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Chief Censor supports kiwi classifications on streamed content

11 September 2019

New Zealanders will get better and more consistent information to make informed decisions about what they are watching under changes the Government announced today, Chief Censor David Shanks says.

Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin said commercial video on demand content from services like Netflix and and Lightbox would come under the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993. They would be able to self-classify within a New Zealand framework.

“This move will ensure New Zealanders will get quality classifications from services like Netflix.

“Right now New Zealanders have a pretty tough time working out whether the movie they want to watch is suitable for their kids or has a scene that could be hard or even harmful for them to watch,” David Shanks said.

“Currently streaming services are not covered by the same law that cinema movies or DVDs are and that means various providers use information from other countries or create their own.

“Ratings and consumer warnings currently provided by various streaming platforms in NZ, are inconsistent and confusing, and often don’t have advice on topics like suicide and sexual violence - content that New Zealanders have told us they want to be warned about.

“New Zealanders are entitled to the information they need in order to make educated decisions about the media content they, and their families, consume. This should be considered a basic right.

“The Office supports this change to give New Zealanders quality and consistent information. At the same time it’s a low cost option which means kiwis won’t be penalised with delays or reduced service that would likely happen if we were to do all classifications in house.

“We would create the framework that the content is assessed against and do checks to ensure that companies are correctly following it.

“It’s a simple and sensible step to ensure New Zealanders can get the information they need to understand, create and share content in a positive way, while safeguarding our tamariki and rangatahi from harm.

“The Minister also announced the establishment of an appropriate classification complaints and review process. We welcome that, and encourage debate around our decisions.”

You can download an audio file of Chief Censor David Shanks talking about the changes to the law around commercial video on demand here. (.mp3, 2 minutes 23 seconds)