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Adult Content on TV Allowed at Any Time. Your Thoughts?

By Yvette Vignando - 11th September 2013

As reported on news.com.au yesterday, the major free-to-air stations are lobbying the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to drop the time zone restrictions for broadcasters – a change that will allow adult-rated shows to be aired at any time of day or night. ACMA is considering the submission as part of its review of broadcasting regulations.

Claiming that the current restrictions on adult content before 8.30pm are “outdated” and put stations like channels Nine, Seven and Ten at a “disadvantage in terms of scheduling strategies”, Free TV (representing the major channels) is arguing that parents in the digital age have many choices for accessing child-friendly content. “Today there are a myriad of options available to parents to regulate and control what their children see, including parental locks, EPGS, on demand content and DVDs as well as two dedicated ad-free children's channels on the ABC,” Free TV’s chief executive, Julie Flynn told News Corp on Monday.

But the Australian Council on Children and Media (ACCM) is urging people to have their say, stating that earlier viewing times of adult-rated shows would expose children to potentially harmful content and restrict family television viewing time. “Families really like to watch programs together, and that's good for families,” said ACCM’s chief executive, Barbara Biggins, on Monday.

Other critics, including the South Australian Government, will tell ACMA it is opposed to any move for adult-only content to be allowed on daytime television across Australia. ABC news reported that Attorney-General, John Rau, criticised the proposal, calling it disgraceful and out of line with community expectations, quoting him as saying, “Parents should expect that, during certain hours of the day, the type of programming that their children might be subjected to is age-appropriate."

So what are Arguments For and Against the Proposal?

For:

  • The digital age allows parents to put parental locks on the TV.
  • There are two ad-free, dedicated children’s channels on ABC.
  • Parents can choose DVDs for their children to watch, so television stations should have more liberty to schedule adult shows.
  • Free-to-air TV should no longer have restricted viewing times if content can be accessed via the internet at any time.

Against:

  • Families expect to be able to turn the TV on before 8.30pm and not be worried about potential harm from adult, violent and sexualised content that their children may accidentally watch.
  • Not all children have parents who can vigilantly monitor what their children are watching on the TV.
  •  Family TV viewing time is a ritual and normal bonding process in our society. Restricting family-friendly shows limits this social bonding opportunity.

The Bigger Picture

In November 2012, reductions to commercial television licence fees meant that broadcasters have new Australian content quotas and additional flexibility to schedule Australian drama, children’s TV and documentaries onto the networks’ digital channels. (Free TV Media Release).

This opens up the opportunity then, to schedule more popular content (that attracts advertisers) onto the primary channels.

There is a large body of international research that reports on media effects on children. happychild has previously reported on children’s exposure to violent media and advertising to children.

What are your opinions on the proposal before our national media authority? Should adult content be allowed on free-to-air TV at any time? How would the proposed change affect you or your family? Please send us your thoughts in the comments field below.

Image from freedigitalphotos.net

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