A Hezbollah-affiliated satellite TV station is allowed to operate in Australia despite screening racist material in breach of national broadcasting codes.
The criticism of the TV station al-Manar was made by the Australian Communications and Media Authority.
Perhaps a notable decision to allow the channel to continue broadcasting as the Lebanese group is proscribed as a terrorist organisation by the US government and much pressure was brought to bear ban it.
Following an investigation into al-Manar, ACMA has proposed changes to Australia's broadcasting regulations to prohibit content that is likely to advocate the doing of terrorist acts .
Al-Manar, owned by Lebanese Communications group, is broadcast in Australia in Arabic from Lebanon, via an Indonesian satellite company.
The South Australian politician responsible for censorship matters has come up with a truely crackpot suggestion.
Now the call has been made to introduce an adults only rating for video games, Attorney-General John Rau has suggested that the MA15 rating should then be dropped.
Rau told The Advertiser video games were a far more interactive medium than films and attempts to use the same classification structure for both were flawed:
All of the ministers agreed that there will have to be some games that are refused classification all together, regardless of whether there is an R18 (rating) or not, because they're so bad, he said yesterday.
There's also general agreement that some other treatment needs to occur for games than what occurs for film, because of the interactive nature of games.
The proposition I put forward was that I would like the other ministers to think about putting in an R18 classification for games, but removing the MA classification altogether.
Rau said the new regime would grant parents greater certainty that non-R18 games were appropriate for children.
The current MA15 rating was a grey area that included both family-friendly games and material very, very close to being declared adults only, he said.
Removing the MA15 rating would force distributors to either clean up their games to the point where they could be classified PG or force them to accept an adults-only rating.
But of course the MA15 games would then be edited down to just getting a PG whilst again being in the wrong natural category.
Meanwhile...the nutters are happy with the delay to R18+
The Australian Christian Lobby has welcomed the decision of the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General not to provide an R18+ Classification for games.
The ACL's managing director Jim Wallace was one of the panellists at the Standing Committee of Attorney Generals. The meeting included seeing a series of clips of examples of both film and game classifications.
It was very clear to me that the great majority of AGs were in a state of bemusement that anyone could want to make or play many of these games and particularly those proposed for an R18+ rating
It is clear that the meeting failed to get support for the R18 classification as a result.
The claims that the MA15+ rating for games contains a number of games that should be classified higher is simply admission of a failed system.
The Australian Christian Lobby has called for a comprehensive review across all technologies and mediums including advertising and entertainment, for some time and particularly of the political parties during the last election.
Following the recent SCAG meeting on whether the R18+ rating for games was going to go ahead or not, Australian Gamer has got hold of the decision summary from the December 10 meeting:
Ministers considered further work done to analyse community and expert views, including:
(a) a national telephone poll conducted during November which provided Ministers with additional community feedback from a random sample of Australians from all States and Territories
(b) a literature review of research exploring links between computer games and violent behaviour
(c) a study of parity between computer game classifications internationally
(d) a panel discussion between representatives in the fields of computer games, psychology and classification, and
(e) advice from the Classification Board on the operation of the current MA 15+ classification and options for an R 18+ classification.
(a) will consider draft guidelines to be developed for classification of games at their next meeting, including a possible R18+ classification, taking into account concerns raised by Ministers relating to the difference in nature of
film and games; and the interactivity of games; and that there will continue to be a refused classification category, and
(b) do not support the dilution of the refused classification category.
The Australian federal and state governments are to draw up guidelines for a possible new R18+ computer game classification.
A meeting of federal and state attorneys-general in Canberra failed to endorse the federal government's proposal for the new R18+ rating but Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor said what was achieved was still a step forward.
O'Connor said the meeting concluded there needed to be better protection for children and better guidance for parents so they knew what they were buying for their children.
He said the proposed guidelines would take into account differences between film and video games and consider the possibility of redefining the MA15 rating in the event of introducing the R18+ classification.
The system would maintain the refused classification rating, he said: There is some material that is in the view of the attorneys and I that is offensive and should not be accessed by anybody as is the case with film .
