Two concerts in China by rock group Bon Jovi have been cancelled after reports the government discovered they featured images of the Dalai Lama in previous shows.
The American band had been due to play dates in Beijing and Shanghai but the
performances were suddenly called off and ticket sales abruptly halted.
According to sources, the Chinese regime had banned the concerts after discovering a picture of exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, a man reviled by China, had featured in a
video shown at a previous concerts.
Meanwhile they also allegedly found that Bon Jovi's 2009 We Weren't Born To Follow music video features brief images of the 1989 pro-democracy demonstrations around Beijing's Tiananmen Square.
A Chinese film-maker is to sue state censors in a quest to discover how and why his gay-themed documentary was removed from local streaming sites, in a legal case that could have powerful ramifications for film censorship in the country.
Fan Popo says
his documentary Mama Rainbow , which follows six Chinese mothers as they learn to love their gay or lesbian children, disappeared without explanation from video sites such as Youku, Tudou and 56.com in 2014.
The director had uploaded the
documentary to keep it in the public eye after his film completed its short run at US and Asian film festivals in 2012. So he was disappointed when 56.com managers informed him that China's censor SARFT, the State Administration of Radio, Film and
Television, had issued the company with instructions to remove the movie.
SARFT censors later officially denied having any involvement in censorship of Mama Rainbow, so Fan has decided to sue the censor in the Beijing court in an effort to find
out what really happened.
Last week, state-backed newspaper Global Times confirmed the case would be heard -- a victory in itself in China's government-controlled courts.
Beijing-based filmmaker Fan Popo, whose gay rights documentary was removed from Chinese video streaming websites, has claimed victory in a lawsuit over government censorship despite the courts ruling that regulators were not to blame.
verdict released last week, Beijing's No. 1 Intermediate People's Court found censors had not ordered his documentary Mama Rainbow to be taken down from prominent streaming websites Youku, Tudou and 56.com.
Prior to filing the lawsuit, Fan
had been told by two of the major streaming platforms that they had received a document from SAPPRFT ordering the removal of the film. He filed a request in February for information from the regulator, but they denied ever releasing such a document. Fan
told the Wall Street Journal:
I hope that my case can serve as catalyst to inspire more people to stand up against SAPPRFT for content we care about.
The verdict still poses the question as to who,
if anyone, ordered his film to be taken offline. Fan said:
I still think the verdict is to my advantage, because now knowing the agency did not release any document, I can require the video sites to put my film back.
Vietnam has tabled a draft bill to introduce age ratings for movies. The idea has been knocking round government circles since 2008 but now looks set to be implemented soon.
There would be four age ratings for movies screened in the country:
all ages (P),
13+ years of age (C13),
16+ years of age (C16), and
adults only (C18)
The classification of the movies permitted to be shown at local theaters is based on theme, content and the level of many elements like violence, nudity, sex, drug use, language, and horror.
At the highest level, the 'C18 label would be used
for films about political, social, psychological, and criminal issues that are only suitable for the cognitive and psychological awareness of viewers aged 18 or older.
This level of censorship allows the films to contain full nudity but they would
not be permitted to describe sensitive parts in detail. Nudity and sexual violence in the C18 films must be relevant to their content and should not be prolonged or repeated too much, according to the draft circular.
In addition, the C18 movies
can show scenes of violence and bloodshed but they must match the context. Vulgar language, swear words or slang that can be considered offensive can also appear in the films. However, the C18 films would not include scenes of unnatural sex acts,
like those with children and in incestuous relationships, or images encouraging the use of drugs and other addictive substances.
Ngo Phuong Lan, head of the Vietnam Cinema Department, said the new film classification was modelled after that of
The provisional legislation is expected to take effect early next year.
Update: Filmmakers to be allowed just 15 seconds of free expression per movie
Vietnam's film censors have proposed a five second rule for movie censorship, sex scenes are to be restricted to just five seconds of onscreen sexual passion, with no more than three such scenes per film.
Chief censor Ngo Phuong Lan
announced the proposal at a meeting in Hanoi. The measures are in line with a long tradition of oppressive censorship. Earlier this year, Vietnamese censors cut the sex scenes from Fifty Shades of Grey , reducing the overall running time of the film by
The draft rule has also been criticized for only mentioning female nudity in its language, leaving observers wondering whether male nudity would be fully permitted, or hadn't even been considered due to sexism.
No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka is a 2013 UK documentary by Callum Macrae. Starring Rufus Sewell, Bashana Abeywardene and Vany Viji.
No Fire Zone: In the Killing Fields of Sri Lanka is an
investigative documentary about the final weeks of the Sri Lankan Civil War.
Back in July 2013, Sri Lanka was smarting from criticisms in the documentary D Censorship was the response, and when Sri Lanka got wind of a private
screening to be held in Malaysia, the Malaysian government was persuaded to ensure that the screening was banned.
The film was screened and programme coordinator, Lena Rasathi A. Hendry took the rap. However she challenged the Malaysian censorship
in the country's constitutional court.
The Federal Court has just ruled on the case, and found that the political censorship enacted under the Film Censorship Act 2002 did not contravene constitutional protections for freedom of speech.
provision under the Film Censorship Act 2002 was used in the prosecution of Hendry which makes it an offence for a person to screen a film prior to approval by the Film Censorship Board.
Justice Zulkefli ruled that the court's answer to the
question of law posed was in the negative and that there was no merit in her application. The legal question was whether Section 6 (1)(b) of the Film Censorship Act 2002 read together with Section 6 (2)(a) of the same Act violated Article 10 (right to
freedom of speech and expression) and Article 8 (1) of the Federal Constitution (equality before the law and entitle to equal protection of the law) and therefore should be struck down and void for unconstitutionality.
He also remitted the matter
back to the High Court and gave a directive for the case to proceed for trial at the Magistrate's Court.
So Lena is now facing a charge at the Magistrate's Court in Kuala Lumpur for allegedly screening a documentary entitled No Fire Zone: The
Killing Fields of Sri Lanka that had not been approved by the Film Censorship Board.
She was accused of committing the offence at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Chamber of Commerce Hall at Jalan Maharajalela in Kuala Lumpur at 9pm on
July 3, 2013.
New Zealand moralist campaign group, Family First, is calling for the lads' mag Zoo Weekly to be banned from supermarket shelves.
A petition that started in Australia, calling for supermarkets to stop stocking men's magazine Zoo, was picked up
in New Zealand by Family First. The campaign group is calling for Countdown to follow the Australian example and ban men's magazine Zoo from its shelves.
But a spokesman for Countdown New Zealand said it has no plans to remove the
publication from its shelves, and that it takes responsible steps when displaying the magazine. And many members of the public have agreed, saying they don't find the magazine offensive.
The petition to drop Zoo from Woolworths, which owns
Countdown stores in New Zealand has about 40,000 people calling for the store's chief executives to bin Zoo magazine immediately .
Laura Pintur, who started the campaign, spouted:
When I heard Zoo was
regularly promoting rape culture and sexism with phrases like 'you want to pick the loosest/skankiest one of the lot and fetch her a drink...separate her from the flock'. I couldn't stand by and watch it promoted to kids at supermarkets.
Family First National director Bob McCoskrie whinged that the magazine did not belong on supermarket shelves:
I think if I showed you it, you see it promotes a rape culture, it objectifies women, teaches boys to be
predatory, it's the continued sexualisation of women. We want to encourage families to politely speak to managers and ask if it's appropriate to make a profit out of these messages.
But a Countdown spokesperson said it was just one of
more than 1000 stockists selling the magazine around the country. The supermarket sells less than a quarter of Zoo magazines in New Zealand, and they were appropriately positioned in store, he said.
New Zealand's book censorship review board has arisen from the dead and slapped an interim ban on a book for the first time since the current law was passed 22 years ago.
The president of the Film and Literature Board of Review, Don Mathieson has
issued the Interim Restriction Order banning the sale or distribution of Auckland author Ted Dawe's award-winning novel for teenagers Into the River until the full board can consider whether the book should be restricted.
