Media Release: 8 May 2008
The Society is not surprised that over half the sample (56%) of more than 600 adult “primary caregivers” of children aged between six and 13, who were interviewed as part of a report into children’s television viewing habits; were unable to identify 8.30 p.m. as the time after which programmes that are NOT suitable for children are shown on television The report containing this statistic entitled Seen and Heard, dated 6 May 2008, was commissioned by the BSA – the Broadcasting Standards Authority.
In response, the Families Commission issued a media release, calling for the 8.30 p.m. “watershed time” – to be more widely publicised by broadcasters. But is this an adequate response if the Commission is truly concerned about certain so-called “adult-only” material – pornography, sexual violence, graphic violence, blasphemy and obscenity – being viewed, or potentially viewed, by tens of thousands of our country’s children and young persons every night of the year from 8.30 p.m. onwards? Society president John Mills says the Society says “it is a totally inadequate response” and notes “we have written to the Chief Commissioner, Dr Rajen Prasad, pointing this out and called for more effective solutions from him to the problem of children and young persons being exposed to unsuitable, morally corrosive and corrupting television content.”
The Society, together with Media Matters (formerly called Viewers for Television Excellence or VoTE), has been calling for some years for the “watershed time” to be moved from 8.30 p.m. to 9.30 p.m. AND for this time to be more widely and regularly publicised by all television broadcasters. These organisations and many others, also want the BSA to deal properly with complaints over standards of taste and decency and enforce proper standards. Such calls appear to have fallen on deaf ears and have certainly not been supported by Families Commission with its 40 full-time equivalent staff funded by tax-payers.
VoTE and SPCS have pointed out that New Zealand has one of the earliest “watershed times” among OECD countries and a move, at least to 9 p.m., if not 9.30 p.m., would be a positive move in the right direction. “It would help safeguard our children and young persons from exposure to the corrupting, pernicious and morally corrosive influence of television violence, sleazy pornography and repetitive obscenity and profanity,” says Mr Mills. “Of course the change in the watershed time needs to be backed up with good communication to caregivers from responsible broadcasters and government agencies,” he adds.
Society executive director David Lane says…
“It is well-known to informed viewers that offensive and objectionable content, including obscenity, gratuitous sexually explicit material, sexual violence, etc. all regularly feature on free-to-air and paid television programmes from 8.30 p.m to 9.30 p.m. This so-called exclusive “adults-only” time slot is a farce as it is a time period during which a significant number, if not the majority of younger children aged from 11 to 13 years and young persons aged 14 to 17 years, are still up and actively watching TV or engaged in other activities in rooms where a TV is operating. Research commissioned by the BSA has been published that shows that the vast majority of children and young persons are indeed accessing television programmes during this time period when so-called “Adult only content” is screening,”
“The Society believes that the link between the repetitive, addictive and compulsive viewing by children and young persons of objectionable gratuitous content, is morally corrosive and its effect upon a number of vulnerable individuals, leads to violence, criminal activity, sexual dysfunctions etc” Lane says.
“The Ministry of Culture and Heritage has identified New Zealand as having the least regulated broadcasting system in the world,” says Mills “and David Lane has been responsible for putting together a Society submission on proposed changes to the regulatory environment to deal with changing digital media formats etc, which has been submitted to the Ministry.