So this in my view is a step forward to ensuring we properly consider the classification scheme.
The Australian Film Censorship Board has released its justification for banning the uncut version of A Serbian Film.
In the opinion of the Board, the film contains depictions of sexualised violence and sexual violence which have a very high degree of impact, including an explicit depiction of sexual violence. These depictions are on occasion
inextricably linked to themes of paedophilia and child sexual abuse, which further heightens impact.
While the Board acknowledges that a degree of artistic merit and dramatic intent is evident in this fictional film, it is of the opinion that the film (including the examples noted above) is very high in viewing impact and includes
an explicit depiction of sexual violence. The film therefore exceeds what can be accommodated within the R 18+ classification and should be Refused Classification pursuant.
A minority of the Board is of the opinion that the film contains a depiction of explicit sexual violence [the toothless blow job] , at 71 minutes and the film therefore must be Refused Classification. In
the minority opinion, however, the remainder of the film can be accommodated, with restriction to adults, at the R18+ classification category.
The Gillard Government has approved the R18+ classification for games.
The federal Cabinet approved the adult rating for computer games after finding that many classified as suitable for 15-year-olds in Australia had been ruled suitable for adults only overseas.
As many as 50 games are now available to children as young as 15 but should rightly be played by over-18s only.
Some of the world's top-selling titles, including Grand Theft Auto and Call Of Duty , will fall under the new rating.
Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor will take the Government's new position to a meeting of state and territory attorneys-general this week to seek their approval in changing the games classification system.
Supposed links between violent video games and increased aggressive behaviour in players have long been used by anti-R18+ proponents as a major reason an adult rating for games should not be introduced in Australia. But now it seems the Federal
Government has officially denied that supposition.
The Australian Minister for Home Affairs, Brendan O'Connor, released a review into an R18+ classification for video games that looks at existing research in order to try to answer the question of whether those who play violent video games are at greater
risk of becoming aggressive. According to the review findings, there is no conclusive evidence that violent games have a greater impact than other media.
The review found that evidence about the effect of violent computer games on the aggression displayed by those who play them is inconclusive, O'Connor said: From time to time people claim that there is a strong link between violent crime or
aggressive behaviour and the popularity of violent computer games. The literature does not bear out that assertion.
According to O'Connor, Australia's censorship ministers requested this review be carried out in order to assist them in making an informed decision about R18+ for games leading into the next Standing Committee of Attorneys-General (SCAG) meeting on
December 10. The review also found that there is stronger evidence of short-term effects from violent games than long-term effects and that some research points to the fact that games are a small risk factor in aggressive behaviour over the short term.
However, according to the review, these studies do not thoroughly explore other factors such as aggressive personality, family and peer influence, and socio-economic status.
According to O'Connor, censorship ministers will look carefully at the review findings during next week's SCAG meeting: Australia needs a consistent classification system that protects young minds from any possible adverse affect, while also ensuring
that adults are free to make their own decisions about what they play, within the bounds of the law .
The Australian Sex Party vote in the Victorian Upper House has almost doubled following the state election.
From an average vote of 2.2% in the last Senate election in Victoria, the party's vote in the regions it contested, rose to nearly 4%.
The party recorded the highest vote of minor parties and independents in three out of the four upper house regions it contested.
Party President and candidate in the Upper House region of Northern Metro, Fiona Patten, said that for a party that had been registered for only one month in Victoria to double its federal vote, was a tremendous outcome. The implications for
the Sex Party's vote at the next Senate election are very encouraging , she said.
The Sex Party waged a strong campaign against Labor Minister for Gaming, Tony Robinson, over his curbs on adult entertainment and also ran a strong campaign against the Greens candidate in Richmond, Kathleen Maltzhan, who personally supported
prosecuting clients of sex workers.
Ms Patten said that the most gratifying result was outpolling all three Christian parties (Christian Party, Family First and DLP) in all Upper House seats that the Sex Party ran in. We also recorded a much better vote than the religious
parties in 15 out of 17 lower house seats that we contested , she said. The Sex Party's pledge to get religion out of politics is one small step closer to becoming a reality after this election although religious affiliations and networks
run deep in both major parties these days .
