Posted on 06 August 2020 by the Information Unit
Changes are coming to give New Zealanders better information on what to expect when they watch films and shows on commercial video on-demand (streaming) platforms.
Until now streaming platforms have not been subject to the same local rules for displaying consumer information as cinemas and DVDs. This means when you browse films and shows on these platforms, you might see unfamiliar age ratings (e.g. “7+” instead of “PG”) and limited content warnings – or none at all.
This is set to change with the Film, Videos, and Publications Classification (Commercial Video On-Demand) Amendment Act. The Act has just received Royal Assent, bringing it into law.
From 2021 (exact dates to be set in the Regulations), streaming platforms like Netflix, Disney and Neon will be required to display New Zealand age ratings and content warnings on all films, shows and other content.
These can be official New Zealand age ratings and content warnings (for previously classified or rated content), or age ratings and content warnings that are generated using a self-rating system that is authorised and audited by the Classification Office.
Consumer information that is consistent and relevant will give New Zealanders the opportunity to decide whether films, shows and other content are appropriate for themselves and their tamariki to view – before they hit play.
We know that entertainment content affects people differently, which is why it’s important that viewers are given a heads-up about any potentially challenging themes and scenes. This is even more important for children, young people and viewers that have experienced trauma, as they can be impacted more by certain content.
We also know that New Zealand audiences are sensitive to issues that are not always highlighted in content warnings in other countries. These include rape, sexual violence, family and partner violence, animal cruelty, suicide and self-harm. Our responsibility as a regulatory body in New Zealand is to ensure that there are clear warnings about content depicting these issues.
The Act allows time for providers to implement systems to self-rate content on their platforms. We’ll be working with them over the coming months to provide support and ensure the systems meet requirements.
You can expect to see clear and consistent New Zealand consumer information on all new content on streaming platforms from sometime next year, with exact dates to be set. Existing content will follow within six months.
A complaints process for New Zealanders to report age ratings and content warnings that may be incorrect will be set in the Regulations.
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