Australia's TV censor, the Australian Communications and Media Authority, has found that WIN Television breached their code by airing an episode of the program Dante's Cove.
ACMA were not impressed by suggestions that they were targeting depictions of gay sex.
The ACMA is aware of reported comments from the Nine Network that the breach decision was a result of the depiction of homosexual activity, said ACMA Chairman, Chris Chapman.
The ACMA rejects this offensive suggestion that its decision portrays a homophobic approach to application of the TV Classification Guidelines. Under the code the sexual orientation of characters is not considered a factor
in deciding whether or not sexual activity depicted in a scene is discreetly implied or discreetly simulated. The breach occurred due to the amount of detail in the scene, which included several depictions of detailed genital nudity, and its
The ACMA is also disappointed that the Nine Network chose to comment publicly on the matter before the ACMA had completed its investigation.
The code states that sexual behaviour may be only discreetly implied or discreetly simulated in programs that are classified at the top level of AV (Adult Violence). The ACMA found that the program, broadcast on the multi-channel GO!,
contained depictions of implied oral sex and simulated sexual intercourse which were not discreet, due to the amount of detail they contained. The ACMA concluded the program was incorrectly classified AV and therefore not suitable to be broadcast
on commercial television.
Was the decision to punish the Nine Network over airing racy same-sex love scenes a case of homophobic double-standard or confusion between two different classification systems?
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) announced on that Nine's digital channel GO! had breached the code of practice by airing an episode of US soap Dante's Cove late last year. The finding sparked calls of homophobia, with
Nine's classification chief Richard Lyle saying he was annoyed by the decision given we'd shown exactly the same visuals implying rear entry intercourse between a male and a female .
The commercial TV censorship rules for AV states: Visual depiction of intimate sexual activity may contain detail but must only be implied . According to ACMA's investigation report, the program contained a visual depiction of intimate
sexual behaviour , amounting to a breach.
Dante's Cove was already available on DVD in Australia before GO! broadcast the offending episode, which was classified with an MA rating by the Classification Board. Lyle explained to Crikey: They said the violence was accommodated by the MA
rating and the sex scenes would have been accommodated by an M rating.
Nine subsequently made the decision to classify Dante's Cove AV in order to account for the program's main advisory concern, violence. In its ruling, ACMA actually states Nine should not have relied on the Classification Board decision: While
the reasoning of the Classification Board may be one factor that licensees may consider when determining the proper classification of a program, ultimately the assessment will need to comply with the Television Classification Guidelines.
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)