The moralist campaigner,
Family First director Bob McCoskrie, who requested the review, said the interim order - the first affecting a book under the Films, Videos and Publications Classification Act 1993 - showed people could still use the censorship system. He spouted:
Hopefully we have set a precedent and people start bringing other books to the fore that they are concerned about.
Where a book is targeted at teenagers it needed to be language and theme
The order is the latest twist in an extraordinary saga for Into the River , which won the top prize in the 2013 Children's Book Awards. The censor's office first classified it as unrestricted with a note about explicit
sex, drugs and offensive language. The review board later imposed an R14 restriction, but this was overturned last month when deputy chief censor Nic McCully ruled that the book should be unrestricted.
Pro-censorship Mathieson, who argued a
minority case for an R18 restriction in 2013, said in the new interim order it was debatable, and a matter of independent public interest, whether the chief censor acted lawfully in overturning the board's decision.
It is now illegal to
supply the book to anyone until the full board made a final decision.
The head of the Christian morality campaign, Family First, said he never demanded the book Into the River be banned. Bob McCoskrie told Radio NZ Family First had wanted censors to reinstate the book's R14 rating, which had been removed
last month, and require that the book carry a warning sticker. McCoskrie spouted:
We're not calling for it to be banned and we never have. We'd just like an age restriction in the same way that a movie has an R16 or
R18. If you want to blame anyone for the book being banned, blame the censor's office because they went against due process.
It has sexually explicit material and it's a book that's got the c-word nine times, the f-word 17 times
and s-h-i-t 16 times.
Recently, judges at Delhi High Court found that under the Cable Network Regulation Act, any movie with U/A (PG) or A (18) certification, which were not suitable for unrestricted exhibition, cannot be shown on television.
insiders fear that not allowing U/A films from being screened on television will mean a loss of 40% revenue for producers. Not just local producers and regional channels, even those screening foreign movies will face a huge issue if such a norm is
put into effect.
Actress Rituparna Sengupta termed this as a detrimental step. It'll harm both actors and producers. Producer Srikant Mohta described this as the last nail on the industry's coffin . Describing this as an
attack on freedom of expression, director Srijit Mukherji said this will mean asking film-makers to make movies for kids. Producer Rana Sarkar apprehended that such a move would result in a massacre . This is death of creativity, Sarkar
The recent development happened when on August 21, the Delhi High Court stayed the television premier of Indra Kumar's Grand Masti after a petition was filed by MediaWatch-India, a moralist group campaigning for 'decency' and
accountability in the media. The adult Hindi film had earlier been re-certified by Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) after 33 minutes of cuts But the court stay order had said that the film was not certified for unrestricted public exhibition
and cannot be televised under the Cable Network Regulation Act. In an interim order, the court had rejected the argument that parents could change the channel since a warning that it was not suitable for minors is shown before such a movie starts. The
bench had observed that a child's TV viewing may not always be under parental supervision.
Manish Desai, CEO of India's films censors said:
The matter is still being examined, especially in the light of the
petition on 'Grand Masti' which was converted from 'A' to 'U/A' with deletions.
A notice has been issued to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and CBFC seeking their replies by September 16 on a plea seeking quashing of the
U/A certification given to the movie.
China has approved for cinema release the first film with gay principal characters. Film director Wanga nnounced on Weibo, a Chinese version of Twitter, that censors had given Seek McCartney permission for a cinema release. He said:
This is a small step for the film department, and a big step for the members of the film industry.
The film, a Chinese-French co-production, centres on a secret relationship between two men, one Chinese and one
Fan Popo, an LGBT filmmaker and rights activist was note entirely convinced that this is a policy change. He told AFP:
The fact that this film can be released in theatres doesn't mean gay films in the
future will be able to released in China. China's system for evaluating films is still very unstable, because the rules are very unclear. It depends heavily on the individual censor's whims.
New Zealand's Advertising Standards Authority has released its decision about a omplaint against fast-food chain Hell Pizza with its advertisement for the Flaming Dragon pizza. The ad stated in part:
dragon and receive...a certificate of mutherf**king awesomeness and Warning! It's even hotter and we're setting this b*%#@ on fire!