Ms Patten said that the Sex Party would look at running candidates in local government elections and that the first Victorian by election would be keenly contested with Sex Party preferences going to the party that had the best civil liberty and
personal freedom track record.
Kate Lundy, the Labor Senator from the Australian Capital Territory (Canberra) has argues in Parliament for the introduction of
an R18+ videogame rating.
Senator Lundy tabled, or proposed for consideration, a pro-R18+ petition sponsored by retailer GAME and the organization Everyone Plays which featured 89,210 signatures backing the adult videogame rating.
Stating that R18+ is not a decision to be made by the Government, but that it is a decision that requires agreement among the Federal and State Attorneys General around the nation, Lundy cited three key factors for the introduction
The Senator stated that the lack of an R18+ rating creates a grey area for parents and that the new rating tier would allow Australia to catch up with the rest of the world, which she called a significant issue for game
developers and publishers:
With many games originally developed for an adult audience, this represents an additional burden for our Australian games sector. As a result, many of these games are simply banned for sale or distribution in Australia as
a result giving rise to the temptation of overseas purchase, or worse, illicit distribution in Australia.
Lastly, Lundy argued that the government should listen to the people, citing the petition, a research paper indicating that 91% of the entire Australian population supports R18+ and the backing of ACT Attorney General Simon Corbell, who believes
that the R18+ classification would ensure that games with adult content are sold only to adults and that the purchasers are fully aware of the content of the games.
Australian Labor MP Graham Perrett has called for a ban on offensive billboard advertising, saying it's time to reclaim
public spaces and protect common decency.
The man once cheekily dubbed the Member for Porn after penning racy scenes in his debut novel, The Twelfth Fish, said he planned to lobby Attorney-General Robert McClelland about whether advertising laws can be tightened and would
support a Parliamentary inquiry into the issue.
The Member for Moreton said the billboard, for an erectile dysfunction treatment, was on a busy road and likely to be seen by children: I've been called the 'Member for Porn', so I'm not a prude ...BUT... I find it troublesome and I
think we do need to take a closer look at it .
We have lots of weeks here, we have Liver Week, Mental Health Week, I think we need to have a 'Back to Middle-Class Values Week' where we reclaim public spaces, he said. He also noted the offending billboard was close to a nondescript
brothel that was less offensive to the eye than the advertisement and unlikely to upset any parents on school runs.
Perrett also suggested an advertising watershed for billboards. He said electronic advertising meant it was possible to promote adult content after 8.30pm and ensure more family friendly themes were present during school hours.
Australian Sex Party convenor and Victorian Upper House candidate Fiona Patten has hit out at Victoria's
classification laws following a police raid on a festival director's home, for showing a banned film earlier this year.
Police searched the home of Melbourne Underground Film Festival director Richard Wolstencroft last week in an attempt to uncover a copy of banned Bruce LaBruce gay zombie porn film, L.A. Zombie .
Wolstencroft screened L.A. Zombi e in protest in August after the Censor Board refused to okay the film for the festival.
At the time, Wolstencroft told the Star Observer the film's gay themes played a part in the reason the film had been banned.
Patten said Victoria's classification laws need to change: It just goes to show how archaic Victoria's laws are that Richard could face jail or a $240,000 fine for showing a film that's been seen widely around the world, to
adults who've paid to see it. Despite years of campaigning, the government has refused to to act and now someone could be facing jail for showing a mainstream film to adults. It shows the classification laws desperately need a change.
It just shows how Victorian, Victoria's laws are. I think people in this state are far more progressive than this and it's not in-line with how the public feels.
A black metal festival that was to be held in Sydney, Australia on Nov. 27 has been cancelled because a Catholic group successfully used Facebook to protest what they saw as a disgraceful event promoting Satanism.
