In the early days • Customs was regulating eth importation of indecent material into New Zealand as early as 1858 • The first censorship legislation was not enacted until 1892. This was the Offensive Publications Act which banned any picture or printed or written matter which was of an indecent, immoral, or obscene nature. • This Act was replaced by the Police Offences Act in 1908 and in 1910 by the Indecent Publications Act which introduced the principle that a publication could be recognised as having literary, scientific or artistic merit. This merit principle has continued, and expanded, in subsequent legislation. It now includes educational, social and cultural merit as well.
Comic concern • The 1910 Act remained in force until the 1954 Indecent Publications Act. • The 1954 Act incorporated new measures to deal with comics, which were a cause of concern at the time. This Act extended the definition of indecency to include undue emphasis on matters of sex, horror, crime, cruelty or violence. In 1961 the Act was amended to include sound recordings.
The Indecent Publications Tribunal • The 1963 Indecent Publications Act established the Indecent Publications Tribunal (IPT). They because the single arbiter of indecency in books, magazines and sound recordings. Other documents, including photographs, still fell under the jurisdiction of the Courts. • The IPT remained in force until replaced by the current Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993 and the Office of Film and Literature Classification
Early Film Censorship • Films because subject to state censorship in 1916 with the passing of the cinematograph-Film Censorship Act. It was under this Act that New Zealand’s first film censor was appointed. • The 1916 Act made it illegal to show any film, which had not first been approved by the government-appointed censor.
The first film classification / ratings system • In the 1920s as system of recommended classifications was introduced. • U - Universal, suitable for all • A – Adults Although films could be restricted to particular audiences, age restrictions were rarely used until the 1950s.
What do you think? • Group Task … • 1)Is it necessary to restrict films or television that show nudity? Sex? What about violence? Bad language? Why? • 2) Are people influenced by what they see on screen? Do you think there’s a link between on-screen violence and anti-social behaviour? • 3) What are the main things you believe censors should take into account when giving a rating to a film?
Video recordings • The use of video recordings increased in the 1980s. • In response to public concerns, the Video Records Act was passed in 1987. The Act established the Video Recordings Authority (VRA), the decision-making equivalent of the film censor, which it charged with classifying videos of a restricted nature. • The Act required all videos for sale or hire to carry rating or classification labels. Rating decisions were made by a labelling body, on the basis of classifications made by the NZ film censor, overseas film censors or on occasions by viewing it themselves. Any video that was a candidate for restriction, cutting or being banned was required to be referred to the VRA. • Concerns over discrepancies between film and video classification led to the establishment in 1987 of the Committee of Inquiry into Pornography. Their findings (released in 1989) recommended the establishment of an Act to unite the two systems. • The Act and VRA remained in force until the 1993 Films, Videos and Publications Classification Act (which did, indeed, unify the old legislation).
So… the system before 1994 • Before 1994 there were three separate censorship Acts and bodies. The old bodies were: • The Chief Censor of Films (operating under the Films Act 1983) • The Video Recordings Authority (operating under the Video Recordings Act 1987) • The Indecent Publications Tribunal (operating under the Indecent Publications Act 1963) • The Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993 (the Act) replaced these with the Office of Film and Literature Classification. This Act took effect in 1994.
Post 1994 • Since 1994, the Office of Film and Literature Classification has classified publications which may require restriction or may be objectionable (banned). The legal definition of publication is wide and covers any type of printed or recorded information. This means the Classification Office can classify films, DVDs, computer files, books, magazines, photos, computer games, cellphone texts and more. The majority of publications classified by the Office are sexually explicit DVDs.
What is banned? A publication is automatically banned if it promotes or supports, or tends to promote or support: • The sexual exploitation of children • Sexual violence or coercion • Torture or extreme violence • Bestiality • Sexual conduct involving a dead person • The use of urine or excrement in sexual activity
What else does the Act cover? The Act also requires the Classification Office to place particular weight on the extent and degree to which, and the manner in which, publications deal with: • Torture / Cruelty / Violence and sexual violence / Sexual conduct with or by children / Degrading, dehumanising or demeaning conduct / Representations of a particular class of person as inherently inferior by reason of a prohibited ground of discrimination Promotion of criminal acts / Exploitation of children's nudity. As well as the content, other things must be taken into account. The Classification Office must also consider: • The dominant effect of the publication as a whole • The impact of the medium in which the publication is presented • The character of the publication, including any merit, value, or importance that the publication has in relation to literary, artistic, social, cultural, educational, scientific or other matters • The type of people or age groups that the publication is intended for or is likely to be made available to • The intended purpose of the publication • Any other relevant circumstances relating to the intended or likely use of the publication.
More info? • Checkout a more detailed history, timelines and case studies on http://www.censor.org.nz/