The complainants said they were offended by the language used in the colourful advertisement, which
would be attractive to children:
I know I am sensitive about foul language compared to some folk, but surely this is going a bit far - this is a colourful flyer that I'm sure would be picked up by children in the
household . I just didn't expect such content in a pizza advert.
I do realise that Hell do this sort of stuff to get a reaction - so they win either way don't they?
A Hell Pizza spokesperson said the pizza was
strictly R18 as it contains the world's hottest chillies and as such the advertising is aimed at an adult audience .
The ASA ruled the advertisement breached social responsibility, decency and offensiveness in the Code of Ethics. The
censor added that the flyer was not saved by the use of the symbols and asterisks in place of the letters in the expletives as they were still recognisable.
Two journalists, including an Australian editor, were found not guilty of criminal defamation by a Thai court on Tuesday, over a report implicating the kingdom's navy in human trafficking. Thankfully the story became an international issue probably
leaving Thailand with little option but to acquit.
They were also acquitted of another charge of breaching the Computer Crimes Act in a high-profile trial that had sparked widespread condemnation from human rights groups and the United Nations.
Alan Morison and Chutima Sidasathian of the Phuketwan news website, were prosecuted over a July 2013 article quoting a Reuters news agency investigation which said some Thai navy members were involved in trafficking Rohingya Muslims fleeing Burma.
Phuketwan had only presented Reuters' information that had already been published on their website.
The verdict comes after the region's grim people-smuggling trade was dramatically laid bare this year when migrants were abandoned at sea and in
jungle death camps by traffickers following a Thai crackdown , a crisis that eventually forced Southeast Asian governments to respond. A crackdown in May led to the unravelling of vast people-smuggling networks and in July Thai prosecutors announced 72
people had been indicted, including local officials and a senior army general.
The navy has 30 days to appeal against the verdict.
A non-binding video game ratings system has been proposed by the Thai Ministry of Culture. Six age-based ratings for games have been mooted by the Ministry of Culture that would be placed on all games released in Thailand but would not be legally
binding on retailers to enforce. Pradith Posew of the Film and Video Censors Board said:
There won't be any legal effect in banning kids from playing games. It's merely a guidance for guardians to take care of their kids'
video game playing, based on the appropriateness to their age.
He said it was also intended to help internet and gaming cafes to advise kids who play games at their shops.
In addition to a general audience category, the six ratings would include recommendations for minimum ages of 3, 6, 13, 15 and 18.
The ratings system has been sent to the military government for final approval, Pradith said.
On several recent occasions video games have been banned in Thailand. In 2008, the Ministry of Culture banned sales of Grand Theft Auto IV , after a 17-year-old student stabbed a taxi driver dead and blamed the game for his actions.
In August 2014, three months after the military seized power from an elected government, Thai authorities also banned sales of Tropico 5 , which allows players to assume the role of a dictator running a fictitious tropical island nation.
The Film and Video Censors Board claimed the game could possibly affect the kingdom's political situation. The game creator hit back at Thailand this past June by launching a new Espionage mission tasking players with crippling the Thai tourism
A young person's book that has been restricted to people aged 14 and over for two years has been cleared for unrestricted release after an unusual appeal by librarians.
Deputy chief censor Nic McCully ruled the R14 restriction on Into The
River, byTed Dawe, was an arbitrary and unfair breach of the right to freedom of expression.
But Bob McCoskrie, director of the morality campaign group Family First director, who originally complained about the book to the Film and Literature
Board of Review, has appealed to the board again, claiming it is laced with detailed descriptions of sex acts, coarse language and scenes of drug-taking .
Dawe explained that he wrote the book for teenage boys who don't read books, who
come from working-class and possibly Maori backgrounds and who don't have books that speak to them. It's told in quite a confronting language and I don't mince words in terms of what kids do.
Dawe praised librarians at Auckland City Libraries
who applied for the R14 restriction to be reconsidered. He said:
Librarians - they really are the warriors for books I had not given up hope, but I didn't really believe they would succeed.
