Censorship refers to the prohibition of any parts of books, films, television, radio or news that are considered too obscene to be made public. In Australia, the Commonwealth Government has the power to make laws when it comes to imported material, but not locally produced material. Australian made TV/radio etc. is left to the state governments in terms of what is censored and what is not.
Different works have their own classification systems. Films, computer games and publications are decided by the Classification Board. TV, Radio and internet are covered by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA). This can, however, refer online content to the Classification Board. There is also a voluntary labelling guideline for CD’s manufactured in Australia which is managed by the Australian Record Industry Association (ARIA).
The classification board needs to adhere to certain principles; adults have the right to read, hear and see what they want, the decision is theirs. Whereas minors should be protected from content that may disturb them. There are certain topics in films or computer games that will likely mean it is refused classification; these topics are anything that encourages terrorist action or anything that promotes crime and violence. Anything that shows or encourages sexual violence is also likely to be refused classification. The priority of classification is to prevent people from seeing things they don’t wish to see and to pre-warn them of any potentially offensive content.
The ACMA was established in 2005 to create a classification system for TV, radio and internet media. For commercial TV networks, the day is split into classification zones with only suitable material for that time being shown. The classifications for each time slot are similar to those used for film, using G, PG, M and MA15+. Shows rated G (general) or PG (parental guidance recommended) can be aired at any time. Anything with the rating of M (mature content) can be shown between 12pm-3pm and again from 7:30pm onwards. MA15+ can only be aired from 8:30 onwards. Its obvious that the times are designed so that young children are likely to be at school or in bed when anything with mature themes is played. TV hosts must also stick to these classification zones.
It’s not just hosts on TV that have guidelines though, commercial radio presenters have certain rules they have to follow; these are known as the Commercial Radio Codes of Practice. These laws cover what topics can and can’t be discussed and what language is acceptable. Anything that breaks these laws will not be broadcast.
Censorship laws aren’t designed to inhibit us from making our own decisions, but to protect us and our children from seeing things we don’t wish to see or hear. So, we should all say thank you to censorship, for making our world a safer place!