Foxtel has been forced to change its approach to classifications after the Australian Communications and Media Authority discovered the subscription television provider was broadcasting sexual content and nudity with an R18+ classification.
Foxtel Cable Television has agreed to put in place more rigorous classification procedures under an enforceable undertaking accepted by the ACMA, after the watchdog discovered various breaches.
The enforceable undertaking was offered to the ACMA in response to ACMA investigations into episodes of programs Cathouse, The Wonderful World of Sex and Naked Wild On.
These programs were found to contain sexual content and nudity that did not come under the MA15+ classification, which therefore breached the ASTRA Subscription Television Code of Practice 2007.
These programs were classified R18+ and under the Code any content higher than MA15+ cannot be broadcasted on subscription TV.
“The ACMA considers classification-related breaches which are at the upper threshold of what may be broadcast on Australian television as particularly serious. While recognising the challenges faced by Foxtel in providing a large number of channels to consumers, the ACMA has particular concerns about the contractual arrangements licensees have in place for the classification of programming,” said Chris Chapman, chairman of the ACMA.
The undertaking requires Foxtel to develop, implement and maintain a classification compliance program strategy to deal with content that contains the classifiable elements of sex and nudity.
Chapman emphasised that Foxtel has been very helpful in resolving the issue.
“By offering the ACMA an enforceable undertaking, Foxtel has acknowledged the seriousness of the classification breach findings and taken a responsible approach with a view to ensuring that breaches of this nature do not occur again,” Chapman said.
“While many aspects of the undertaking are formal codification of initiatives recently instituted by Foxtel in response to better understandings gleaned by it through the investigations, Foxtel’s professional and thoughtful approach is acknowledged. In particular, the embedding of the Classification Compliance Policy in third-party channel agreements is a noteworthy initiative.”