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Media release: Chief Censor releases comprehensive survey of media use in New Zealand

01 July 2016

Research shows that the classifications currently used for films, videos, and other publications are trusted, reliable, and preferred by New Zealanders for a platform neutral classification system of the future.

The Office of Film and Literature Classification commissioned Colmar Brunton to carry out a survey of the public's views about, and understanding of, the classification system — and about New Zealanders' changing media use habits.

It found that New Zealanders continue to have a high level of trust in official classifications for entertainment content like movies, shows and video games — despite a rapidly changing entertainment media environment.

  • 92% think classifications are important when choosing entertainment media for children and teens
  • 69% think the Classification Office is doing a 'good' or 'excellent' job
  • 73% think classifications are 'about right' — not too strict or too lenient

The survey also revealed differences in how movies, television shows and games are accessed across a variety of platforms - including broadcast television, illegal file-sharing websites, paid streaming services and various other platforms.

The survey shows that around half (47%) of New Zealanders now watch television shows or movies using an online video on demand service at least once a week. Compare this to the number weekly watching DVD/Blu-ray (17%) and the shift to online use is clear — with younger people leading the way.

Many responsible online providers — including Netflix, Google, Apple, Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft — currently use official classifications when supplying movies, television shows or games to New Zealanders.

An earlier 2016 research study with UMR showed that 83% of New Zealanders think classifications should be the same for movies, television shows or games, regardless of where/how they are accessed (eg in a cinema, on DVD/Blu-ray, on broadcast television, or online streaming services). Of this number, 66% would prefer the distinctive colour-coded classifications currently assigned by the Classification Office.

New Zealand's Chief Censor, Dr Andrew Jack, says this isn't surprising considering New Zealanders' high level of support for the classification system.

This is another indication that New Zealanders appreciate the guidance and protection provided by official classifications - made in New Zealand by an organisation they trust.

Great care is put into classification decisions to ensure a level of consistency while remaining in line with public opinion, and so it is great to see that the majority of New Zealanders believe the classification system is applied appropriately.

The consistent results from our research demonstrate the relevance and importance of traditional, trusted classifications in the online space.

Hopefully the voices of the New Zealand public are heard - and in five years we can look back at this time of transition as a necessary step on the way to a comprehensive, platform neutral classification system.

Chief Censor Dr Andrew Jack

The research shows that classifications continue to provide guidance, protection, and peace of mind for New Zealand families, and the findings are backed up by recent interviews conducted by the Classification Office:

I don't let my kids watch anything that hasn't been rated. I trust the movie labels. I just wish they were on everything, like TV and On Demand etc. I liken it to supermarket shopping… if it gets the Heart Foundation tick, then I feel better. The red labels, in particular, are a bit like that. I don't have time to screen everything first, so it's good to know the movies and video games my kids want to watch must go through a process before they are released in NZ.

Mum of two teenagers, Kapiti

Read a summary of Colmar Brunton's research and download the full report on our website: Changing media use and public perceptions of the classification system

Read a summary of UMR's research into standardised classifications: New Zealanders want one classification system for movies, TV shows and games

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