Australian radio personality, Kyle Sandilands made derogatory and offensive comments about a female journalist that amounted to a breach of the radio code of practice, Australia's media censor has judged.
Last November Sandilands called a
news.com.au journalist a piece of shit and a fat slag and told her to watch your mouth or I'll hunt you down after she reported on the negative reaction to his TV show the night before.
His derogatory comments, made on
November 22, are believed to have cost his employer, Southern Cross Austereo, about $10 million in sponsorship, with advertisers walking from the 2Day FM's Kyle and Jackie O Show in disgust.
The ACMA has begun formal steps to impose a
second licence condition on the broadcaster which would prohibit the station from broadcasting indecent content and content that demeans women or girls.
ACMA chairman Chris Chapman said:
The Authority found the
comments by Mr Sandilands deeply derogatory and offensive and in all the circumstances a licence condition is the appropriate response.
Although the comments conveyed hatred, serious contempt and severe ridicule on the grounds of
gender, they were not considered likely to incite those feelings in others, he said.
Canberra, Australia's capital, will start using the new R18+ rating next week.
ACT Attorney-General Simon Corbell said:
This is part of a national reform that will allow adult gamers to view R18+ material in the
same way that can already be done for film and printed material, said But at the same time it will also provide protection to parents and children by giving parents better guidance about what material is and is not appropriate for people under the
age of 18.
Michael Atkinson was a South Australian Attorney general who came to the notice of Melon farmers for his strong support of the censorial idea that 18 rated games should be totally banned in Australia.
He complained to the Australian Press Council
about an article in The Advertiser of September 6, 2011 on the resignation of Mike Rann. The article contained a few sentences about each of several former and new ministers. The description of Atkinson began:
party's most eccentric figure sparked voter anger with an attempt to censor internet blog forums ...
Atkinson complained that use of the word censor misrepresented the legislation he introduced to extend to the internet the
long-established law that, during election periods, letters to the editor intended to influence the result of the election should bear the author's real name. He complained the newspaper refused to publish a letter to the editor in which he had sought to
correct the record.
The newspaper responded that the legislation amounted to censorship because it would have reduced the right to free speech and was an attempt to close down legitimate debate.
The Press Council concluded there are strong
grounds for arguing the term censor is an inaccurate or unfair description of the effect of legislation which does not prevent people from expressing themselves on the internet but simply requires them to provide their names in the same way as has
long applied to letters in newspapers.
In any event, having used such a strong and disputable term, the newspaper had a clear obligation to publish Atkinson's letter or discuss with him ways in which it could be edited for inclusion. Accordingly,
the complaint is upheld on that ground.
The Sony PlayStation Vita version of the Warner Brothers classic fighting game reboot Mortal Kombat has been banned by the Censorship Board.
The game was submitted to the misleadingly named Classification Board of Australia by Warner
Brothers despite previous console versions of the game being similarly banned for explicit violence. The publisher felt that the impact of the violence in the Vita version of Mortal Kombat would be lessened by the portable console's smaller screen
Obviously, the censors didn't agree.
Warner Bros. clarified that the version submitted was the same, unedited version of Mortal Kombat for the Vita that will be released globally, except Australia, on April 19.
The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) report about rationalising media censorship across all formats has proposed some sensible reforms to remove some of the more ludicrous anomalies in Australian media censorship.
The current so called
'Refused Classification' (RC) category will be narrowed down a little and renamed to the more sensible tag, 'Prohibited'.
The ALRC first recommended that RC be renamed Prohibited to avoid confusion:
plain meaning of the term is confusing, because content that is 'Refused Classification' has, in fact, received a classification. That is, the term is open to misunderstanding, because it does not make it clear that the content has been subject to a
classification decision-making process.
The ALRC has recommended that the government should review prohibitions on the depiction of sexual fetishes in films and detailed instruction in the use of proscribed drugs , as well as
refining prohibition on content that promotes, incites or instructs in matters of crime to be only limited to serious crime .
