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Parents should watch what children should not see

The Office of Film and Literature Classification is responsible for classifying films and games that may need a restriction such as R13, R16, or R18.

The Office is also responsible for informing the public about how the film and game censorship law works in New Zealand.

With the school holidays going on (September 25 to October 10) and Christmas not far away, we would like to raise awareness amongst parents and guardians about the ‘R’ Red Classification labels.

A Red ‘R’ label means the film or game has been carefully considered and judged to be injurious to people under the age of the restriction (for example, R13, R16 or R18).

It is illegal for underage children to be shown such a film or supplied such a game, and the penalties could be up to $10,000 or a jail term of up to three months.

Parents should think carefully about what their children watch and play.

Films and games with Green and Yellow labels are usually okay, but they can have scenes or ideas that may not be appropriate for younger children.

It is always a good idea to check reviews and the descriptive note, such as ‘contains violence’ and find out as much as you can about films or games before purchasing or hiring them.

Films and games with Red, Age-Restricted labels are never okay for children, since they would have high levels of sex, horror, crime, cruelty, violence or swearing to which children should not be exposed.

Every year the Classification Office gets complaints from parents that their children have been upset or frightened by things they saw in films or video games.

Such complaints include underage students being shown a violent R18 film at school, children being allowed to play R18 games in someone else’s home and shops showing restricted films in store in the presence of children.

These are all offences under the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act, and parents are right to be concerned about them.

During the current school holidays season, we request you not to let your underage children have access to Red-labelled, Restricted films and games.

For more information on how films and games are classified, please contact the Office of Film and Literature Classification on 0508-236767.

Email: information@censorship.govt.nz

If you think someone is breaking the law, please contact the Censorship Compliance Unit, Department of Internal Affairs on 0800-257887 Email: censorship@dia.govt.nz

Heather Mills is Advisor at the Classification Office based in Wellington. The above article is exclusive to Indian Newslink. ©

The following is an extract of a story that appeared under the title, Video Library fined for non-compliance in our November 1, 2007 issue:

The owner of a central Auckland video library was obliged to pay $3000 as fine for not complying with the censorship requirements.

The Auckland District Court found the defendant guilty of dealing with films that were not rated by the Censorship Compliance Unit of Internal Affairs Department.

The Unit reportedly took the offending library and its director to Court following a complaint received from a customer in July last year.

As per law, all films should be submitted to the Unit for rating and labelling with a ratings sticker prior to sale or hire.

On May 29, 2006, a member of the public paid $21 and received three Indian and one English DVD film from the offending library. It was found that two of the purchased films had not been rated.

The court heard that inspectors of the compliance unit visited the library on June 28, 2006 and found 35 different DVD titles comprising multiple copies, all of which were unlabelled.

They were seized along with pirated copies of six English DVD films.

“The defendant refused to answer questions. He acknowledged that the seized DVDs were available for supply and requested that all questions relating to the inspection and seizure be put in writing,” an official of the unit said.

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