority, 1.11.94).

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Age T hresholds in Film Rating S y stem s Intern ation ally

C O U N T R Y 5 6 7 8 9 1 0 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 2 0 2 , A d u lt (n o Age l i s t e d )

A rgen tin a R R R ___

A u stralia A / R R ___

Brazil A A A A

C anada — A lberta R R

- Br. C olu m b ia R R ___

— M an itob a A R R

— Q u eb ec A R ___ ___

— N ova S c o tia R R

— S a sk a tc h . R R

D enm ark A R R ___

F rance R R R

G erm any R R R R

H ong K ong R

H ungary A R R

India R R

Israel R R R

J a m a ica R R

J a p an R R

L uxem bourg R R

M alawi R R

M alta R R

M auritius R

M orocco R

N eth erla n d s R R

New Z ealand A A / R R

N igeria R

Norway R R R R

P apua N. G u in ea R

P h ilip p in e s R

S o u th A frica R R R K R

S p ain A A A

S w ed en R R R

S w itzerla n d R R

T aiw an R

U n ited K in g d o m R R R

U n ited S ta t e s A R

A - Advisory Rating R = Restricted Access 137

APPENDIX 6

GUIDELINES FOR FILMS AND VIDEOTAPES

G - General (Suitable for all ages)

Parents should feel confident that children may view material in this classification without supervision, knowing that no distress or harm is likely to be caused.

The following are permissible-Language: The mildest expletives, but only if infrequent and used in exceptional and justifiable circumstances.

Sex: Very discreet verbal references or implications, provided they are justified by the narrative or other context.

Violence: Minimal, mild and incidental depictions, provided they are justified by the context.

PG - Parental Guidance (parental guidance recommended for persons under 15 years)

Films in this classification may contain adult themes or concepts which, when viewed by those under 15 years, require the guidance of a parent or guardian.

The following are permissible -Language: Low level coarse language is acceptable, provided its use is not excessive.

Sex: Discreet verbal and/or visual depictions, references to sexual matters.

Violence: Depictions of violence must be mild in their impact, and/or presented in a stylised or theatrical fashion, or in an historical context.

Other: Discreet informational and/or anti-drug references. Mild supernatural or 'horror' themes may warrant 'PG'. Minimal nudity if in a justifiable context.

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R-rated material on pay TV Guidelines for films and videotapes

M 15+ - Mature (recommended for mature audiences 15 years and over)

Material which is considered likely to disturb, harm or offend those under 15 years to the extent that it is recommended for viewing by those 15 years and over will be classified 'M'. Most adult themes may be dealt with, though the degree of explicitness and intensity of treatment will be an important factor.

Language: Crude language may be used, but not if overly frequent or impactful.

Sex: Sexual intercourse or other sexual activity may be

discreetly implied.

Violence: Realistic violence of low intensity may be depicted if contextually justified.

Other: Drug use may be depicted, but not in an advocatory manner. Supernatural and 'horror' special effects may be depicted, but not if graphic or impactful.

MA 15+ - Mature Accompanied (restrictions apply to persons under the age of 15 years)*

Material which contains coarse language or depictions of sex or violence or any combination of elements likely to disturb, harm or offend those under 15 years to the extent that it should be restricted to those 15 years and over will be classified 'MA'.

Language: Crude language may be used, but not when it is excessive, unduly assaultative, or sexually explicit.

Sex: Sexual intercourse or other sexual activity may be

discreetly implied or simulated.

Violence: Realistic violence of medium intensity may be depicted, but violent depictions with a high degree of realism or impact are acceptable only if contextually justified.

Other: Drug use may be depicted, but not in an advocatory manner. Supernatural and 'horror' special effects usually warrant an 'MA' classification, but not if overly graphic or impactful.

* Children under 15 years will not be admitted to cinemas unless accompanied by a parent or guardian; video material not permitted to be sold/hired to persons under 15 years.

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R 18+ - Restricted (restricted to adults 18 years and over)

Material considered likely to be harmful to those under 18 years and/or possibly offensive to some sections of the adult community warrants an Έ' classification.

Language: There are virtually no restrictions on language in Έ' films.

Sex: Sexual intercourse or other sexual activity may be

realistically implied or simulated.

Violence: Highly realistic and explicit depictions of violence may be shown, but not if unduly detailed, relished or cruel. Depictions of sexual violence are acceptable only to the extent that they are necessary to the narrative and not

exploitative.

Other: Drug abuse may be depicted, but not in an advocatory manner. Extreme 'horror' special effects usually warrant an Έ'.

X 18+ - Contains sexually explicit material (restricted to adults 18 years and over)

The classification and guidelines for video are the same as those for cinema except that for video there is an extra classification, 'X1 , which is defined as follows:

No depiction of sexual violence, coercion or non-consent of any kind is permitted in this classification. Material which can be accommodated in this classification includes explicit depictions of sexual acts between consenting adults and mild non-violent fetishes.