ISPs would only be required to block prohibited content once it has been classified as being prohibited,
the ALRC said, and, given the large amount of content online, the ALRC suggested that only a sub-category of prohibited content should be blocked by the filter, such as child-abuse material.
Another important recommendation of the review is that
adult X18+ hardcore content need not be classified beyond the self declared X18+ label. At present such material may only be sold in shops in Canberra and the Northern Territory. It is recommended that it would be made legal across Australia.
the regulation should be refined to protect minors from accessing the content. The ALRC conceded that it would not be possible for the Classification Board to classify all adult content online, suggesting that ISPs should take reasonable steps to
restrict access to the content by minors, such as promoting family friendly filters, or potentially implementing age-verification tools for sites that the ISP knows to be classified X18+.
Government politicians have said little so far about the recommendations. However the Pirate Party have responded.
Pirate Party Australia has welcomed some of the recommendations made by the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) about reforming
the current classification system.
Several recommendations in the ALRC's final report conform to the Pirate Party's policies, the party said in a statement. David W. Campbell, Party President said that the recommendation to use the term Prohibited
in place of the spineless and vague 'Refused Classification' label was a move in the right direction. Too much content is left in limbo. Hopefully this is a victory for common sense, and we will see less content lumped in with materials
that truly deserve to be illegal, such as child pornography.
Speaking about freedom of expression, the Party statement approved the possible redefinition of the Prohibited category to narrow its scope and review the prohibitions on
depictions of sexual fetishes. The Party believes that it is indicative of a progressive society and feels it is necessary to bring the category in line with what are socially acceptable practices to certain communities legally engaging in the practices
The Party however, raised an objection to the inclusion of a recommendation which has appeared to some to compel Internet Service Providers (ISP) and other intermediaries to filter the Internet. The Party has been continuously
campaigning against the compulsory Internet filter proposed by Stephen Conroy, the present Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy.
The inclusion of the toxic notion of Internet Service Provider obligations is once again
flogging the dead horse of privacy encroachment and destructive breakdown of Australian citizens' rights, Campbell elaborated. Saying that the recommendation tries to convert ISPs into enforcement agencies, Campbell referred to the technical
impracticalities of restricting any content on the Internet without destroying it. This expansion of 'intermediary liability' constantly rears its head in all facets of Internet governance --- it is both unwarranted and unnecessary, he said.
An inquiry into Australia's news media has recommended that a new press censor body be established to set and monitor journalistic standards.
The inquiry was launched in September 2011 in the wake of Britain's phone-hacking scandal. The report
called for a News Media Council to handle public complaints.
The review, headed by former judge Ray Finkelstein, found that current self-regulation mechanisms did not make media organisations sufficiently accountable and said more needed to
be done to bolster public confidence.
The new council would apply to news and current affairs across print, online, radio and television. The inquiry said it should be funded by the government but independent of it. The report said:
The establishment of a council is not about increasing the power of government or about imposing some form of censorship ...[But]... It is about making the news media more accountable to those covered in the
news, and to the public generally.
The press censor would handle complaints and should have power to make a news outlet publish an apology, correction or retraction, the report said.
Update: Bloggers to
be drawn into Australian press censorship
Bloggers whose writings receive just 41 page impressions a day could be drawn into Australian press censorship under a proposed new model of media
regulation for Australia. The recommendation comes from the Finkelstein report.
The report's central suggestion is that the government should create and fund a new central body , called the News Media Council, to handle all complaints about media.
Such a body is needed, the report argues, because Australia currently has multiple overlapping media regulators, most of which are ineffectual. There's also no regulator at all for online media.
The authors try to define just what media should be
subject to the new body's oversight and decides that publishers must be in the business of creating news, a definition it says could include bloggers because there are many newsletter publishers and bloggers, although no longer part of the 'lonely
pamphleteer' tradition, who offer up-to-date reflections on current affairs.
The report then says If a publisher distributes more than 3000 copies of print per issue or a news internet site has a minimum of 15 000 hits per annum it should
be subject to the jurisdiction of the News Media Council, but not otherwise. The report adds that These numbers are arbitrary, but a line must be drawn somewhere. 15,000 page impressions a year computes to just 41 page impressions a day.
