Austar has given an enforceable undertaking to the Australian Communications and Media Authority to ensure that it does not broadcast content rated higher than MA15+.
Earlier this year ACMA ruled that two episodes of Cathouse, an HBO reality series on a Nevada brothel, breached the ASTRA Subscription Television Codes of Practice.
The episodes contained sexual content and nudity deemed higher than the MA15+ classification. Content higher than MA15+ can only be shown on narrowcasting such as the Adult Channel with lockout.
Austar must now review all episodes of Cathouse prior to broadcast, attend annual classification training conducted by the Classification Board and include a more robust classification and complaints-handling provisions in dealing with channels.
ACMA Chairman Chris Chapman said, “Consistent with previous ACMA guidance, the ACMA considers classification-related breaches that are at the upper threshold of what may be broadcast on Australian television as particularly serious.
“Licensees of broadcasting services must have effective procedures in place for the correct classification of programs in accordance with the relevant code of practice and, if necessary, programs must be modified before they are broadcast. In offering this undertaking, Austar is acknowledging the community sensitivity around adult content and its responsibility to ensure that high-end content is correctly classified. The embedding of classification requirements in third-party channel agreements is a noteworthy initiative.”
Following the same breach this year Foxtel agreed to employ a full-time in-house classifier.
Channel Nine Network and WIN Corporation licensees also gave an enforceable undertaking to ACMA over the classification of Underbelly and Gordon Ramsay programs.