Networks unhappy over classification limits

Exclusive: Networks split movies in 2 as PG & M to work around an imbalance in classification.

EXCLUSIVE: Commercial networks are frustrated by an uneven playing field in TV classification and resorting to creative ways of sidestepping the rules.

On Saturday Nine screened 2006’s Casino Royale in two halves, with the first half from 7pm rated as PG and the second half from 8:30pm rated M.

7pm Casino Royale – Part One
RPT – HD – WS – 90 – 2006
PG – AV – Action Violence, S1 – Sexual References, L1 – Some Coarse Language
The British agent with a licence to kill, James Bond crashes onto your screens for his biggest adventure yet. This time he must defeat a weapons dealer in a high stakes game of poker, but things are never as they seem. Starring: Daniel Craig, Dame Judi Dench, Eva Green

8:30pm Casino Royale – Part Two
RPT – HD – WS – 90 – 2006 –
M – AV – Action Violence

To comply with current rules, Nine ran credits at the end of the first half ending at a cliffhanger scene with with “To Be Continued.”

Nine has similarly split Lord of the Rings films on its multichannels into two halves.

Under the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice M-rated TV programs can screen from 7:30pm -but M rated movies are still restricted to an 8:30pm start.

Meanwhile M rated content can be screened on ABC and SBS from 7:30pm, including on the new SBS World Movies channel.

While commercial networks are competing with Pay TV and Streaming platforms sources have expressed frustration at an uneven playing field.

Nine’s Chief Classification Officer Richard Lyle tells TV Tonight, “Programming felt it was a way of finding a family friendly movie that we could show earlier that they could watch from 7 or 7:30pm rather than waiting until 8:30pm at night.”

Sources at another broadcaster concurred that the classification system needs changes.

“It is ridiculous the distinction between TV and movies,” they said.

“A lot of TV’s have parental lock features – we should be able to show what we want when we want to compete on a level playing field with Pay & SVOD.”

Free TV is understood to be hopeful of addressing classification concerns with new Minister of Communications Paul Fletcher.

19 Responses

  1. If a film is M rated it ain’t family friendly and therefore shouldn’t be played at 7:30.
    A better option would be play a different film, there is no shortage of films.

  2. While I’d agree the classification timeslots themselves are quite archaic (and the 7.30 M for TV, 8:30 M for films on TV rule downright ludicrous)…

    The outright contempt Nine have for their viewers, splitting films into two and censoring half a movie is totally on them. Schedule content at the appropriate time. The first half of Casino Royale was torn to shreds. The fact that the second half was not didn’t undo that.

  3. i saw it split in two time slots on foxtel epg and thought it must have been an error, i had no idea that movies are treated differently to tv shows , although it think it would have been better for Nine to just show it at 8:30, no matter what you say casino royal is not a family movie, thats why it rated M.

  4. Who still watches movies on fta anyway?!
    It’s bad enough having to sit through ads during a TV show. Having to do it during a movie would drive me crazy. Besides which, most of the movies have been on a thousand times anyway.

  5. It’s very clever of the movie makers to hold back the “adult” content until the 2nd half of the film. These movies have been shown multiple times before in a later time-slot so why the change? Many parents are unable to supervise their kids viewing all the time, so showing M rated material later in the evening is useful.
    I can’t remember the last movie I saw on the ABC and sub-titled films on SBS are a turn-off for many kids.
    If 9 are looking for family-friendly movies they should make more use of their access to Disney’s back catalog which deserves to be shown in HD. Use it before you lose it!

  6. The networks only care about their bottom line and not about what is best for the community. Our M rating is relatively more permissive than similar ratings in other jurisdictions, and while parental controls are present in a lot of TVs and other devices, hell if I know anyone who uses them.

    It wouldn’t take much effort to edit out the strongest moments of violence from these “low end” M rated movies, and it would be even easier to excise the single F words from the hundreds of Hollywood movies that are rated M due to a single use of coarse language.

    What the networks are neglecting to point out is that televisions are played in public places as well, and it is hardly appropriate for M rated content to be playing while a family is out having dinner, for instance. There is no shortage of more appropriate family-friendly content to broadcast, so stop whining.

    1. Agree that the “broad” in broadcasting refers to access that has to be taken into account. But it does seem odd that ABC and SBS can air M rated movies at 7:30 if they want (and do in one case). As indicated we already have M TV shows at 7:30.

      1. Thank you for picking this story up, it’s blatant to say the least! While Nine may indeed make fair arguments, it’s still not the ‘norm’ and nobody else does it yet, not to mention two ratings have been produced for previous airings of their split movies (making the ratings system unfair?) and most of all it’s dumb to pause a movie mid way through, especially at a climactic moment.

        I don’t think the ACMA would like it and it’s almost taking the mickey out of it, even though LOL the network’s help design and tick off on it. Example: as the code clearly states, a program/film must carry that same broadcast (version) and classification the entire way through, hence why Nine have found this hack way of cheating it.

        It’s why when a movie is cut from M to PG at say 8:15pm (just missing the 8:30pm acceptability) must still be that same PG version even if it’s running past 10:30 or 11pm!

      2. Generally, I think the networks have been prudent with the types of M rated content that they air before the generally accepted watershed of 8.30. Shows like Masterchef and The Bachelor (which I’m sure contain their share of bleeps) air with a PG even though they could spare themselves the trouble (and expense) of bleeping them and just air them uncensored, but they are also mindful of the target audience for these sorts of shows.

        The censorship of The Bachelor/ette is arguable redundant though as I would hardly describe them as being family-friendly shows, but being able to air them with a PG and minimise the use of coarse language would allow them to appeal to a broader audience, including those of age that may not want to hear such language.

        1. I think the “bleeping” is done in post production by the producers, rather than network classification. They’d be aware of the Codes and have their instructions by the network bosses so to speak.

          1. I am aware of that. I was just pointing out that in spite of the relaxing of FTA guidelines to allow M rated content at 7.30pm, networks generally continue to play PG content on the primary channels at 7.30pm anyway. Some shows adapt to take advantage of the relaxing of classification guidelines while others maintain the status quo (as is the case with the examples I had pointed out). 10 have the option to Ramsay up Masterchef, for example, but they have made a conscious decision not to at the risk of jeopardising its reputation as a family show.

  7. If SBS and the ABC can have M Rated Movies from 7:30pm then the Commercial Channels should be allowed to as well, as for whenever they like to compete with the streaming services nah. Much like with Foxtel you invite the streaming services into your home, plus with say Netflix for instance you can set separate Profiles up so the maturity level can be set per person/child so there is more control.

  8. The issue is Pay TV most viewers have access to a parental lock free TV does not have this functionality on every TV or set top box so it’s not a even playing field as far as how people watch and technology available to them. They should schedule the movies to be shown in one go. Delaying a movie until 8:30pm is not a big deal. I think the networks are whining about nothing. Scheduling movies by free to air broadcasters is just lazyness they don’t rate like they used to.

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