Dante’s Cove breaches Code of Practice

The Nine Network has been found to have breached the Code of Practice after ACMA ruled an episode of Dante’s Cove was incorrectly classified.

The episode of the gay-themed US soap aired on GO! in December.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority has found that Nine Network affiliate WIN Television Qld Pty Ltd (RTQ) incorrectly classified an episode as AV.

The episode which ran at 10:30pm carried consumer advice of “Supernatural Themes”, “Strong Sex Scenes” and “Strong Violence.”

In March Nine’s Chief Classifier Richard Lyle exclusively told TV Tonight the episode had been 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.

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

At the time Lyle questioned whether the ACMA findings were being unfairly applied to scenes of homosexual content.

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

“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.

Today ACMA denied its decision was based on gender or sexuality and states that Film Classification Guidelines do not always comply with Television Classification Guidelines.

It says the episode contained depictions of implied oral sex and simulated sexual intercourse which were not discreet, due to the amount of detail they contained.

“The ACMA is aware of reported comments from the Nine Network that the breach decision was a result of the depiction of homosexual activity,” said ACMA Chairman, Chris Chapman.

“The ACMA rejects this offensive suggestion that its decision portrays a homophobic approach to application of the TV Classification Guidelines.

“Under the code the sexual orientation of characters is not considered a factor in deciding whether or not sexual activity depicted in a scene is discreetly implied or discreetly simulated. The breach occurred due to the amount of detail in the scene—which included several depictions of detailed genital nudity—and its duration.

“The ACMA is also disappointed that the Nine Network chose to comment publicly on the matter before the ACMA had completed its investigation. That is an unusual approach within the broadcasting sector’s co-regulatory framework.”

ACMA is also investigating a second complaint pertaining to another episode of Dante’s Cove. It will outline its action for the breach once the second investigation has been completed.

Nine says it received just 13 written complaints for Dante’s Cove.

Nine questions ACMA ruling on gay sex scene (Contains adult content).


  1. bring back dantes cove i was bullied for being gay and im sick of it people need to see gay people on tv so they can get used to it because were not going anywhere Bring back Dante’s Cove.

  2. Someone BBBA

    As ACMA state in their report:

    “As the program was broadcast on 7 December 2009, the complaint has been considered against the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice 2004, which applied to commercial television broadcasting licences at the time of broadcast.”

    Under this old code visual depictions of sexual behaviour had to be discreet. However, the new code has removed this stupid provision, and now states that the impact of such depictions cannot exceed strong. This should effectively ensure that a sex scene rated M or MA by the Classification Board will not breech the code if it was broadcast from 2010 onwards. I haven’t read the whole report, but if the only reason ACMA ruled against this episode was that the sex scenes weren’t discreet, GO! should be able to repeat the episode right now and not get in any trouble.

  3. Looking back, TV had to pop its cherry with “lesbian kisses”; maybe the next taboo frontier to cross is gay male sex.

    What offends me most is, like others have commented, shows showing graphic violence and gore is okay, but sex is not. I don’t mind the simulated gore and violence, but give me the sex too.

  4. snapper jack

    Double standards….and yes I agree with Darren….talk about a donkey! Im a lesbian and even I was impressed. My straight girlfriends started watching the show after I raved about the scene and never missed it. they reckon was the best eye candy on tv and a nice change from women being the target of lust. Underbooby can get away with blue murder but god forbid 2 guys get it on

  5. To provide consistency for consumers, all forms of visual media were asked to adopt the Classification Board’s symbols for programs classified G, PG, M & MA etc. A ruling by ACMA that MA on DVD does not necessarily mean its also suitable for Television, unless its broadcast as a ‘Film’ puts a question mark over ever seeing True Blood, Spartacus, US Skins, the Hard times of R.J. Berger and even further episodes of Weeds on FTA TV.

  6. i wonder how many of the 13 people that complained actually watched the show. I wouldnt be surprised if it was a church group of something…. Was Fred Nile one of the complaints?

    Go! is aimed at a younger audience…. how many of that audience could be bothered writing a letter to a TV Network?

    Im always astonished about complains about TV shows…. if you dont like the show dont watch it. I for one enjoyed it and have it on DVD.

  7. No_Netcensor

    If ACMA can’t even apply the same set of classification standards between Film and Television content, then how the hell does Conroy get away with saying he simply wants to have internet content ‘brought into line’ with the same classification rules that apply to all other media in Australia?

    Which set of (arbitrary and variable) classification rules??

  8. “ACMA … states that Film Classification Guidelines do not always comply with Television Classification Guidelines.” This finally explains why some movies are classified as G or PG when they are shown in cinemas, but when they are aired on TV they are classified as PG or M.

    • Andrew, ACMA has ruled the scenes too hot for AV, meaning they should have been edited if GO! wanted to run the ep. One of Nine’s points was that it the Film Classification Board gave it an ok for M for DVD.

  9. Top rated cop shows like CSI and NCIS have for years been showing autopsies
    in all their gruesome detail and yet no one seems to mind. 13 people complain
    about a d**k in a gay sex scene and ACMA is called in. Meanwhile Underbelly
    flashes T&A all over the screen in hetro scenes…makes you wonder.

  10. The wowsers win again.

    What I find quite amusing is the depiction of the scene in the findings….having watched the episode in question, I must say that it was the biggest “flaccid penis” that I have ever seen. Wow.

  11. Ps The other night on NCIS a divers body was 1/2 decomposed … Chest open … no face left … but there was still a little wowel covering the sensitive area … had to laugh …

  12. We can see all number of bodies on television as long as they are dismembered/ blown up/ chest open for dissections blood oozing and maggots crawling yet the sight of a simple male member seems to cause all kinds of screams …. I just don’t understand it …

  13. i find this hardly surprising, how often do networks get away with non-descrete rear entry sex hetero or homosexual at all, let alone under M. i know they did in sex and the city but under MA and before the code was revised.

  14. Um…

    They got in trouble because they classified an MA episode as AV? Who cares? Shouldnt they care if it was the other way around?

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