All media in Australia should be classified, and censored, in the same way, according to a landmark report published today.
Conducting the first review of Australia's classification laws in 20 years, the Australian Law Reform Commission found
that the rapid rise of new forms of media had overtaken existing classification laws.
The review would have far-reaching implications for Australia's media. Radio and television broadcasters are subject to regulation by the Australian
Communications and Media Authority. Television broadcasters are also subject to guidelines under the Commercial Television Code of Practice.
The report recommended:
One set of laws establishing obligations to classify or restrict access to content across media platforms.Clear scope of what must be classified: feature films and television programs, as well as computer games likely to be MA 15+ or higher, that are
both made and distributed on a commercial basis, and likely to have a significant Australian audience.
A shift in regulatory focus to restricting access to adult content, by imposing new obligations on content providers to take reasonable steps
to restrict access to adult content and to promote cyber-safety.
Co-regulation and industry classification, with more industry classification of content and industry development of classification codes, but subject to regulatory oversight.
Classification Board benchmarking and community standards, with a clear role for the Classification Board in making independent classification decisions that reflect community standards.
An Australian government scheme that replaces the
current co-operative scheme with enforcement under Commonwealth law.
A single regulator with primary responsibility for regulating the new scheme.
Professor Flew of the ALRC said:
Classification criteria should also be reviewed periodically, to ensure they reflect community standards,
One category that may no longer
align with community standards is 'Refused Classification' or 'RC'. The scope of this category should be narrowed, and the ALRC suggests changes for government to consider.
[So it is recommended that hardcore porn be legalised
for sale across Australia with self classification by the industry. But all this in return for the adult industry taking on board strict conditions to ensure that the material is not sold to under 18s. In fact, any such restrictions will apply equally to
softcore and even mainstream R18+ horror films for adults].
Star Wars XXX, a Porn Parody is a 2012 US adult video by Axel Braun. With Allie Haze, Seth Gamble and Tom Byron. See IMDb
The video has now been banned
by the Australian film censor. It must be good.
Award winning director Axel Braun teamed up with adult powerhouse Vivid Entertainment to film the most ambitious porn movie ever made! Will Leia succumb
to the dark side of the Force? Will Han shoot first? Will Chewy get lucky? You will get all the answers and much much more in the adult movie event of the year: Star Wars XXX - A Porn Parody! May the farce be with you!
Australian law Reform Commission delivers its report on rationalising media censorship
From the Australian law Reform Commission (ALRC)
The Classification team delivered its Final Report on the Review of the National Classification Scheme to the Attorney-General. Under the ALRC Act, the Attorney-General now has 15 Parliamentary sitting days in which to table the Report. Until it is
tabled, the Report is under embargo and the ALRC is unable to make any comment about its recommendations or the Report's content.
We have also produced a short Summary Report that provides an accessible overview of the ALRC's
recommendations and approach to reform. Once these publications have been tabled, they will be available to view or download from the ALRC website.
The Mardi Gras Film Festival expects to be granted an exemption from film censorship laws so it can screen four films featuring real sex acts.
Despite the law prohibiting the public screening of (hardcore) X-rated films in New South Wales, the
festival's director, Lex Lindsay, said:
We are confident the classification board will be satisfied with our rationale for screening these works ... and that the content in each of these works, whilst being sexually
explicit, is of a nature and artistic standard suitable for public screenings to a group of educated and interested adults.
The Mardi Gras Film Festival opens in Sydney on February 16 at cinemas in Newtown, Parramatta and the Hoyts
Cinema complex in Moore Park.
Two of the films, Homme au bain (Man at Bath) and Sagat , feature penetrative sex between men, and In Their Room: Berlin depicts a casual sex encounter during which the actors perform oral sex.
Community Action Centre contains frequent sex scenes between transgender individuals, which Lindsay suggested in a submission to the classification board could lead to a possible X-rating.
