Austar has been ruled in breach of the Code of Practice by the media watchdog for incorrectly classifying a 2007 episode of South Park earlier this year.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority upheld a complaint that the episode “Cartman Sucks” contained sexual references and suicide themes which required an MA15+ classification but was aired with an M classification in January.
In the episode, Eric Cartman’s sexual orientation is called into question, and a subplot, which focuses on Butters, explores childhood ‘gay conversion’ therapy.
ACMA found the scenes included implied visual and verbal sexual references but that while there were stylised depictions of oral sex, the impact was considered to be strong. More concerningly, visual depictions of suicide, whilst justified by the storyline, were also considered strong in impact. But the M classification only allows for moderate impact.
A complaint that the episode constituted child pornography was not upheld.
Austar acknowledged it had classified it incorrectly, given the Classification Board previously classified the Episode ‘MA15+’ for the Season 11 DVD and thereby breaching the the ASTRA Codes of Practice.
Austar and the Foxtel-owned Comedy Channel have taken steps to avoid classification breaches of the episode in the future and reviewed all other seasons of South Park as well as other initiatives including addressing internal training.