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Internet TV Censorship In New Zealand

OFLC to oversee internet video self rating


A Christchurch Call too far...

New Zealand has been consulting on a new censorship requirements covering Netflix and co and it seems the US internet giants are not impressed

Link Here 21st February 2020
Full story: Internet TV Censorship In New Zealand...OFLC to oversee internet video self rating
US internet giants including Microsoft have raised the spectre of geo-blocking New Zealand if the Government proceeds with a bill for classifying streamed content.

A law requiring film ratings to apply to streaming services like Netflix and Lightbox has raised hackles from some Silicon Valley firms. The bill mandates that certain commercial video-on-demand (CVoD) providers follow the process that broadcasting and film companies follow in classifying content or submit themselves to a self-classification system to be developed by the Chief Censor and the Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC).

But even this self classification option would require reclassifying vast back catalogs of content, some CVoD providers say, and it might be easier for them to pull some content out of New Zealand altogether. There are also worries that streaming services might choose to leave the country rather than deal with a potentially onerous regulatory regime.

Submissions to the Governance and Administration select committee raised concerns about enforceability or whether companies might just pull out. NZME's submission said news sites with paid subscriptions that aired video footage could fall under the classification system .

In its submission to the select committee, Microsoft warned that content it has yet to classify could be geo-blocked. Microsoft observes, however, that while the majority of content it makes available through the Microsoft Movies & TV platform is or may be rated by the studio producing the content, where a small independent studio or filmmaker makes content available on the platform, that content may not have a rating assigned. In that situation, a provider like Microsoft is unlikely to apply to rate the content itself (or itself develop a rating system) as it isn't in the business of reviewing the film's content in order to apply for the correct label. In the result, unobjectionable yet unrated / unlabelled content may, in some cases, not be made available to New Zealand audiences, due to the regulatory threshold associated with rating and labelling.

The Deputy Chief Censor also did not think that providers would skip the New Zealand market because of the proposed changes. The OFLC, in its select committee submission , said that given that this framework is low cost and simple for providers to implement, this would be unlikely to impact services provided to NZ public. We have not seen providers withdraw from other jurisdictions due to regulation. This light-handed regulatory approach will not require providers to make significant investment to supply our relatively small market.



The cost of censorship...

New Zealand Government debates how to apply age ratings to internet TV

Link Here 21st January 2020
Full story: Internet TV Censorship In New Zealand...OFLC to oversee internet video self rating
The New Zealand has been debating how to censor internet TV in the country, and it seems to have resulted in the likes of Netflix being able to self-classify their content.

The initial thought was that New Zealand's film censors at the Office of Film and Literature Classification should be given the job, but the likely expense seems to have swayed opinions.

Internal Affairs Tracey Martin has a bill in select committee which will make New Zealand classification labels like R16 mandatory for commercial on-demand video content such as Netflix, Lightbox, and the iTunes movie store. Mandatory classification will require some sort of fee for the providers which is yet to be established. The current fee is more than $1100 for an unrated film.

Officials from the Department of Internal Affairs in a regulatory impact statement said the mandatory classification presented a risk that content providers may withdraw from the market due to an increased compliance burden should they be required to classify all content via the current process. Officials also noted the risk of content providers would pass on the cost of classification to consumers through higher prices.

Officials noted that an approach that allowed the providers to classify their own content using a method prescribed by the censorship office should mitigate that risk and that no provider had yet threatened to leave the market.

In the end the Government opted to allow providers to self-classify, going against the wishes of the Children's Commissioner and the OFLC which wanted the current process followed.



Censorship on Demand...

New Zealand government to legislate to require age ratings on Internet TV

Link Here 11th September 2019
Full story: Internet TV Censorship In New Zealand...OFLC to oversee internet video self rating

The New Zealand government has decided to legislate to require Internet TV services to provide age ratings using a self rating scheme overseen by the country's film censor.

Movies and shows available through internet television services such as Netflix and Lightbox will need to display content classifications in a similar way to films and shows released to cinemas and on DVD, Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin has announced.

The law change, which the Government plans to introduce to Parliament in November, would also apply to other companies that sell videos on demand, including Stuff Pix.

The tighter rules won't apply to websites designed to let people upload and share videos, so videos on YouTube's main site won't need to display classifications, but videos that YouTube sells through its rental service will.

In a compromise, internet television and video companies will be able to self-classify their content using a rating tool being developed by the Chief Censor, or use their own systems to do that if they first have them accredited by the Classification Office.

The Film and Literature Board of Review will be able to review classifications, as they do now for cinema movies and DVDs.

The Government decided against requiring companies to instead submit videos to the film censor for classification, heeding a Cabinet paper warning that this would result in hold-ups.

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