New Zealand's outgoing chief censor has urged the Government to hurry up and deliver the law change it proposed on
streaming services like Netflix.
Eight months since the Government announced a plan to update broadcasting rules, including making online streaming services subject to classification and content standards, chief censor Andrew Jack has revealed his frustration at what he says has been a
total lack of progress.
Jack spoke to the Herald on Sunday in the final week of his six-year tenure at the top of the classification office and cited concerns around pornography as well as how issues like suicide, rape and sexual violence are being used by entertainment
companies for commercial gain - beyond the reach of regulation. He whinged:
Nothing has actually happened, just nothing. And I have to say that is a source of significant frustration. We know some of this material is causing harm, we know the measures which can improve the situation, but nothing has actually happened.
The only entities winning out of the current situation are the entities selling depictions of sexual violence as entertainment.
In my view, you can't just announce you're going to do something, and not do it.
Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Maggie Barry said the Government intends to refer the bill to a select committee this year. She said:
Work on the bill has been fairly complex. It needs to be future-proofed in an era of rapid technological change, as well as being practical for existing providers and not putting barriers to the entry of new services.
In his final days as chief censor, a role he wanted to continue but was unsuccessful in seeking a third term, Jack said there were other aspects to consider, specifically around pornography and depictions of suicide and sexual violence. Jack said there
was absolutely a concern over pornography becoming an unwelcome form of sex education in young generations, though more research needed to be done to understand what exactly young Kiwis are consuming online.
Jack spoke of complains about the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why:
I can't talk specifically about the series you talked about because the classification office has called that in and is in the process of deciding whether that needs to be subject to a restriction or a warning on it.
Historically as a country we've tried the 'let's not talk about it' approach [to suicide] which has not been successful. We've an appalling rate of youth suicide.
Where those issues are dealt with in a positive way, it's a really good thing. But it's where you get depictions of suicide which are instructional, or two-dimensional or suggest it's a viable option for dealing with some of the tribulations life
sometimes deals at you.
New Zealand film censor surveys feminists, anti-sex work campaigners, police and academics to find that child protection issues re sexual violence in the media can be mitigated by extending film censorship to the internet
New Zealand's film censors of the OFLC are calling for the extension of their remit to internet streaming services such as Lightbox and Netflix.
Currently, apart from some one-off cases, the New Zealand censor has no influence over the labelling and warnings that come with streamed content.
Deputy chief censor Jared Mullen claimed that the public wanted such services too be censored by the OFLC:
Forty-seven percent of New Zealanders are now accessing streaming services regularly - that's at least weekly. So I think it is becoming more a part of New Zealanders lives and parents and young people are telling us the same thing. Their expectations
for content labelling are high, they want more specific information and they want that before they watch the show.
Ninety-two percent of Kiwis who are responsible for choosing entertainment for children actually use the classification and labels, which is an extraordinary number.
Mullen said the participants involved in new research generally agreed that content regulation laws should be extended to cover increasingly popular streaming services. However this is hardly surprising when noting that the surveyed group were feminist
campaigners, anti-sex work campaigners, police and feminist dominated academia.
Mullen noted that the groups were canvassed:
On their views of firstly what they're seeing in terms of sexual violence portrayal in entertainment media, and how they are seeing it effect young people. The concern across all of those groups is the portrayal of sexual violence... is often
unrealistic, it can be sensationalised and is often portraying some really harmful myths about sexual violence which don't accord with reality.
Asked about the legal practicalities of extending film censorship to the internet, Mullen said there were half a dozen pieces of legislation that would need changing:
Relatively easy amendments - there's a range of regulations that would need to change, but other than that, no - it's not difficult.
Amnesty International (AI) has slammed an unprecedented ban by Thailand's military junta on using the internet to communicate with three critics of the monarchy, noting that authorities had hit new lows in curbing free speech.
The new order makes any online interaction with the trio, including contacting them, and following or sharing their social media posts, a jailable offence under an extreme censorship law titled the Computer Crime Act.
The trio are Thai academics Somsak Jeamteerasakul and Pavin Chachavanpongpun, as well as ex-reporter Andrew MacGregor Marshall. They all onw live outside of Thailand.
Josef Benedict, AI's Deputy Director for Southeast Asia said:
The Thai authorities have plunged to new depths in restricting people's freedom of expression. After imprisoning people for what they say both online and offline, and hounding critics into exile, they want to cut people off from each other altogether.
New Zealand's Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne has announced the appointment of David Shanks as the Chief Censor of Film and
Literature for a three-year term. Dunne said:
Mr Shanks is a senior public servant who has held roles as chief legal officer and a number of acting deputy chief executive positions.
His senior management and legal experience in the public sector will be of great benefit to the Classification Office.
I would also like to acknowledge the significant work of outgoing Chief Censor, Dr Andrew Jack and thank him for his passion and commitment over the last six years.
