Nine questions ACMA ruling on gay sex scene

2015-07-09_1428EXCLUSIVE: An episode of gay ‘gothic-soap’ Dante’s Cove which aired on GO! and is set to be ruled a breach of the Code of Practice has left the Nine Network wondering if ACMA has ruled unfairly because it simulates male / male sex rather than male / female.

A scene in the first episode in which two males simulate intercourse has been ruled too hot for the MA classification under which it was screened last December.

TV Tonight understands the Australian Communications and Media Authority is about to issue a breach of the Commercial Code of Practice.

But Nine is questioning the decision-making and points out that similar depictions between males and females have been aired without incident.

Nine says Dante’s Cove, produced by US gay cable network Here!, was passed by the Film Classification Board with an MA rating for its violence while the sex scenes were deemed to fall under an M category. On GO! it aired as MAV, the equivalent of the higher classification.

But ACMA is believed to have ruled the sex scene a breach of the MA classification while passing the violence.

Richard Lyle, Nine’s Chief Classification Officer told TV Tonight, “We told them we were relying on the Classifications Board viewing of it and the fact they gave it MA for the violence and noted that the sex scenes could be contained at M. We nevertheless maintained the MA classification, which is AV for television.

“We felt the sex scenes could be contained at MA given the Classification Board said it was contained at M,” says Lyle.

“Film at the M level says sexual activity must be discreetly implied and justified by context. Television at the M level says visual depiction of sexual behaviour may only be implied or simulated in a restrained way. It’s the virtually the same thing with a few more words.”

Lyle says the standard for such sex scenes is to not show detailed genital areas or penetration. While the actors can turn on their best acting skills, visuals have to be restrained.

“You don’t actually show them doing the deed so clearly, that you know they’re not acting.”

But Lyle says other scenes on television have included similar male-female depictions without any breach including an episode of Sex and the City in which Charlotte tried rear-entry sex.

“What annoyed us was we’d shown exactly the same visuals implying rear entry intercourse between a male and a female.”

Lyle believes the ACMA decision has being influenced by the fact the characters were both male.

“The Code doesn’t say anything about the gender of the people participating in the sex scenes as it shouldn’t. It’s completely gender neutral,” he said.

“We said to them ‘You’re overweighting this and bringing, unintentionally, a kind of homophobic judgment into it …because it’s male on male sex you’re judging it differently than if it was male on female.’ They denied it, but I can’t help but feel there is a bias whether they’re aware of it or not.

“We asked if they were sure they weren’t lending more weight to it because they were seeing two men have sex rather than male with female.”

ACMA denied it had influenced their decision.

TV Tonight understands a number of classification officers at Free to Air networks are concerned about an increasing trend where series classified MA by the Classification Board are being found not suitable for television by ACMA.

Dante’s Cove has finished its current run on GO! Lyle says some later cuts were made to the second season due to receiving an R Classification from the Classifications Board.

He also indicated Nine had received just 13 written complaints.

The breach of the Code by ACMA is expected to be issued soon.

59 Comments:

  1. I gotta say I was a little surprised when I saw Dante’s Cove on a FTA network (even in a late night slot) – I would have expected this on a Pay TV channel where more exotic and controversial content is more at home.

    I have no issue with sex scenes, regardless of who is involved in them. I am just surprised that a show like this managed to get onto a channel owned by Nine!!!

  2. If you dint like it dint watch it>We are all adults and can make up our minds. We dont need more homophobic discrimination. Dante”e Cove is on a late time slot and only adults are watching and if it affends as an adult turn it off. Let me and others make that decission, not an unseen bious faceless person.

  3. Has noted above, this is the very same ACMA that Rudd and Conroy want to determine which websites on the Internet we Australians will be permitted to access!

    If this is the way they react to some pretty lame simulated gay sex, how do you think they are going to react to real world websites?

  4. The role of the ACMA is to ensure that all media content is viewed by appropriate audiences, with protection in place for children. It’s role is not to be big brother and censor – despite what the media currently seem to be portraying. They do good work in protecting children from abuse etc.

    The legislation requires that they investage any complaint they receive….and in doing so…they may find that the original rating given by the Classification Board might in fact have been appropriate…and the person who complained is notified accordingly.

    Where complaints are received…they often work with the Classification Board, in making final decisions. It’s not always the ACMA who makes the ruling…it’s often the Classification Board…and the ACMA have to pass that on.

    On the upside…it’s good to know that each and everyone – as part of a healthy democracy – has the opportunity to be heard…and can complain about something that they may see as offensive…but know that it will be taken seriously and investigated. Granted, on the other hand…people also have the right to ‘switch off’ and not look if they are offended. I personally won’t watch shows like Underbelly. That is my choice. If someone out there wants to…that is also their choice….I’m not going to complain about it. Its my democratic right to switch off. but unfortunately…some people also have nothing better to do than take the higher moral ground and complain

    Don’t blame the guys at the ACMA…they are only doing their jobs. Does anyone else get the feeling though that Channel 9 are making this a publicity event out of this…possibly to get higher ratings??

  5. I remember when the word “pi**ed” was censored on this site.

    This site has certainly grown up… I was pretty surprised when you had the Cougar Town “s**t” poll up and even more surprised when I saw this pic up on your front page!

  6. I’ve not seen Dante’s Cove on Go! having bought the DVDs last year. I did find that first scene was a bit ‘much’ but it set the precident for what the rest of the show was going to be like.
    I admit, the show is terrible but I love it! Its my guilty pleasure 🙂
    I loaned the DVDs to a friend last year a few weeks before Go! starting airing it. When we saw the commercials on Go! we were both very very surprised. I thought it was a risky movefor them and thought they would edit it to pieces yet it seems they didnt.

    I say goodon channel 9 for arguing this matter, even if it is just coz they dont want to pay a fine. I’ve seen much worse on TV,during earlier time slots. But I dont complain, I simply look away or change channels (not coz I’m a prude, simply that I’m asexual & find the majority of sexscenes to be boring)

  7. No doubt Dante’s Cove is offensive to some people, but as others have said, it’s properly rated for that. And the comparisons Underbelly are more than apt. Let’s not forget that Underbelly is supposedly based on true stories, meaning that what we’re watching with such admiration is the dramatic reconstruction of real life horrors in which people suffered real life tradegies. Why is that okay but not two guys getting it on? Is it because Underbelly really happened and you can therefore write it off as being historical and educational? Well, newsflash: gay people really happen too! Perhaps Dante’s Cove is not the best example of reality… but the gay sex? I’m afraid so (*sarcasm*). Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but guy-on-guy action is not just the fevered day-dream of perverted fantasy writers. Gay sex – and the depiction of gay sex on TV – does not exist to offend your sensibilities. It’s here, it’s normal, get used to it!

    If I ever have a kid, and if that kid is lacking the free-will and common sense required not to do everything they see on TV, then I’ll certainly be steering them towards (safe) homosexuality over drug-use/dealing/trafficking, prostitution, and cold-blooded murder. Call me crazy!

  8. I think I actually gained a little respect for 9.

    ..and seriously people, we need to stop the conservatism of television.

    I think DC is a crap show but it should be up to each person to decide what they want to watch, not some fundies dictating what Australians can and can’t watch.

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