Austar slapped over South Park classification

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.


  1. Brekky,

    Not completely certain, but I believe free to air stations are required to show MA rated programs only after 9pm. Subscription broadcasting stations, such as in this case, can show MA programs at any time of the day.

  2. Not so clued up on the Aussie ratings system, but is it just a case they’d have had to flash up MA rather than M at the beginning to satisfy the watchdog rather than actually air it in a later slot?

  3. “Honestly though who would complain about south park?”

    Australian Christian Lobby? Precisely the sort of people this episode is targeting/mocking. And precisely the sort of people who would try to get it taken off air.

    Not having having a go at Christians, just this particular group (ACL) are extremist.

  4. Charlie Kelly

    On the child pron, a man was charged in Australia for possessing child pron for having a drawing of bart and lisa simpson involved in a sexual act.

    So technically the law is drawn in such a way that fictional depictions such as drawings are counted. Artistic merit may cover south park though.

    Honestly though who would complain about south park? It’s odd that some people are still on the mentality that if something is animated it must automatically be suitable for all ages.

  5. Who actually decided to ring up and complain that a cartoon should be MA and not M? Seriously, I wish I had enough time on my hands like this person. I dont even read classifications of shows, you know what you’re in for most of the time, and if you don’t like something, change the channel.

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