Libraries collections manager Louise LaHatte said:
The decision of the Board of Review was based on the fact that it dealt with bullying and racism, and we considered that children should be able to read about topics
like that because it will help them understand and make sense of their own experiences.
The chronology of the book censorship is as follows:
June: Into The River wins top prize in NZ Post Children's Book Awards.
July: Internal Affairs Department submits it to the censor after complaints from the public.
September: Censor classifies it M (unrestricted) with a
descriptive note contains sex scenes, offensive language and drug use .
December: Review Board partially upholds Family First appeal and imposes R14 restriction.
March: Auckland Libraries ask the censor to reconsider the classification.
August 14: Censor reclassifies the book unrestricted with no descriptive note.
August 18: Family First appeals to Review Board again.
Two military courts in Thailand have sentenced a man to 30 years in prison and a woman to 28 years for supposedly insulting the monarchy.
The sentences are the harshest ever given under Thailand's lese majeste law, which nominally prevents criticism
of the king, Bhumibol Adulyadej, but is widely cast such that criticism of the political system could be construed as an insult to the monarchy.
The convictions relate to articles posted on Facebook. Tour operator Pongsak Sriboonpeng was tried in
secret at a court in Bangkok. The judge sentenced him to ten years for each of the six posts he made about the monarch on social media. But the arbitrarily doubled up 60-year term was halved after he pleaded guilty.
In a separate case, a
29-year-old hotel worker and mother of two was sentenced to 56 years by a court in the northern city of Chiang Mai. Her sentence was also halved after a guilty plea.
Earlier in the week, a man with a history of mental illness was given five years
in jail for tearing a portrait of the king.
Jonathan Head, BBC south east Asia correspondent, Bangkok explained that ten years ago, open criticism of the monarchy was almost unknown. But the political polarisation of Thai society since a military
coup nine years ago, which was backed by the palace, has prompted some Thais to challenge the official veneration of the king, especially on social media.
China has ordered 120 songs to be pulled from the Internet, including tracks titled Don't Want to Go to School and All Must Die because they supposedly promoted sex, violence or incited law-breaking , censor said.
No individual or
organisation is allowed to provide the songs, which trumpeted obscenity, violence, crime or harmed social morality , the Ministry of Culture said in a statement.
Most of the blacklisted tunes were by singers or bands unknown in the west but
had striking titles, including No Money No Friend , Suicide Diary , Little Girl's First Time, I Want To Make Love, and This Fucking Society. However a few of the songs on the list are relatively mainstream, like rapper MC
Hotdog's Ode to Taiwanese women .
Anyone who does not comply with the censorship will be punished severely according to the law , the statement said.
New Zealand has imposed some of the world's strictest blasphemy laws by stealth, a humanist group says.
The new Harmful Digital Communications Act could have the effect of landing a person in jail for two years for committing blasphemy, the New
Zealand Humanist Society president Mark Honeychurch:
This legislation not only flies in the face of human rights, but the introduction of yet another law that gives special privileges to religions is unfair, unpopular
and unrepresentative of our society, where over 40 per cent of New Zealanders identify as not religious, making this our country's largest single belief group.
The society said the act stated digital communications should not
denigrate an individual by reason of his or her colour, race, ethnic or national origins, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or disability .
Honeychurch said the law would effectively impose some of the world's strictest penalties -
including fines of up to $50,000 - on people found guilty of blaspheming, or insulting religion. He added:
We want to increase social cohesion and understanding, and by awarding privileges and protecting groups from
critique we are closing the door on free speech, free inquiry and public debate. New Zealand has to abolish its blasphemy laws before they are used to censor, suppress, and silence public debate
Last month, lawyers cited in The Law
Report said another possible unintended consequence of the law would be the establishment of a new legal avenue for recipients of defamatory digital content.
Justice Minister Amy Adams defended the censorship law claiming it would take a
lot for someone to be charged under the act:
Not only must the perpetrator be responsible for posting the communication, they must intend to harm another person and that harm must actually occur. The offence is
targeted at the very worst online behaviours, and will not censor, suppress or silence public debate.
