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Overview of changes to New Zealand’s classification system

Around one-third of New Zealanders regularly use commercial video on-demand and streaming platforms to access entertainment, and this is only increasing. Yet until now these platforms have fallen into a gap in New Zealand’s regulatory framework for media content.

Changes are underway to close this gap and provide New Zealanders with clearer, more consistent information for the movies and shows they watch on streaming services.

These changes include:

The Act received Royal Assent on 6 August 2020 and regulations are currently being worked through.

From next year (exact dates yet to be set) the Act will require providers listed in Schedule 2 of the Act to display approved consumer information on their content for New Zealand viewers, including a New Zealand age rating or classification and a content warning for any potential harmful content. 

A flexible, workable solution

The changes in the Act were developed in consultation with industry and aim to provide a practical, low-cost solution that is straight-forward to implement.

Providers will have flexibility in how they implement the changes. They can choose to:

  • Submit content to the Film and Video Labelling Body for rating (with the Classification Office providing any necessary classification decisions). This is the current process available in New Zealand;
  • Use the online self-rating tool developed by the Classification Office; or
  • Develop their own automated self-rating system. Any self-rating systems will be approved and audited annually by the Classification Office to ensure that the system provides ratings and content warnings that fit the expectations of New Zealand consumers.

New Zealanders will get clear and consistent age ratings and content warnings in a recognisable format.

Principles

The Classification Office has worked alongside the Department of Internal Affairs through the development of the policy and Act and was an independent adviser to the Governance and Administration Select Committee in its deliberations on the Bill.

The principles that we are seeking to achieve include:

Clear and consistent

Ratings and classifications for New Zealand viewers, regardless of the platform.

Works for New Zealanders

Clear and accessible consumer information that reflects New Zealanders’ values and concerns.

Simple and cost effective

For industry and government.

Fast, flexible and fair

Adaptable digital solutions for a digital media landscape.

Future focused

Taking into account changes in technology, developments in the sector and the way the public consumes films, and informing the broader media review.

View the Classification Office’s submission on the Bill.