29 February 2016
The Government is currently undertaking a review of content classification in New Zealand, with one potential outcome being that all content could use the same set of content warnings or classifications in the future, regardless of format or medium. Results of recent research by UMR commissioned by the Classification Office indicate there is widespread public support for one classification system for all entertainment content.
The representative survey of 1000 adult New Zealanders  found that a clear majority want the same classifications to apply in cinemas, on DVD/Blu-ray, online and on TV - and most would prefer to see the classifications currently assigned under the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act.
83% would like to see a single classification system used for movies, TV shows and games - regardless of whether they see something in a cinema, at home on DVD, online or on TV. These participants were then asked which classifications they would prefer if there was a single system (see results below).
The majority of people who said the classifications systems should be different gave reasons that indicated they were not so much against the idea of a standardised system as they were against the trouble or cost of the change itself.
Only one in twenty New Zealanders don't think there should be a classification system providing consumer advice and indicating age suitability for entertainment content. A third of this group indicated that viewers or guardians should decide what to watch or play. Participants also said things such as classifications aren't needed as people don't follow them, and that a government agency shouldn't interfere with what people watch/play.
Of the 83% of New Zealanders who support a single classification system for all content, two-thirds (66%) would prefer the classifications currently assigned by the Classification Office. In other words, 55% of the full sample would like to see our classifications used on movies, TV shows and games, regardless of where/how people access them.
Approximately half (53%) of respondents who prefer our classifications said they think they are easy to understand and simple:
The standard can be understood by people. Nobody knows what the TV one means anymore.
People also said they liked age restrictions, that they were already familiar with the system, they liked the colour coding, and they thought the system was more precise and specific:
There is a huge difference between a 13, 16 and 18 year olds and the other classification doesn't allow for that.
They are more easily recognised as they have been around for a long time.
I like the different colours making restricted content obvious at a glance.
These classifications are more specific. The other system makes an assumption that "after 9:30pm" has a universal value.
Of the 83% of New Zealanders who support a single classification system for all content, 14% preferred the classifications currently assigned under the Broadcasting Act. In other words, just 12% of the full sample would like to see Broadcasting Standards classifications applied to all movies, TV shows and games. Three quarters of those who prefer Broadcasting Standards classifications said they find them easy to understand and simple.
Of the 83% of New Zealanders who support a single classification system for all content, 6% thought an alternative classification/rating system would be more useful than the two options described above. Suggestions were mostly varied but usually borrowed from one or both of the current systems, some suggested combination of the two, and others thought there should be more - or fewer - classifications used.
A trusted system of guidance and protection is increasingly important in a time of significant change in media consumption patterns - a change that is likely to accelerate in coming years. These findings reflect widespread support for a single classification system in cinemas, in video stores, on TV and online. Our research shows that the classifications currently used for films, videos, and other publications are trusted, reliable, and the preferred basis for a platform neutral classification system of the future.
We'd love to hear what you think about this research. If you have any feedback you can find us on Facebook and Twitter, or contact us by phone on 0508 236 767, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.