Refused Classification

Any film or video which includes the following will be refused classification:

(a) depictions of child sexual abuse, bestiality, sexual acts accompanied by offensive fetishes, or exploitative incest fantasies:

(b) unduly detailed and/or relished acts of extreme violence or cruelty; explicit or unjustifiable depictions of sexual violence against non-consenting persons;

(c) detailed instruction or encouragement in:

(i) matters of crime or violence (ii) the abuse of proscribed drugs.

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APPENDIX 7

BACKGROUND BRIEFING NOTE FROM TELECOM AUSTRALIA

PARENTAL CONTROL PROVISIONS FOR PAY TV

INTRODUCTION

In response to the enquiry by the Senate Committee on Community Standards Relevant to the Supply of Services Utilising Electronic Technologies about international practices regarding blocking specific program types to minors once Pay TV services are introduced into homes, the following is submitted by Telecom Australia. It represents an adaptation of advice received from Scientific-Atlanta, a company whose Set Top Unit product we are already using in our

Residential Video Pilot at Centennial Park, Sydney.

SCOPE

The matter can be addressed according to the following main delivery categories:

(a) Satellite (b) MMDS (microwave) and Cable

Cable includes fibre and coaxial delivery, where Set Top units (STUs) are provided in homes. This response is not necessarily considered specific to Scient'fic-AtJanta products, but more or less reflects industry trends worldwide.

SATELLITE DELIVERY

In the mid 1980's the conditional access systems of addressable satellite direct-to-home (DTK) STUs were enhanced to include parental control. With this facility, an imbedded rating code is also transmitted along with programs. There are four or more program rating levels available and codes can be defined on either a channel or program basis.

Within any household, parents respond to a series of on-screen prompts, allowing them to set the maximum program rating level available from their STU. This is controlled by the use of a unique 4 or more digit PIN number, which can be reprogrammed by the parent

Under normal viewing conditions the household does not receive any programs rated above the limit set viz. PG, M, R, X etc. After the children have gone to bed, parents can temporarily override the limit by use of the PIN, to expand their evening viewing options.

Where material is being blocked, the video is replaced by a polite graphic or text message and the video is not actually descrambled inside the STU. This prevents adolescents from physically tampering to extract programs when their parents/guardians are absent

The Scientific-Atlanta B-MAC technology that is the current Australian standard for remote area direct-to-home TV includes parental control and PIN facilities. The use of these could be demonstrated to the government by ABC, SBS, Scientific-Atlanta, or other Australian B-MAC

users.

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MMDS AND CABLE DEUVERY

Current generation (1994) MMDS and Cable STDs also have the capability of allowing parents to control the viewing of certain TV channels. The feature which enables this is often referred to as Parental Control. The Parental Control feature allows parents to designate secret passwords to protect access to specific channels. This is performed via a menu routine on an on-screen display. When the children (or anybody) attempts ta tune the STD ta a password protected channel, a solid coloured screen arises with the text "Parentally Controlled Channel please enter the password — ". The user must then type in the 5 digit secret password, thus enabling tlie STU ta tune to that channel.

Note that the above feature allows Parental Control on a per-channel basis. This is useful for protecting sexually explicit programming on so-called "adult" channels. However, in the case of violent programming it is often the case that violence is dispersed on a per-program, not per- channel basis.

A solution in this latter scenario is to use the next generation (1995) STUs. These new units feature an Electronic Program Guide facility which allows an external information provider to transmit per-program information to the Cable TV headend. The headend computer equipment then downloads this per-program data to each STU via a certain data transmission technique using the cable itself as the data line. The data which is received in the STU includes program title, start time, stop time, channel number, descriptive text and ratings information. (This assumes that there is a standardised ratings scheme which all programmers understand and which independent ratings agencies assign to programs.) Having loaded this data the STU can then be programmed to intercept access to any program with a rating of PG, Μ, R, X etc. The user is forced to type a valid password into the remote control to enable the STU to tune to that program.

SMARTCARDS

Over the last few years there has been experimentation to place the PIN number and Parental Control facility in a smart card kept by the parent This notionally allows adults to set their own viewing rating limits even when at someone else's house. The concept has merit but the following weakness of placing Parental Control into smart cards have come to light

1) It requires all STUs to have inbuilt smart card readers and all home owners to be issues with smart cards. (This is a very significant network cost burden that may make the whole network non-viable unless there is some other network or feature-driven reason why all homes need such readers.)

2) Allowing cards to control program access other than one single "tied" box raises significant risks in regards to overall network and program security, hence Pay TV revenue generation capability.

3) In the same way children wishing to enter licensed clubs manage to borrow r "a friend of a friends’ drivers licence to get into licensed clubs, children will find x "borrow" adults smart cards, even their own parents cards without consent Hen . me restricting of "adult" material from minors fails.

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4) In households with more than one adult multiple cards will be needed - hence more cost Since it is not practical to lock the card away each night cards would in general be retained in adults wallets.

CONCLUSION

The current PIN number approach requires no incremental cost in the STUs currently available, and gives total control to the responsible person in a household. There is no possibility of an irresponsible young adult 'friend of a friend* giving access to minors in other people's houses.

