An episode of US gay soap Dante’s Cove which landed Nine in trouble with the media watchdog has now resulted in enforceable action.
In May this year the Australian Communications and Media Authority ruled that episodes of the series on GO! in December 2009 were incorrectly classifed as AV. It claimed scenes of “intimate sexual behaviour” were ruled to be not discreetly simulated or implied.
Nine defended that it classified the drama as AV, a higher level than the MA classification given to the same DVD by the Classification Board, and aired it at 10:30pm, an hour later than the 9:30 watershed timeslot.
ACMA has now accepted enforceable undertakings from Nine and WIN for future broadcasts.
The network will now be required to edit or reclassify all future broadcasts of the series to comply with MA (Mature Audience) or AV (Adult Violence) classifications.
Nine has also agreed to a range of training and reporting activities to ensure that all broadcast material (other than films) that contain sex that is strong in impact now be assessed by at least two classifiers.
The undertakings are for a period of two years.
“These incorrect classifications are of concern to the ACMA as they are particularly obvious examples of breaches under the code for sex and nudity scenes, and should have been easily identified and edited by Nine’s classifiers,” said ACMA Chairman, Chris Chapman. “These undertakings are aimed at creating an improved classifications compliance culture at Nine and better oversighting at WIN, while giving the ACMA an avenue to pursue further remedial action if necessary.”
Nine’s Chief Classifier Richard Lyle told TV Tonight earlier this year, the scenes were similar to other dramas and films that had aired with male and female actors.
“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.”
But Chapman said in May, “The ACMA is aware of reported comments from the Nine Network that the breach decision was a result of the depiction of homosexual activity.
“The ACMA rejects this offensive suggestion that its decision portrays a homophobic approach to application of the TV Classification Guidelines.”