This coming Sat 27 November a satanic 'Black Mass' celebration is to occur at Newtown RSL - it is simply disgraceful, the description on the group's Facebook group protest page reads. The advertising which features the insignia of the
Church of Satan and an inverted crucifix is encouraging people to come and partake in an 'unholy spell to be cast upon the city of Sydney' featuring the 'ultimate of soul possessing occult revelations...unbridled blasphemy...[and] a union of all
Apparently this group did not understand that advertising was not meant to be taken literally.
The promoter, Seance Records, says the group have been responsible for the event getting cancelled: Less than two weeks out from the show The RSL board has pulled the plug on Black Mass Festival, they wrote on Australian
metal forum Brismetal.com. They have blatantly cancelled with no prior notice and with no option of negotiation or compromise. They have sadly bowed under pressure from Christians who have lobbied them to cancel the show.
Their actions will cause large scale hurt not to a secret den of Satanists as they may imagine but to normal hard working, tax paying, law abiding Australians. Young people who have taken time off work, rearranged their
schedules and family life, then spent money that they probably can't afford on flights and tickets to the event in the pursuit of a shared love for heavy metal & live independent Australian music.
In the latest instalment of the zombie film saga, Victoria
Police raided the home of Richard Wolstencroft, the director of the Melbourne Underground Film Festival (MUFF), seeking a copy of the banned film LA Zombie .
The gay-porn-horror movie, by American underground filmmaker Bruce LaBruce, was screened by Wolstencroft before about 200 people on August 29 despite effectively being forbidden from public exhibition in censorial Australia.
The Censor Board banned the film, which was originally slated to appear in the Melbourne International Film Festival in July 2010.
However, on August 11, Wolstencroft announced his intention to stage a public disobedience freedom of speech event — an illegal screening of the film — on August 29. The screening went ahead as planned.
The police didn't attend at the time but now turned up on Wolstencroft's doorstep with a warrant to enter his premises and search for any copies of the film.
It is believed the police considered removing every DVD in Wolstencroft's house, as well as computers containing two movies on which he is working. They were eventually dissuaded by his insistence that he had destroyed his only copy of the film,
on DVD, after the August screening. Wolstencroft also admitted to police that the August 29 screening had gone ahead and that he was solely responsible for it.
A Victoria Police spokeswoman said Wolstencroft would face court at a later date.
Wolstencroft appeared to be quite shaken by this morning's events saying: I've never been charged with so much as jay-walking, he told Fairfax. I find the situation that a little festival is being pursued in this way quite distressing
The Australian Communications & Media Authority (ACMA) has hit the Nine Network with an enforceable undertaking , its most severe punishment, over a gay sex scene in the television series Dante's Cove.
ACMA was responding to a complaint alleging that a December 9 episode of the show screened at 10.30 at night should have been given an R rating and hence banned from TV.
It had detailed and explicit scenes of oral sex etc and in one scene you got a full frontal view of the man's genitals, wrote the complainant.
ACMA found the offending scene contained significant quantities of, unambiguous visual detail including, thrusting during simulated fellatio , thrusting during simulated intercourse and genital nudity in a sexual context
The length of the scene and the unambiguous visual detail, including genital nudity, are such that the intimate sexual behaviour is not discreetly implied or discreetly simulated. It therefore cannot be accommodated within the AV
Nine argued in its defence that a flaccid penis should be as acceptable as naked breasts and that the scene did not contain depictions of genital penetration, oral stimulation … genital contact or other forms of explicit sex.
Nine's classifiers will now have to attend training approved by the Director of the Classification Board. However it is hard to determine what impact this will have as the Classifications Board itself assessed the first season of Dante's Cove
as MA15+ for DVD for its violence and horror themes — not its sexual content, which the Board deemed would have been acceptable for an M rating by itself.
Episodes of Dante's Cove broadcast over the next two years will now have to be edited and Nine must provide weekly reports to ACMA on any complaints it receives about the show.
Nine already planned to edit season two of Dante's Cove which is R rated on DVD, but the ruling means that it will have to edit season three as well — also deemed MA15+ by the Classifications Board.
Notes: Australian TV Censorship & Ratings
Mature Adult (MA)
Suitable for viewing only by persons 15 years or over because of the intensity and/ or frequency of sexual depictions, or coarse language, adult themes or drug use.
