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TV code of conduct poses danger to children

The President of the NSW Council of Churches has voiced concern that proposed changes to the free-to-air TV code of practice would be harmful to children and would most likely lead to a significant increase in alcohol and gambling advertising during prime time family viewing.

Council President, the Reverend Dr Ross Clifford, said the changes to the code of practice would mean that violence, sexual content, and advertisements for alcohol, gambling and M-rated movies and DVDs would be screened during popular programs that children watched.

“We are disappointed that the new commercial television industry code of conduct fails to restrict alcohol and gambling advertising during sports programming, and requires complainants to show that they have actually viewed the free-to-air programming that is the subject of a complaint,” Dr Clifford said.

Changes to Free TV’s code of practice included allowing M-rated programming to be screened from 7.30pm, allowing MA15+ programs to be screened from 8.30pm, absorbing the AV (adult violence) classification into MA, and eliminating the G rating by introducing a PG rating across all channels all day.

Free-to-air networks would also be allowed to promote movies, DVDs and videos rated M or higher from 7.30pm, and advertising of alcohol and gambling products would be screened earlier in the evening, boosting network revenue.

Dr Clifford said that if the G rating was eliminated from free-to-air TV programming, children would no longer be able to watch television unsupervised.

“The best interests of children need to be put before the commercial self-interest of the television industry, advertisers and marketers. This is a wake up call to Australian families and community groups to make their voice heard before it is too late,” Dr Clifford said.

The closing date for public comment is Friday 3 April 2015. To read the revised code in full and make a submission, go to http://www.freetv.com.au/content_common/pg-code-of-practice.seo

Media contact Rod Benson 0412 421 

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