Melon Farmers Original Version

TV Censorship in Australia

Gordon Ramsay stirs trouSwearing and age ratings

5th November

Update: Queer Censors...

Australian TV censor rants at TV rating for Dante's Cove

The Australian Communications & Media Authority (ACMA) has hit the Nine Network with an enforceable undertaking , its most severe punishment, over a gay sex scene in the television series Dante's Cove.

ACMA was responding to a complaint alleging that a December 9 episode of the show screened at 10.30 at night should have been given an R rating and hence banned from TV.

It had detailed and explicit scenes of oral sex etc and in one scene you got a full frontal view of the man's genitals, wrote the complainant.

ACMA found the offending scene contained significant quantities of, unambiguous visual detail including, thrusting during simulated fellatio , thrusting during simulated intercourse and genital nudity in a sexual context .

The length of the scene and the unambiguous visual detail, including genital nudity, are such that the intimate sexual behaviour is not discreetly implied or discreetly simulated. It therefore cannot be accommodated within the AV classification.

Nine argued in its defence that a flaccid penis should be as acceptable as naked breasts and that the scene did not contain depictions of genital penetration, oral stimulation … genital contact or other forms of explicit sex.

Nine's classifiers will now have to attend training approved by the Director of the Classification Board. However it is hard to determine what impact this will have as the Classifications Board itself assessed the first season of Dante's Cove as MA15+ for DVD for its violence and horror themes — not its sexual content, which the Board deemed would have been acceptable for an M rating by itself.

Episodes of Dante's Cove broadcast over the next two years will now have to be edited and Nine must provide weekly reports to ACMA on any complaints it receives about the show.

Nine already planned to edit season two of Dante's Cove which is R rated on DVD, but the ruling means that it will have to edit season three as well — also deemed MA15+ by the Classifications Board.

Notes: Australian TV Censorship & Ratings

  • Mature Adult (MA)

Suitable for viewing only by persons 15 years or over because of the intensity and/ or frequency of sexual depictions, or coarse language, adult themes or drug use.

Allowed 9:00pm - 5:00am.

  • Adult Violence (AV)

Suitable for viewing only by persons aged 15 years or over. It is unsuitable for MA classification because of the intensity and/or frequency of violence, or because violence is central to the theme.

Allowed 9.30pm and 5.00 am.

  • 18 rated material (R)

Banned at all times on free to air TV. (Allowed on subscription TV)


24th May

Queer Censorship...

Australian TV censor bans Dante's Cove

Australia's TV censor, the Australian Communications and Media Authority, has found that WIN Television breached their code by airing an episode of the program Dante's Cove.

ACMA were not impressed by suggestions that they were targeting depictions of gay sex.

The ACMA is aware of reported comments from the Nine Network that the breach decision was a result of the depiction of homosexual activity, said ACMA Chairman, Chris Chapman.

The ACMA rejects this offensive suggestion that its decision portrays a homophobic approach to application of the TV Classification Guidelines. Under the code the sexual orientation of characters is not considered a factor in deciding whether or not sexual activity depicted in a scene is discreetly implied or discreetly simulated. The breach occurred due to the amount of detail in the scene, which included several depictions of detailed genital nudity, and its duration.

The ACMA is also disappointed that the Nine Network chose to comment publicly on the matter before the ACMA had completed its investigation.

The code states that sexual behaviour may be only discreetly implied or discreetly simulated in programs that are classified at the top level of AV (Adult Violence).  The ACMA found that the program, broadcast on the multi-channel GO!, contained depictions of implied oral sex and simulated sexual intercourse which were not discreet, due to the amount of detail they contained. The ACMA concluded the program was incorrectly classified AV and therefore not suitable to be broadcast on commercial television.

Australia's TV Ratings


  • General (G)
  • Parental Guidance Recommended (PG)
  • Mature (M)

Recommended for viewing only by persons aged 15 years or over because of the matter it contains, or the way the matter is treated.

Allowed weekdays (during school term): 8.30pm - 5.00am and 12.00 noon - 3pm
Allowed weekdays (school holidays) & Weekends: 8.30pm - 5.00am

  • Mature Adult (MA)

Suitable for viewing only by persons 15 years or over because of the intensity and/ or frequency of sexual depictions, or coarse language, adult themes or drug use.

Allowed 9:00pm - 5:00am.

  • Adult Violence (AV)

Suitable for viewing only by persons aged 15 years or over. It is unsuitable for MA classification because of the intensity and/or frequency of violence, or because violence is central to the theme.

Allowed 9.30pm and 5.00 am.

  • 18 rated material (R)

Banned at all times of free to air TV. (Allowed on subscription TV)

Dante's Cove Rated MA (15) on DVD

Based on article from

Was the decision to punish the Nine Network over airing racy same-sex love scenes a case of homophobic double-standard or confusion between two different classification systems?