A spokesman for the board, Brian Kent, said organisers
of film festivals wishing to screen unclassified films in the festival must apply for an exemption:
If it is likely that an unclassified film will be X18+ or Refused Classification, the exemption will not be granted,
[There may be a little hype going on here. Britain's film censors at the BBFC passed Man at Bath 18 uncut with the comment: Contains strong sex and nudity. If there is any real sex going
on, the BBFC usually comment that it contains 'real sex' rather than 'strong sex'].
Australia's Classification Board has banned two films from the program for the Mardi Gras Film Festival.
The films, Community Action Centre and In Their Room: Berlin , contain some unsimulated sexual activity. The Board has refused
the exemption from classification on the grounds that should the films undergo the classification process in Australia they would be granted an X classification. X-rated films are not allowed to be screened publicly in New South Wales.
director Lex Lindsay expressed his disappointment at the decision to members in an email:
Obviously I am astoundingly disappointed with this decision and didn't expect the Board to use such a stringent interpretation
of the 20-year-old Classification Act in assessing these films, he wrote.
I believe these films are not only appropriate for public viewing, but strongly deserving of festival screenings to an informed and sympathetic audience who
have chosen to see them. Regrettably, I believed the Classification Board might agree with me.
To contextualise my decision, Community Action Centre, bringing together the work of a number of video artists responding to the simple
idea that our bodies are art, has just been purchased by the Museum of Modern Art in New York and has exhibited at the Tate Modern, London. It will now not be screening in Australia.
As a curator of the world's most important new
screen images of queer people, life and art, I wanted to bring you this film, but unfortunately our classification system has made that impossible.
Offsite: Statement from Festival Director Lex Lindsay
24th February 2012. From mgff.queerscreen.com.au
In order to screen unclassified material, all Australian film festivals must request an exemption from classification for the content they have programmed. The Classification Board have chosen to refuse this exemption for two of the titles
selected for this festival. Community Action Centre and In Their Room: Berlin.
These two films contain some real sexual activity, and the Classification Board refused this exemption on the grounds that they believe, should these films undergo the
classification process in Australia, they would be granted an X classification. There's nothing wrong with X classified material, but the current laws state you may not publicly screen it. As such, we won't.
Update: Bath is
26th February 2012. From mgff.queerscreen.com.au , thanks to Bob
One of the 3 films originally identified as prone to censorship by the Australian Classification Board has survived and will play at the Mardi Gras festival on
28th February. Man at Bath survived the censors, whereas Community Action Centre and In Their Room: Berlin were banned on the grounds that they would likely be X Rated.
Man at Bath will now be shown with the warning:
This film contains some explicit sexual content.
Australia's Federal Minister for Home Affairs Jason Clare has started the ball rolling for an adult rating for video. For the first step the bill has been cleared by the Federal Parliamentary Caucus of the Australian Labor Party. The bill is now ready to
be introduced in parliament.
The R18+ bill needs the support of at least two crossbench members of parliament to be passed through the Lower House. To pass through the Senate, the Bill needs the support of either the coalition or the Greens, both of
which have indicated some level of support for the R18+ issue.
If all goes to plan, Clare is proposing that a R18+ for games will be available from 1st January 2013.
opposition Coalition has asked that the R18+ bill be sent for an inquiry.
As part of the legislation process, if one MP calls for an inquiry on a proposed bill, that bill must undergo extra scrutiny and further examination by a Standing Committee.
This inquiry process is usually utilised for bills that are deemed complex or controversial.
The good news, however, is that these inquiries are usually fast tracked, and made up of people with responsibilities in that portfolio area, so to not
delay the passage of the proposed legislation. It's probably worth noting that, since 1990, approximately 30% of bills have been sent to Standing Committees.
Australia's opposition Coalition has announced plans for an Online Safety Working Group designed to assist parents and teachers in protecting young people from the risks associated with the internet and social media.
The Coalition will consult
with technology, education and cyber safety representatives, to develop its online safety policy in the areas of education, regulation and enforcement.
