By Dan Barrett
The Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice is set to update its guidelines, with changes made that are said to be reflective of the behavioural changes in how viewers now watch television content. Television lobby group Free TV today welcomed ACMA’s registration of the updated code of practice.
From 1 December 2015, the revised code of practice will now allow for content more adult in nature to be played earlier in the evening. M rated content will be permitted to air from 7:30pm, with MA15+ content allowed to be broadcasted from 8:30pm. In shifting M rated content an hour earlier than is currently permitted, and MA15+ content 30 minutes earlier, the industry have argued that it is keeping in line with the greater ease of access that most viewers now have to more explicit content through competing platforms like Netflix.
Unlike Netflix, Australian television broadcasters are required to meet content obligations as a license requirement to continue broadcasting.
With Nine and Seven both launching simulcast streams of their linear broadcast channels, despite light geolocking restrictions, it does mean time-slot restrictions have increasingly less relevance
Greater flexibility is also being offered to the advertising of alcohol during the day. Currently networks are only permitted the advertisement of alcohol during M and MA15+ classified programs as well as during live sports. While alcohol advertising will still be banned between 5am and 8:30pm under the new M classification time-slot changes, alcohol advertising during weekend daytime hours will now be extended to include general sporting programs.
In February 2015, Free TV opened up public comment on its proposed changes, with a six-week public consultation process. Following the closure of the submission period on Friday 3 April 2015, Free TV submitted the proposed changes to ACMA.
Free TV Media Release
10 November 2015
Free TV welcomes registration of Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice by the ACMA
Free TV Australia today welcomed the Australian Communications and Media Authority (the ACMA)’s registration of the updated Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice (the Code).
The new Code reflects Australia’s contemporary digital media environment and supports a wider range of programming choices for audiences, while ensuring Australian commercial television remains the safest place for viewers to enjoy their favourite TV content.
Free TV Chairman Harold Mitchell AC said: “This Code is a real win for viewers. It will mean a greater variety of programming, while preserving key community safeguards.”
The ACMA registered the revised Code following an extensive public consultation process by Free TV, and consideration of its own research, including the outcomes of the recent Contemporary Community Safeguards Inquiry.
“A number of changes were made to the proposed Code between consultation and registration. Free TV appreciates the constructive and practical approach taken by the ACMA to this process.
“It has resulted in a Code which reflects commercial television’s place in Australia’s modern, diversified media economy, where viewers can access content at any time on any number of devices and platforms,” Mr Mitchell said.
The new Code:
- Contains no change to the amount of advertising on commercial free-to-air television;
- More accurately reflects how Australians are actually consuming television content;
- Contains key community safeguards in the areas of classification, news and current affairs, advertising, and effective complaints-handling;
- Incorporates a range of protections to limit the exposure of children to potentially unsuitable material, including specific rules for content after 7.30pm, and advertising placement restrictions;
- Is simplified, more concise and consumer-friendly; and
- Ensures commercial television remains Australia’s safest and most strongly regulated platform.
Free TV CEO Julie Flynn said: “Viewers can be assured that the updated Code is easy to understand, gives them more choice and delivers on the commitment that free-to-air commercial television remains the safest place to access great content for free.”
The new Code will commence operation from 1 December 2015.
A copy of the revised Code is available from the Free TV Australia website, www.freetv.com.au.