media release

February 8, 2010

ACMA out of touch on TV standards

The Australian Communication and Media Authority's (ACMA) assertions in Senate Estimates this afternoon that television standards had not been weakened under the new code of practice defy belief, according to the Australian Christian Lobby.

Free TV Australia's Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice, approved just days before Christmas, removed the requirement for sex and nudity to be "discreetly" implied in MA programs and allows MA rated material to be advertised during children's viewing times.

"This means programs like Californication can now be promoted while kids are watching television after school and in the early evening," ACL Managing Director Jim Wallace said.

Under questioning from Queensland Senator Ron Boswell, the ACMA's Chris Chapman repeatedly asserted there had been no weakening of the code.

"How anyone can claim that allowing children's interest to be aroused in programs like Californication is not a weakening of the code defies belief," Mr Wallace said.

"The public outcry following the draft code's release last year clearly showed Australians want better TV standards, not weaker ones.

"In approving the new code, which only comes up for review every three years, the ACMA has shown contempt for the wishes of parents by watering down TV standards.

"They have also removed the requirement for certain hours of the day to be solely devoted to G rated programming on the new digital multi-channels, claiming parents can use locking systems which at this stage are not mandatory for digital television or set top boxes.

"Sadly the ACMA is all too ready to rubber stamp the industry's code which in effect means Dracula is in charge of the blood bank," Mr Wallace said.

"The system of the ACMA's oversight of commercial television standards is broken and its bureaucrats' assertions today that the code has not been watered down reinforces just how out of touch the organisation is with the wishes of parents who are concerned with television standards," Mr Wallace said.