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) announced on that Nine's digital channel GO! had breached the code of practice by airing an episode of US soap Dante's Cove late last year. The finding sparked calls of homophobia, with Nine's classification chief Richard Lyle saying he was annoyed by the decision given we'd shown exactly the same visuals implying rear entry intercourse between a male and a female .

The commercial TV censorship rules for AV states: Visual depiction of intimate sexual activity may contain detail but must only be implied . According to ACMA's investigation report, the program contained a visual depiction of intimate sexual behaviour , amounting to a breach.

Dante's Cove was already available on DVD in Australia before GO! broadcast the offending episode, which was classified with an MA rating by the Classification Board. Lyle explained to Crikey: They said the violence was accommodated by the MA rating and the sex scenes would have been accommodated by an M rating.

Nine subsequently made the decision to classify Dante's Cove AV in order to account for the program's main advisory concern, violence. In its ruling, ACMA actually states Nine should not have relied on the Classification Board decision: While the reasoning of the Classification Board may be one factor that licensees may consider when determining the proper classification of a program, ultimately the assessment will need to comply with the Television Classification Guidelines.


8th February

Update: Effing Brilliant...

Gordon Ramsay puts failing TV censors to right

The Australian TV censor, ACMA, has agreed a undertaking from The Nine Network to classify Gordon Ramsay's fruity language with a more restrictive rating:

The Nine Network will be required to put in place more rigorous classification procedures for future series of Underbelly —including the forthcoming second series A Tale of Two Cities —under an enforceable undertaking accepted by the Australian Communications and Media Authority. Nine will also reclassify repeat broadcasts of a number of episodes of the original Underbelly series, and implement additional training and reporting processes.

In addition, Nine will classify as MA all episodes of Kitchen Nightmares and other programs substantially featuring Gordon Ramsay, subject to any material change in the content of the programs.

‘This remedial action is the product of extensive discussions with the Nine and WIN networks about action they will take over the next 24 months to ensure that these programs are correctly classified and shown in the appropriate time slot, said Chris Chapman, ACMA Chairman. It is a response to the unacceptably high number of incorrectly classified Underbelly and Ramsay programs broadcast in 2008. It aims to create an improved compliance culture, while giving ACMA an avenue to pursue further remedial action if necessary .

If ACMA subsequently finds that one of the licensees has breached its undertaking—for example, by incorrectly classifying a program covered by the undertaking—ACMA may apply to the Federal Court for an order that the licensee pay ACMA an amount equivalent to the financial benefit the licensee obtained by breaching the undertaking.

In relation to the Underbelly programs Nine and WIN will:

  • reclassify or edit programs found by ACMA to be incorrectly classified
  • provide reports to ACMA on any complaints alleging code breaches with respect to these programs.

In addition, Nine will:

  • conduct an extensive education program for the Underbelly production team to outline the requirements of the M classification
  • develop ‘detailed internal classification guidelines' based on ACMA's findings
  • ensure that classifiers review scripts and assess each episode of the 2009 series, to ensure that the classification requirements are met
  • report to ACMA on compliance with the classification training requirements.

All programs featuring celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay will be classified MA. Nine and WIN will also provide reports to ACMA on any complaints they receive alleging code breaches with respect to these programs.


15th October

Update: TV Censor Sharpens its Knives...

Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares underrated in Australia

Australia's Nine Network has been called to account by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) after chef Gordon Ramsay's language was deemed too strong for its time slot.

The main problem is that Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares goes out with an "M" (Mature) rating when the TV censor says it should have been in the stronger "MA" bracket, which means it screens later at night.

Web also got into trouble for the sexual content in crime show Underbelly .

ACMA has ordered Nine's classification officer Richard Lyle to attend a meeting on Friday to ensure the network complies with censorship rules after receiving complaints about both shows, many from nutters.


7th September

Update: Censorial Nightmare...

ACMA whinges at Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares

ACMA finds that coarse language in Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares exceeded M classification guidelines

The Australian Communications and Media Authority has found that Channel Nine breached the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice on 6 March 2008, by broadcasting Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares – Secret Garden with an incorrect M (Mature) classification. The finding arose out of a complaint about coarse language in the program.

ACMA found that the program contained both aggressive coarse language and very coarse language, neither of which is permitted in M-classified programs. While the code allows frequent coarse language in M-classified programs (where it is particularly important to the storyline or program context) ACMA determined it was not justified in this case.

ACMA concluded that the program should have been classified MA (Mature Audience). Programs which are classified MA are considered suitable for viewing only by persons aged 15 years or over in view of the intensity and/or frequency of coarse language or other material contained in the program. Such programs must be broadcast in the later MA time zone.

‘The code establishes a scale for the level and amount of coarse language that is permissible in programs at each classification level, and requires programs that contain more impactful coarse language to be classified appropriately.

Both the broadcaster and the Nine Network conceded that the program contained very coarse language that is not permissible in M-classified programs, and have confirmed that the very coarse language contained in the program will not be broadcast in any future programs.