China is planning to set up censorship offices in major internet companies and for websites so authorities can move more quickly against internet content that it does not like, the ministry of public security said in a statement. The deputy minister,
Chen Zhimin, told a conference:
Police should take a leading role in online security and work closely with internet regulators. We will set up network security offices inside important website and internet firms, so
that we can catch criminal behaviour online at the earliest possible point.
The government published a draft cybersecurity law last month consolidating its control over data, with significant potential consequences for internet
companies and multinational firms doing business in the country. The law will strengthen user privacy protection from hackers and data resellers but elevates the government's powers to obtain records on, and block dissemination of, private information
Chinese internet users wanting to vent frustration at their government's repression are using a coded language to dodge censorship filters.
According to an unofficial lexicon of online political slang, there are at least 25 phrases in China
secretly loaded with taboo meaning. For example, saying that someone is checking the water meter means that police are knocking at the door. The term playing hide-and-seek is used to discuss dying in police custody, whilst many Chinese
bloggers refer to their own country as West Korea alluding to its authoritarian neighbour, North Korea.
According to Perry Link and Xiao Qiang, the authors of Decoding the Chinese internet: A glossary of political slang, the terms are rife
among the 198 million users of Weibo, China's version of Twitter.
North Korea has ordered house-to-house searches to confiscate and burn banned music CDs.
The country's crazed leader Kim Jong-un has also ordered music censorship to be extended, banning not only foreign songs but local tunes too, sources inside North
The Korean Workers' Party Propaganda and Agitation Department has begun circulating a new and expanded list of banned songs.
The soundtrack of a North Korean-produced movie, Im Kkeok Jeong , about a Robin Hood-like figure
who lived in the 16th century, is listed, including titles such as Take Action Blood Brothers and To Get Revenge.
Sources report that the confiscations of CDs and tapes is stirring discontent and has led to fights between residents
and propaganda authorities. Another source suggested that the ban seemed to be reviving interest in older prohibited songs that had faded from public memory.
Three employees at the Kerala office of India's Censor Board were arrested in connection with the piracy of recent Malayalam blockbuster movie Premam .
Earlier, the anti piracy cell of the state police had found that the pirated copy of the
movie uploaded on the internet had carried the water mark censor copy. This made the police suspect the involvement of staff at the Censor Board. Police had raided the censor board office and found that a section of staff used to take out copies of films
submitted for censoring.
Malaysia's Film Censorship Board (LPF), known in Malay as Lembaga Penapisan Filem, has issued bizarre new guidelines that are stricter for muslim Malay productions than for other local ethnic groups, mostly Chinese and Indian.
complaints were lodged by the public to the LPF about a local Malay drama that depicted a married couple in a bedroom scene. The complaints caused by said drama, Maid , prompted the LPF to introduce the new guidelines.
Issued on June 30,
the guidelines apply mostly on local Malay productions, though any Chinese, Tamil and English productions that include a Malay cast will be subjected to the Malay productions criteria.
Some of what local TV dramas and movies will have to adhere to
No passionate scene between men and women and members of the same sex
No passionate kissing scene (on lips/neck)
No molesting/ touching of the genitals and licking between men and women or members of the same sex scene
rape or sexual scene (except if filmed without lighting, behind mosquito nets, or filmed using vague shadows without sexual action)
For fans of horror movies, the below guidelines for any Malay/Chinese/Tamil/English productions will be even more horrifying than any Jasons or Ju-Ons to appear onscreen:
No scene showing very scary and terrifying faces of creatures/entities
No terrifying, nauseating and disgusting scenes
Meanwhile, action movies will have to think of a way to advance their plot without breaking any of the following guidelines:
No scene depicting going against the law (except if the criminals face retribution)
No scene or dialogue that gives a bad image to the government (example: bribing and misuse of power)
Of course, any usage of coarse language/gestures, portrayal of men as women (unless in disguise) and display of skin/genitals/genital outlines as well as anything political will also face the chopping board.
The guidelines currently address TV
contents only but it is likely that they will be extended to movies playing in cinemas too.