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New Zealanders want one classification system for movies, TV shows and games

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 [1] 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.

The results

  • 83% of New Zealanders think classifications should be the same for entertainment content like a movie, TV show or video game, regardless of where/how you access it (eg in a cinema, on DVD/Blu-ray, on broadcast television, or online streaming services)
  • Of this number, 66% would prefer the classifications assigned under the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act to be used for movies, TV shows and video games, regardless of where/how you access them

Should classifications be the same across different platforms?

Chart showing how often people are guided by classification labels
Question: Do you think that classifications should be the same for entertainment content like movies, TV shows and video games, regardless of where/how you access it (eg. in a cinema, on DVD/Blu-ray, on broadcast television, or online streaming services)?

Four out of five New Zealanders support a single classification system

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).

12% of New Zealanders don't think there should be a single classification system

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.

5% think New Zealand doesn't need a classification system

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.

Which classification system do New Zealanders prefer?

research-preferred-classification-system.jpg

Question (for those who would prefer a single classification system): If New Zealand used the same classifications for entertainment content like movies, TV shows and video games, regardless of where/how it is accessed, which classifications would you prefer? [2]

A majority of New Zealanders would prefer the classifications currently assigned by the Classification Office

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.

Classification labels assigned by the Classification Office

These classifications are assigned by the Classification Office, and are preferred by the majority of New Zealanders

A minority preferred the Broadcasting Standards classifications

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.

Classification labels assigned by broadcasters

These classifications are assigned under the Broadcasting Act, and are preferred by 12% of New Zealanders

Some people would prefer an alternative system

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.

This research show strong public support for the wider use of our classifications

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.

Let us know what you think

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 info@classificationoffice.govt.nz.

Footnotes

  1. Results are from the January 2016 UMR Online Omnibus survey. This is a nationally representative survey of 1000 New Zealanders 18 years of age and over from UMR's SayIT panel (the margin for error for a 50% figure at the 95% confidence level being ± 3.1%). The survey was conducted from 29th January to 14th February 2016. All numbers are shown rounded to zero decimal places. This means that the specified totals are not always exactly equal to the sum of the specified sub-totals.
  2. To ensure participants were clear about what they were choosing, they were shown images of classification symbols used by the Classification Office and by the Broadcasting Standards system, along with information about where these classifications are usually displayed.