Allowed 9:00pm - 5:00am.
Adult Violence (AV)
Suitable for viewing only by persons aged 15 years or over. It is unsuitable for MA classification because of the intensity and/or frequency of violence, or because violence is central to the theme.
Allowed 9.30pm and 5.00 am.
18 rated material (R)
Banned at all times on free to air TV. (Allowed on subscription TV)
Confused travellers unsure about what sort of porn they're allowed to bring into Australia have prompted a
re-working of incoming passenger cards.
Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor said he had asked to change the wording on the declaration cards travellers must fill out when they fly into Australia.
The previous card stated that travellers needed to disclose any 'pornography' they were carrying,' O'Connor said: That has now been amended to read 'illegal pornography .''
But with no further advice on hand about what constitutes 'illegal pornography' , travellers may be forced to run their selection by a Customs officer.
My advice to travellers is that if you're in doubt – find out, O'Connor said: Customs officers operate with discretion and the penalties for failing to declare a prohibited import are steep. Prohibited pornography includes child
pornography and material depicting bestiality, explicit sexual violence, degradation, cruelty and non-consensual sex, a statement from the Minister said.
The Australian Sex Party claimed credit for the changes today. The party's spokesman Robbie Swan said he wrote to O'Connor's office about six months ago after receiving complaints from a number of members, including a couple on their honeymoon,
who thought they had to declare naked pictures of themselves after reading the incoming passenger card. Others had called the party to complain that the ambiguous wording meant they were forced to declare material that was legal in Australia, he
A fine of up to $11,000 applies if travellers are caught making a false or misleading statement to a Customs officer.
The Australian press is reporting that the poor treatment of a couple returning from honeymoon was the spur to a re-wording of Australia's porn declaration requirements at customs:
Afraid of breaking the law, an Australian couple returning home from an overseas honeymoon felt obliged to show customs officials naked photos of themselves.
[The couple were] on the beach, they were nude, they'd taken a photo of themselves on their iPhone having an embrace, said Robbie Swan, spokesman for the Australian Sex Party. It wasn't full on or anything, but when
they'd gone through customs they'd asked what 'pornography' meant and the customs officer had said: 'Well, anything explicit.'
They were made to display a nude photo of themselves in a line with all these other people, Swan said. They were so embarrassed.
The Sex Party, a libertarian political organization and lobby group, says it has received complaints from angry citizens over the law, which was introduced late last year. The government has told travelers to show their
photographs to customs officers if they are in doubt about the content.
The previous [arrival] card stated that travelers needed to disclose any 'pornography' they were carrying, Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor said in a statement. That has now been amended to read 'illegal
The government says illegal pornography in Australia includes child pornography and material depicting bestiality, explicit sexual violence, degradation, cruelty and nonconsensual sex.
In addition to censoring games submitted by distributors, the Australian Censor Board also examine games submitted by law enforcement agencies.
Such titles are usually kept secret, lest everyone wants one, but the censors revealed one of these banned games in their recent Annual Report.
The title is Enzai, Falsely Accused , a 2002 Japanese game that was released in the U.S. in 2006.
In their report, the Classification Board describe the reasons for their ban:
The ACMA referred content to the Classification Board which consists of a computer game titled Enzai supplied on a laptop computer. The Anime style game follows the story of a character who is placed in jail and convicted of
a murder which he did not commit. Whilst in jail he suffers physical and sexual abuse from guards and other prisoners. The game is primarily an interactive story, however, there are several options to choose between to change the path of the
In the Board's view this computer game warrants an RC classification as it contains depictions of sexual violence that depict matters of sex and violence in such a way that they offend against the standards of morality,
decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults to the extent that it should not be classified. It also contains descriptions and depictions of child sexual abuse involving a person who is, or who appears to be, a child under 18
The Australian Senate have been debating censorship with the Censor Board.
First up was a return to the perennial debate about unclassified adult films and magazines.