During his time, Dr Jack has overseen a number of complex classification decisions that have involved careful balancing of freedom of expression with avoiding potential harm, and continued to advance the public debate about censorship issues in a modern
The Chief Censor is responsible for protecting New Zealanders from material likely to cause harm while balancing the important right to freedom of expression.
The Office of Film and Literature Classification is an independent Crown entity, established under the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993 to examine and censor publications, including films, videos, books, magazines, sound recordings
and computer files.
Cat Sick Blues is a 2015 Australia horror by Dave Jackson.
Starring Matthew C Vaughan, Shian Denovan and Noah Moon.
When Ted's beloved cat dies, the trauma triggers a terrible mental breakdown. His broken brain prompts him to bring his feline friend back - all he needs is nine human lives. Ted dons vicious deadly cat claw gloves and a creepy cat mask, and goes on a
murderous rampage. As the butchery escalates, a twisted romance blossoms between Ted and Claire, a young woman who has also recently lost her cat in a horrifying incident.
This Australian censorship board classified the film MA 15+ for strong horror violence and coarse language.
However the New Zealand film censors at the OFLC banned the film as objectionable , with the explanation:
The publication is a low-budget horror film from Australia about a demented serial killer who chooses a rape victim as his next target.
Two excisions were required to remove part of a scene (and related content in a behind-the-scenes component) that causes the DVD to tend to promote and support the use of violence to compel a person to submit to sexual conduct, and the infliction of
extreme violence and extreme cruelty under s3(2)(b) and s3(2)(f) of the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993.
If the excisions had been made, the DVD would have been classified R18 due to the high extent and degree of gruesome horror, the infliction of serious physical harm and cruelty, and sexual violence.
The distributor declined to make the excisions, so the DVD is classified as objectionable.
Beauty and the Beast is a 2017 USA family musical romance by Bill Condon.
Starring Emma Watson, Dan Stevens and Luke Evans.
Disney's animated classic takes on a new form, with a widened mythology and an all-star cast. A young prince, imprisoned in the form of a beast, can be freed only by true love. What may be his only opportunity arrives when he meets Belle, the only human
girl to ever visit the castle since it was enchanted.
Malaysian censors ordered cuts to the cinema release of Beauty and the Beast, removing what its creators say is a gay moment. Even after the cuts, the censors imposed a P13 rating (a 13A in UK terms). But according to a media report, Walt Disney
decided anyway to shelve the film's Thursday release in the country.
Malaysian Censorship Board (LPF) chairman Datuk Abdul Halim Abdul Hamid told The Star Online the film has been approved with a P13 parental guidance classification, with a minor cut.
Since 2010 Malaysia's film censorship rules allow the depiction of gay characters, but only if those characters show repentance or are portrayed in a negative light.
Meanwhile the Russian government has opted to give the film a rather unviable 16+ rating, a restrictive rating preventing children below that age from seeing the film.
Vyacheslav Telnov, director of the Culture Ministry's cinema department, told Russian entertainment site KinoPoisk.ru:
We will issue the film distribution license without any problems. The minimum age is 16+.
A 2013 Russian law bans promotion of homosexuality among minors. The law describes homosexuality as non-traditional sexual relations.
Beauty and the Beast opened in Kuwait last week with a PG-13 rating, but by this week, the nation's government-owned cinema company, which runs 11 out of
the 13 theaters in the Persian Gulf country, announced that all screenings had been canceled and offered a full refund to anyone who had purchased a ticket.
One board member of the National Cinema Co. told the Associated Press:
We were requested to stop the screening and further censor the movie for things that were deemed offensive by the Ministry of Information's censorship department.
At issue, apparently, is a scene in which a supporting character, LeFou, is depicted as having a romantic fascination for Gaston and is shown dancing with another man in a ballroom scene said to be three seconds long.
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Malaysia.
The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the sentencing of Ms. Lena Hendry, former Programme Coordinator of the human rights NGO Pusat Komunikasi Masyarakat (KOMAS).
According to the information received, the Kuala Lumpur Magistrate's Court sentenced Ms. Lena Hendry to a fine of MYR 10,000 (about EUR 2,130) or one year in prison for screening the documentary on the Sri Lankan civil war titled No Fire Zone: The
Killing Fields of Sri Lanka four years ago.
On February 21, 2017, following a successful appeal by the Prosecutor against her acquittal in 2015, the Kuala Lumpur Magistrate's Court had found Ms. Lena Hendry guilty of violating Section 6(1)(b) of the Film Censorship Act 2002 for the private
screening of the documentary without prior approval from Malaysia's Film Censorship Board.
The Observatory condemns Ms. Lena Hendry's sentencing, which merely aims at punishing her for her legitimate human rights activities. The Observatory calls upon the Malaysian authorities to ensure that all human rights defenders in Malaysia are able to
carry out their legitimate activities in all circumstances without any hindrance and fear of reprisals.