Federal opposition leader, Tony Abbott, said in a statement that approximately 2.2 million
Australian children actively engage via the internet and are vulnerable to its risks:
In a relatively short period of time, the internet has transformed our way of life. However, there are also risks, and children are
particularly vulnerable. These risks include children being exposed to illegal or inappropriate content and the increasing use of social media as a forum for online bullying.
Abbott added that the Coalition do not seek to repeat
Labor's ham-fisted attempt to put a filter on the internet or to hinder the dynamic nature of the online environment. Abbott was referring to the Federal Government's proposed mandatory Internet Service Provider (ISP) filter which attracted
criticism from the IT industry during 2011: This is about protecting cyber privacy. It's not about trying to enforce cyber censorship.
Stephen Conroy, the Australian minister of Communications Blocking has remained stalwart in his support for Labor's hated mandatory internet blocking scheme in a debate on ABC TV.
He was asked whether Labor's support for the blocking was
pointless, given that it may not have the numbers to get through Parliament.
Conroy answered that a review of the Refused Classification category of content still had to be undertaken before legislation was introduced to Parliament. He added:
The legislation will ultimately reflect the outcome of that review... for people to say it definitely won't be passed, the legislation hasn't been drafted, and that review hasn't taken place yet
don't, simply because you've got a lot of criticism, say 'well I'm going to run away from that policy.
Other panelists were more wary. Independent Rob Oakeshott said he was in favour of personal responsibility in terms of internet
use, but he would wait to see the legislation.
Shadow Innovation Minister Sophie Mirabella told the audience that the Coalition wouldn't support the policy because it wouldn't work, particularly as it was unable to block peer-to-peer traffic.
Australian Sex Party president Fiona Patton warned filter critics not to take the Coalition's opposition to the scheme for granted. (Shadow Treasurer) Joe Hockey may have said he won't support the filter as it stands, but certainly Tony Abbott out
at Rooty Hill, of course, said that he would do whatever he could to stop people looking at filth, she said.
In July last year, Australian state, and territory censorship ministers reached an in-principle agreement to introduce an R18+ classification for video games in Australia.
At the time, the measure was championed by the former Federal Minister for
Home Affairs Brendan O'Connor.
he has since moved to a new job during the federal government's ministerial reshuffle late last year, with former Minister for Defence Materiel Jason Clare named the new Federal Minister for Home Affairs.
Clare so far been silent on his intentions for the adult classification for games. Now, speaking to GameSpot AU, Clare's office has revealed that the minister will stick to the previously announced timeline for R18+ and will introduce the R18+ for games bill in the first session of this year's parliamentary sittings, due to commence on February 7.
A spokeswoman for Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare indicated the Government expected the legislation to be passed by the end of the year.
However the Government lives on a parliamentary knife edge needing support from cross bench MPs. It
is not yet clear whether the bill will get the necessary consensus.
The Victorian Attorney-General's office confirmed it intended to allow R18+ games to be sold there. The Victorian Government also intends to legislate to provide for an R18+ computer game classification, a spokesman said.
(This is) in
accordance with the agreement reached between state and territory attorneys-general in July last year to introduce the new classification together with agreed guidelines to protect against excessive levels of graphic, frequent and gratuitous violence.
The Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) has complained with the Australian broadcaster SBS about the British-made television series The Promise, which it says conveys anti-Jewish stereotypes.
In a letter to SBS, the Jewish
organisation alleges that the series
promotes, endorses and reinforces demeaning stereotypes about Jews as a group. All of the principal Jewish characters (and thus by implication Jews generally) are portrayed
negatively and, ultimately, without any redeeming virtues. They are cast as variously cruel, violent, hateful, ruthless, unfeeling, amoral, treacherous, racist and/or hypocritical.
The ancient libel that holds all Jews throughout
history to be collectively guilty of killing Jesus has been segued into the equally ludicrous proposition that all Jews are collectively guilty of the wanton shedding of innocent blood, a staple of contemporary Palestinian propaganda. The series also
panders to stereotypes about Jews being immoderately wealthy and having acquired their wealth unfairly. The cumulative effect of these consistently negative portrayals of all of the principal Jewish characters and of the series' numerous
misrepresentations of the relevant historical background in a way that consistently casts Jews in a negative light is to demean Jews as a group.