Other issues that were touched on included, airbrushed vaginas, Classification Board vacancies, the decline of the X18+ rating, the games R18+ rating, the internet filter, teenage magazines, and sexual imagery in music videos.
The Green's Scott Ludlam attempted to get to the bottom of the Classification Board's rating of submissions by State law enforcement.
Finally, it would not be Senate Estimates without Julian McGauran raging against Salo . The DVD was finally released in September, the same month as it was confirmed that McGauran had lost his Senate seat.
Before an R18+ adult rating for videogames can be introduced in Australia, Minister for Home Affairs Brendan O'Connor believes
that more feedback from the community is needed.
O'Connor's view, as detailed by GameSpot, comes after a pair of wildly successful petitions backed the introduction of an R18+ rating tier.
O'Connnor, who had previously attributed the R18+ petition support to interest groups, echoed that sentiment again, saying that the government still needed to hear from the silent majority on the subject.
This time around, the Minister stated:
Ministers are aware of the support for the proposal shown by the number of submissions received. However, they are also aware of the wide range of views on this issue in the community. Ministers have made a commitment to discuss the issue at a
future meeting and have requested further analysis of community and expert views to better understand the arguments on each side.
Some good news for R18+ supporters anyway, the issue is still on the agenda of November's Standing Committee of Attorneys-Generals (SCAG) meeting.
The Labor Party has suspended the president of the New South Wales upper house, Amanda
Fazio, after she voted against a bill empowering easier police prosecution of adult consensual hardcore.
During a debate in Parliament last night, Ms Fazio defied her party by crossing the floor to vote with the Greens. Liberals and Nationals MPs, as well as the Shooters, Family First and Christian Democrats all voted in favour of the bill. The
Greens opposed it.
Under party dictates, MPs must vote along party lines, except if they are allowed a conscience vote.
The bill is designed to boost the powers of police to prosecute those selling X-rated material. Under the Classifications (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Enforcement Amendment Bill, retailers charged with selling banned adult films face
being asked to choose between admitting the offence or paying hundreds of dollars to have it classified by the Classification Board. The government says the proposal is designed to save money by removing the need for police to send films and other
material for classification before prosecution.
Material rated X18+ or Refused Classification is banned from sale in NSW.
The bill has been criticised by the Greens and Australia's peak adult industry group, the Eros Foundation. They claim it effectively hands censorship powers to the police and may result in unfair pressure on retailers.
Greens MP David Shoebridge said: Under the bill, members of the NSW Police Force effectively are empowered to act as national classifiers. Clearly, members of the police force simply do not have the relevant training to undertake the role of
Police who charge a person with selling films or other material rated X18+ or Refused Classification will be able to ask the seller to sign a notice agreeing that the material would likely be classified that way by the Classification Board.
If the seller refuses and is found guilty, prosecutors can apply for an order that the defendant pay the cost of having the material rated by the Classification Board. The cost to classify a 120-minute DVD is about $700. No classification costs
will be payable if the seller signs and is subsequently found not guilty.
Under the current legislation, police must pay to have a seized film, publication or computer game classified. Once classified, they must apply for an evidentiary certificate before proceeding with a prosecution. The proposed legislation removes
the need to obtain an evidentiary certificate, which can cost up to $1400, of which the police must pay half. Police are entitled to 100 fee-free applications for classification and evidentiary certificates, but the government says they regularly
exceed this quota.
Despite nearly losing an election over the matter, Aussie Prime Minister Julia Gillard still thinks it is a jolly good idea
to censor the Internet, Chinese style.
The matter has gone quiet down under after the Government said it did not want to press the case for an Internet filter.
Now Gilliard is bringing the plan back claiming it was necessary because it was driven by a moral question .
Speaking during a press club meeting, Gillard said that it is unlawful for an adult to go to a cinema and watch certain sorts of content [or play an adults only computer game considered perfectly ok in the rest of the civilised world].
It's unlawful and we believe it to be wrong. If we accept that then it seems to me that the moral question is not changed by the medium that the images come through, she said.
Gillard has admitted that the problem of how to set up the internet filter is more complicated, but the underpinning moral question is, I think, exactly the same .