Review recommends ACMA oversees Classifications

A Review into the Australian Communications and Media Authority has recommended the regulator take over the functions of the Classification Board and Classification Review Board Scheme.

It found content classification in Australia is highly fragmented and responsibility for regulation is split across the Classification Board, the ACMA, the Children’s eSafety Commissioner and state and territory law enforcement bodies.

While films in cinemas and on DVD are classified by the Classification Board, the same content on television is classified under ACMA. Online films and computer games fall under the responsibility of both the Classification Board and the Children’s eSafety Commissioner.

The Review has concluded that the ACMA would be well placed to administer a harmonised
classification scheme, including associated industry self-classification arrangements and
electronic classification tools.

This would unite online and offline classification functions within a modernised classification scheme for the benefit of consumers and industry.

While the Classification Board noted in its submission that the community values its independence and impartiality and that its members are broadly representative of the Australian community the
Review said ACMA makes decisions independently of government and provides options for incorporating community views in its decision-making.

The Review also recommended splitting the Chair and Chief Executive Roles to allow the Chair to focus on strategic direction with the CEO responsible for administration and operational performance.


  1. I’ve long held that ratings should be nothing more than guidelines than hold legal water. You can’t stop teenagers watching shows or films anymore in the internet age.

    And the fact video games are still getting knocked back shows we haven’t progressed much at all.

  2. Classification does undergo generational changes from time to time, the use of coarse language during the evening will now barely raise an eyebrow and is not bleeped during sports broadcasts. American cable TV is not far off using real sexual imagery which European TV and cinema has exhibited for some years now. Treating adults like adults is not rocket science after all.

  3. This is somewhat related but I find inconsistencies between a classification of a show when it’s broadcast and when it’s released on DVD or digital. For example, Nine has The Big Bang Theory rated PG on broadcast but it is rated M when released in DVD or on digital. Gotham (season 1) was rated AV18+ on (a 10:30pm) broadcast on 9Go but the rated MA15+ on DVD/digital. Is there a reason for this, like so they can air it on an earlier timeslot if it’s rated lower (like Big Bang Theory)? What’s the point of the rating being higher on broadcast and lower on DVD (like Gotham season 1)?

    • James-original

      Big Bang Theory has some episodes that are M classified within a season but not all episodes are.
      When buying a season on DVD it’s classified to the highest episode classification.
      AV was dropped from TV classification, now MA is the highest level. These have to air at 9pm or later.

  4. I would say a lot of this has to do with inconsistencies amongst the networks’ classification officers.

    Still lots of complaints to the ACMA.

    One example is from March (publically available) – an ACMA investigation. 7flix broadcasted the 2001 movie “Hannibal” and a consumer said the film is R18+ and the level of violence was too high. Seven argued. ACMA argued. There was like 3 seperate classifications by the Classification Board for it.

    A mess.

  5. Well, yes, of course. Because it’s easier to starve one regulatory body than several, and ACMA have gone through this sort of thing before (when the government of the day combined the regulatory ABA & the licensing/compliance ACA into the ACMA, and other earlier mergers e.g. ABT & NBA into ABA, etc).

    Not saying there shouldn’t be changes; there should. But throwing all media regulatory, management, licencing, & compliance into one entity, removing its ability to independently set standards in favour of simply rubber-stamping what the industry wants, then de-funding its ability to do even that job properly, is not a sane thing to do. That’s how we got where we are today…

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