The relevant historical events (and their misrepresentation) and the principal Jewish
characters are vehicles for attributing negative traits to Jews generally across time and space. 'The Promise' utilizes and reinforces racist tropes about Jews that, but for a brief post-WWII respite, have been embedded in western civilization since
pre-Christian times and are not in any way comparable to negative portrayals of other groups.
The four-part series The Promise, written and directed by British filmmaker Peter Kosminsky, tells a fictional story about Erin (played by
actress Claire Foy), an 18-year-old British girl who visits her Israeli friend Eliza in Israel in 2005. Erin carries and progressively reads through the diary of her grandfather, Len, which describes Len's experiences while serving as a sergeant in the
British army in the 1940s.
First screened in the UK in February 2011 and in France in March 2011, critics and Jewish organizations in both countries condemned the series. The Board of Deputies of British Jews also complained, but Ofcom, the UK's
TV censor, said the program was not in breach of any of its guidelines.
The distributor of Steve McQueen's new film Shame has lashed out at Australia's classification board, saying the internationally acclaimed film doesn't deserve an R18+ rating.
Transmission Films general manager Courtney Botfield says
she is disappointed the Australian Classification Board has stamped Shame with the rating, which restricts marketing and tends to dent box office takings.
The classification is harsh, she claims, given the film's level of explicit content and the
absence of violence:
We were disappointed, we don't think the film is that terribly explicit to deserve an R rating.
Given that it was rated in a similar classification bracket in the US it was
on the cards, but we were pretty confident it wouldn't get one.
In fact the film was rated adults only in both the UK (18 rating), and the US (NC-17 rating).
Botfield says some people will miss out seeing an important film
because of restrictions on marketing. She explained:
Mainly it's the trailering. The trailer is automatically rated R and can only play with other R-rated films, of which there are none, so that key marketing tool
Australian media companies are angry that immigration officials have pushed through new government media censorship that would ban them from showing video of asylum seekers in Australia.
The Australian Communication and Media Authority says
television stations will no longer be allowed to show video of asylum seekers reaching the country by boat.
But media companies are crying foul, saying the the restrictions, implemented at the behest of immigration officials, amount to censorship.
Chris Warren, federal secretary of the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance, said this amounts to an effort to prevent asylum seekers from telling their stories to the Australian people: It's an unnecessary restriction, which will get in
the way of Australians really understanding what asylum seekers go through. Warren said while there are valid concerns about privacy behind the measure, it's not appropriate for the immigration authorities to step in and, in a heavy-handed way, try
to impose restrictions on the media.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority seeks to correct inaccurate media reporting about its recently published Privacy Guidelines for Broadcasters
2011. Its publication concludes the first review of the ACMA's guidelines since their introduction in 2005.
Some media outlets have claimed that the guidelines are imposing new privacy restrictions on the electronic media, said ACMA
Chairman, Chris Chapman. This is simply not the case. The regulation of broadcasting content in Australia is largely set out in codes of practice developed by the television and radio industries themselves.
Privacy protections have long
been embedded in these codes of practice. The ACMA's revised guidelines do not, and indeed cannot, of themselves create new obligations, and are only intended to assist licensees to comply with their own codes.
The industry codes require
broadcasters to take account of both the rights of individuals to privacy and the (ultimately overriding) public interest. Nothing has changed in this regard from the ACMA's existing 2005 Privacy Guidelines. There is no new "media restriction;"
there are no new "media rules".
A particular erroneous claim being made is that the guidelines restrict the coverage by the media of the arrival of asylum seekers to Australia.
In fact, the guidelines make no specific
mention of asylum seekers, as claimed, nor do they create a new protection, namely that of seclusion, Chapman said.
The notion of seclusion has been around for a long time, has been well explored in the courts and was specifically referred to
and accepted in an ACMA investigation report into a 2008 Ten News at Five broadcast. The concept was then explicitly included in the ACMA's draft guidelines released for public consultation in August 2011.