That person could show minors sexual or violent material in their own home, but of course this could happen now if the person were to rent video material of that type.

Parents can decide of what age their children, in their own home, can see which level of program, and at what age they are to be told of the set-top PIN number.

Even if the children find out the PIN number it can be nevertheless re-set by the parent simply by calling the Pay TV operator. After proving customer identity, the operator can then reset the number through the Headend and the distribution network data link.

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PARENTAL CONTROL

Parental control allows restriction of viewing of any channel. This feature can prevent children from viewing certain channels. This paper describes how the parental control function operates on the Scientific Atlanta Set Top Unit which is used in Telecom's Centennial Park Residential Video Pilot.

In Telecom's Pay TV service, there will be a system of customer authentication underpinning the Parental Control arrangements described in this paper. Authentication will require a customer to present a code when ordering new channels or finding out a forgotten Personal Identification Number (PIN).

1. How to place channels under parental control.

Please note, when reference is made to pressing certain buttons, this can be done either on the Set-Top-Unit or on a Remote Control.

This screen will appear when pressing [MENU],

Screen 1

MESSAGES PAY-PER-VIEW FAVOURITE CHANNELS PROGRAMME TIMER PARENTAL CONTROL SET-TOP-UNIT

PUT·» ON YOUR CHOICE THEN PRESS [SELECT]. PRESS [MENU] TO EXIT

When selecting [PARENTAL CONTROL], the following screen will appear:

Screen 2

PARENTAL CONTROL

VIEW PARENTAL CHANNELS CHANGE PARENTALLY CONTROLLED CHANNELS

PUT·» ON YOUR CHOICE THEN PRESS [SELECT].

PRESS [MENU] TO EXIT

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To select channels to be under parental control, press [CHANGE PARENTALLY CONTROLLED CHANNELS], The following screen will appear:

Screen 3

ENTER YOUR PIN NUMBER

When the correct numeric PIN numbers have been entered, the following screen will appear:

Screen 4

PARENTALLY CONTROLLED:

SEE MORE CHANNELS ADD A CHANNEL REMOVE A CHANNEL

PUT-» ON YOUR CHOICE THEN PRESS [SELECT].

PRESS [MENU] TO EXIT.

When [ADD A CHANNEL] is selected, the screen will appear as follows:

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Screen 5

PARENTALLY CONTROLLED:

42 - .......................

SEE MORE CHANNELS ADD A CHANNEL REMOVE A CHANNEL

PUT·* ON YOUR CHOICE THEN PRESS [SELECT]. PRESS [MENU] TO EXIT.

Having entered the channels to be parentally controlled, it will be necessary to do one of the following to activate the parental control:

a) Return to Screen 1, Select PARENTAL CONTROL. When Screen 2 appears, select [VIEW PARENTAL CHANNELS]. When this is selected, Screen 3 will appear. Enter an incorrect PIN number. This deauthorises viewing of the parentally controlled channels.

b) Switch off the Set-Top Unit When it is switched on again, the restricted channels cannot be accessed without first entering the PIN number.

The parental control channels are stored in memory until changed and the restricted channels will be deauthorised each time the Set-Top Unit is switched on.

2. What happens when tuning to a channel under parental control?

When tuning to the parentally controlled channel(s), channel 42 in the above example, the following will appear on the screen:

Screen 6

CHANNEL 42 RAUNCHY FLICKS IS PARENTALLY CONTROLLED

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3. How to view a parentally controlled channel

Go to Screen 2 to via the [MENU], Select [VIEW PARENTAL CHANNELS], Screen 3 will appear. Enter PIN number.

4. How to prevent unauthorised viewing of parentally controlled channels after finishing viewing a parentally controlled channel.

Got to Screen 2 Via the [MENU], Select [VIEW PARENTAL CHANNELS. Screen 3 will appear. Enter a wrong PIN number or alternatively, switch the STU off and then on.

5. What happens if the TV receiver is switched off with the restricted channel(s) in an authorised mode.

If the TV set is switched off without switching off the Set-Top-Unit, the restricted channels will remain accessible. It is therefore necessary for parents to always switch off the Set-Top-Unit when switching off the TV set, or

alternatively enter an incorrect PIN number.

6. What can children do to break the code?

They can try different combinations, but the probability of success in breaking the code is limited with a 5 digit numerical PIN.

7. What if the parent forgets the PIN.

By contacting the Subscription Management Centre, customers can find out their PIN. Telecom will require identification via a code, to ensure authentication of the customer. Where the code cannot be presented, the customer would have to apply for another code in writing.

8. What if a child rings the Subscription Management Centre, trying to order a channel that has not been subscribed for.

. Subscription for additional channels will require the code to be presented over the telephone.

9. Can a child get access to unauthorised programming by connecting the TV receiver directly into the cable.

To prevent this happening, Telecom intends to scramble all channels with the exception of the free-to-air channels and a Community Channel which Telecom intends to sponsor by giving free access to one channel per area.

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THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

PARLIAMENTARY PAPER No. 9 . of 1995 ORDERED TO BE PRINTED

ISSN 0727-418