24th June

Update: Carry On Swearing...

Long running Australian TV censorship comedy continues

An Australian Senate inquiry into bad language used on the country's TV by British chef Gordon Ramsay has rejected calls for a ban on certain swear words.

The series Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares produced by the celebrity chef in the United States and Britain is a hit in Australia.

The inquiry was initiated by an opposition senator who argued that there is no excuse for gratuitous bad language being broadcast repeatedly.

But a Senate committee reported that they would not recommend broadcast restrictions on Ramsay's choice of swear words because there was insufficient community support for a ban.


20th June

Update: Australia All Fucked Up...

More TV censorship to deal with Gordon Ramsay

British chef Gordon Ramsay has sparked a recommendation to lock-out programs with swearing, and to redefine ratings in Australia.

The British chef, known for his often potty-mouthed approach to work, swore about 80 times during a 40-minute program aired in Australia.

A Liberal MP now wants a parental lock-out system installed on all digital TVs sold in the future, allowing parents to block-out the swearing comment.

I say this not because I believe in censorship... BUT... because I believe strongly that what we broadcast on our televisions has a profound impact on how we conduct ourselves over a period of time, Senator Cory Bernardi said.

However a committee disagreed, saying that swearing was a natural part of growing up and it was up to parents to educate their children.

The committee does not believe it is appropriate to make any recommendation with regard to imposing additional limits [on] the use of the words 'f---' or 'c---' on Australian television, beyond the requirements of the current classification system, the report said.

The Nine Network has now promised that any reference to the word "cunt" would be blocked out altogether.


9th May

Update: Gordon Ramsay Stirs It...

Australian parliament inquires into strong language on TV

Australia's Catholic church has taken a swipe at foul-mouthed British chef Gordon Ramsay and demanded his reality television shows be either taken off air or shown at a later time.

The move comes as Australia's Parliament holds an inquiry into swearing on television, prompted by Ramsay's antics in his series Kitchen Nightmares and Hell's Kitchen.

One episode broadcast recently featured Ramsay using a four-letter expletive more than 80 times, while he also shouts at a chef saying: You French pig.

There can be no excuse for vilification of this sort. We conclude that this episode should never have been aired on Australian television, the Catholic church in the southern city of Adelaide said in a submission to the parliamentary inquiry.

Ramsay's reality programmes are popular ratings drawcards in Australia, but they have also prompted complaints from schools and parent groups who are angry that the shows are broadcast at times when children may be watching television.

Two of the Ramsay programmes air at 8.30pm, while one of the shows, Hell's Kitchen, where contestants compete to win a restaurant, is aired at a later 9.30pm time slot.

Conservative Senator Cory Bernardi initiated a Senate inquiry into swearing after his office received several complaints about Ramsay's programmes.

The inquiry has received more than 50 public submissions, with the overwhelming majority in favour of tighter regulation and calling for the Nine television network, which broadcasts the programmes, to censor Ramsay.

But the Council for Civil Liberties in Australia's largest state of New South Wales said it has no problems with Ramsay's programmes, which regularly attract more than one million viewers: This inquiry is yet another attempt to restrict the freedom of expression of ordinary Australians. Not everyone is offended by coarse language .


21st March

Fucking Wowsers...

Wowser Cory Bernardi whinges at Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares

Australia's Federal Parliament will be asked to investigate swearing on TV after the strong language in Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares .

Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay used the word 'fuck' more than 80 times in an episode shown at 8.30pm last Thursday.

Not so Liberal Cory Bernardi will introduce a motion in the Senate today calling for a study of the effectiveness of the broadcasting code of conduct.

He said it was prompted by Ramsay's use of the word 'cunt' in an episode shown at 9.30pm earlier this month.

This was not a live show, so the station had censorship control. Channel 9 had the opportunity to beep out the word before putting it to air, Senator Bernardi said. The word used is grossly offensive to mainstream Australia. There is no justification for the use of such language in the public arena, particularly by our free-to-air broadcasters. It is concerning that the acceptance of profanity is such that a television station deems it appropriate for such offensive language to be aired, let alone relatively early."

Senator Bernardi said he was not a wowser: I like the show ...BUT... I recoil at the swearing because I think, 'Is this necessary? '

Nine Network chief classification officer Richard Lyle said Ramsay's use of the f-word was indicative of the high-stress environment in restaurant kitchens, and in another context might be bleeped out.

He said this was an example of one arm of Government not talking to the other, as the Office of Film and Literature Classification had rated the episodes M months ago. I was surprised Corey Bernardi wouldn't have checked with the OFLC, which viewed series one and The F-Word (another Ramsay program) and passed both as M with consumer advice of moderate course language.

There were only two or three complaints when it was airing at 9.30pm and a total of 60 since it went to 8.30pm and more people started tuning in."

Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares was the No.1 program of the night last Thursday.

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