Australia's TV censor has thrown out complaints made against Channel Nine for broadcasting live phone sex content on its infomercial channel.
BabeTV Live went out on Extra in Queensland and regional NSW after 10pm on 8 October, with some viewers complaining that the exploitative and degrading content should have come with a (softcore) R18+ adult rating.
BabeTV Live features two scantily clad female presenters who encourage viewers to call in at a cost of $4.75 per minute, using provocative language and suggestive actions. Before it begins, the message the following program is for ADULTS ONLY
appears on screen.
In its findings on its website, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) ruled that BabeTV Live is advertising, since the presenters continually refer to the phone number displayed on the screen, including direct verbal
requests to the camera to phone in, using phrases such as 'call me'. Even though BabeTV Live aired for four hours and 43 minutes, ACMA maintained that the content was advertising.
This is considerably longer than the usual duration of a televised advertisement. However, the Act does not specify the minimum or maximum duration of content to qualify as advertising or sponsorship material.
To the point of Nine airing explicit content on Extra, one complaint read:
I would have thought it breaches the general licence conditions that state 'licensees will not transmit datacasting content that has been classified as RC or X18+ by the Classification Board, and that R 18+ must be modified or subject to a
restricted access system'. This program is clearly in the 18+ category supported by the fact that you need to be 18+ to participate!
The broadcaster said that BabeLive TV had not been classified because it was live-to-air content -- so the Classification Board could not have seen it before it went to air.
Nine said that BabeLive TV followed MA 15+ guidelines, and had taken steps to ensure this sort of content did not get any racier than material suitable for viewers above the age of 15.
Nine stated its rules for presenters of this sort of content to ACMA:
They must be wearing no less than bra and panties/swimwear/etc. and no see-through underwear or nipple covers.
Breast cleavage may be visible but not the whole breast, no nipples and no nipple shadow.
No pubic hair or nude genital area.
No nude rear.
No actual or implied sexual activity between the Presenters.
May include sexually suggestive touching or position but cannot include the handling, kissing, licking or sucking or sex toys or phallic-like objects.
Nine also said that it had introduced new, stricter rules for presenters, as follows:
The Presenters must not touch each other at any time, including kissing.
The Presenters must not mention, talk about or refer to any sexual acts or sexually [suggestive] acts.
The Presenters must not consume any drink or food on camera.
Even though Nine did not breach any of ACMA's rules, the broadcaster has since stopped airing BabeTV Live.
Australian opposition leader Tony Abbott has floated a suite of online child safety ideas that would include legislation to appoint a censor for social media, which would become answerable to a Children's e-Safety Commissioner charged
with taking a national leadership role in online safety for children.
The proposals stand a very good chance of becoming law as the opposition is well ahead in opinion polls.
The key proposals up for discussion are:
a. The benefits that might flow from establishing an independent agency or Commissioner-led body. such as a 'Children's e-Safety Commissioner.' charged with coordinating a national response to online safety, including the
development of education campaigns and national guidelines for schools, parents, children and internet providers.
b. The role, nature and operation of such an agency or Commissioner if so established, including methods to promote its existence to parents, children and educators.
c. Whether or not any existing agencies are capable of performing a national, coordinated role or what may be needed to allow them to do so.
d. Whether resources available to the Australian Federal Police are adequate and what additional resources may be required to ensure greater enforcement against illegal online activities directed at children.
e. The extent to which existing resources available to the Australian Federal Police are used effectively and efficiently and any options available to re-direct existing resources to address emerging online priorities.
f. The extent and capacity of police and law enforcement agencies to interact with relevant international organisations and whether improved global coordination could deliver better online safety outcomes for children.
Australia's Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has ditched plans for internet blocking and will instead rely on individual ISPs to block child pornography.
In a surprise move the Government has abandoned plans to block online content that it does not like but has struck a deal with telcos to block about 1400 sites on an Interpol blacklist.
Experts welcomed Senator Conroy's decision to abandon the internet blocking.
In 2009 Senator Conroy said the filter was necessary to protect children from illegal online content and would be 100% accurate but critics savaged the Big Brother approach as a threat to free speech, and pointed out that it would
blacklist innocent sites as well.
Opposition spokesman Malcolm Turnbull said it was a humiliating backdown, and said the filter had always been a bad idea . H e told The Australian:
It would never have been effective. It would have just given parents a false sense of security. There is no substitute for parents taking responsibility for their children.
Conroy said in a statement:
Blocking the INTERPOL 'worst of' list meets community expectations and fulfils the government's commitment to preventing Australian internet users from accessing child abuse material online.
I welcome the support of Australia's major ISPs and the Internet Industry Association for taking appropriate steps to meet their lawful obligations. This means that more than 90% of Australians using internet services will have child abuse
material blocked by their ISP.
The Australian Christian Lobby said the Government had broken an election promise. Managing director Jim Wallace said it was a great disappointment and spokeswoman Wendy Francis said a broader filter was necessary because:
it is important to prevent unwanted access to pornography. We must protect our children from forming unhealthy attitudes towards women and sex.
A Canadian horror-comedy, Father's Day has been banned by the Australian Government Censorship Board two days before it was scheduled to screen at the Monster Fest Film Festival at Melbourne's Cinema Nova.
Festival Director and Monster Pictures Manager Neil Foley commented:
This is an outrageous decision. Yes Father's Day is an edgy film, but it is an hilarious and over-the-top spoof that, despite it's gore, is actually one of the sweetest films in the Monster Fest program!"
Father's Day tells the story of a one-eyed vigilante named Ahab who sets out to stop the murderous rampage of a psychopath dubbed "The Father's Day Killer"
The Australian Film Censorship Board explained:
The film is classified RC in accordance with the National Classification Code: films that depict, express or otherwise deal with matters of sex, drug misuse or addiction, crime, cruelty, violence or revolting or abhorrent phenomena in
such a way that they offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults to the extent that they should not be classified.
Father's Day screened earlier this year at Sydney's Night of Horror Film Festival' where it won awards for Best Feature Film and Best Director as well as numerous other awards. The film had been granted a temporary festival
exemption by the Classification Board on the occasion of the Sydney screening.
In the UK the film was passed 18 uncut by the BBFC for strong violence, gore & sex & scenes of sexual violence & torture for: