Film And Content Classification State In T&T And Intl Trends 10 12 2009


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A review of the existing film classification scheme in T&T...PArt of a wider consultation to revise the framework

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Film And Content Classification State In T&T And Intl Trends 10 12 2009

  1. 1. T H E C U R R E N T S T A T E I N T R I N I D A D A N D T O B A G O A N D A R E V I E W O F I N T E R N A T I O N A L T R E N D S Film and New Media Content Classification December 2009 Ministry of Information Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago
  2. 2. Objective  To provide a brief overview of the context of film and content classification in Trinidad and Tobago today.  To provide a general overview of international practices with regard to content classification, and the governance frameworks that support them
  3. 3. Why Content Classification  The general policy posture of market facilitating regulatory frameworks suggests a move towards systems which encourage market forces determining effective capital investment  In the paradigm of content-based product, the effectiveness of said market forces is dependent on appropriate information to the consumer  Content classification is a market indicator of both supply and demand sides of the sector:  Informing the market of content to guide purchasing choices;  Guiding the producer to self-regulation of content in the context of optimising returns on content product.
  4. 4. Content Classification in Trinidad and Tobago today.  For Film, governed by the statutory framework established by the Cinematograph Act (1936) and supporting Regulations  For Broadcasting, while there is no explicit framework for the classification or censorship, there is some oversight provided by the Telecommunications Authority via the Broadcast Code once promulgated (Section 79 of the Telecommunications Act, 2001)  For other forms of material not published in a book or magazine, there is no classification oversight.
  5. 5. Overview of the Cinematograph Act (1936)  Establishes the Film Censors’ Board and empowers that body to authorise and censor film product to be exhibited in Trinidad and Tobago  “Film” referred to “British film” in particular, creating lacuna where:  the Board has no oversight of exhibitions facilitated by video cassette or DVD;  the Board has no statutory oversight of films not produced either by a “British Company” or otherwise in the Commonwealth; and  the Board has no statutory oversight of film product that is not to be exhibited in an approved, licensed theatre  Provisions referred to particular considerations of cinematography technology of the period  A “feature film” determined by the physical length (in feet) of film associated with the product; and  Substantial concern regarding the inflammatory nature of film at the time
  6. 6. Overview of the Cinematograph Act (1936)  The focus of the statutory framework is the censorship of film product through either:  The non-authorisation to exhibit a film; or  The editing, through physical removal of specified lengths of the film for authorisation This is notable as there seemed to be no objective standard through which this power was to be wielded by the Board – censorship of product was purely subjective with little recourse for the producer/ distributor of the film.  Classification scheme is thus not predictable to the producer/ distributor of the film product
  7. 7. Overview of the Cinematograph Act (1936)  The framework established a Licensing Authority for Theatres and Exhibitors – the Magistrate for the district in which the theatre is located:  While competent in the very limited context of the exhibition theatre, if the framework is expanded beyond this limited context would this arrangement still be appropriate?  Due consideration should also be given to the stated backlog of matters in the Magistrates Court
  8. 8. Problem Definition statements “Is the current framework for film classification relevant in the 21st Century, with the mix of media channels through which the variety of content types is distributed?” “Does the current framework support the development of a domestic film sector, as envisaged by the GoRTT?” “Are there other forms of content products which should be covered in a revised administrative framework?”
  9. 9. Review of International Best Practices  Most are aware of the American Motion Picture Content Classification Framework established by the MPAA, an industry- established body  Relevant because of the volume of motion picture content coming from the US  There must be cognisance of the growing segment of non-US film product in the market place  There must also be cognisance of whether films (motion pictures) are the only form of content warranting classification.  In the case of this review, in the main, trends across the Commonwealth are considered, including statutory powers and governance frameworks. Jurisdictions reviewed include:  United Kingdom (the British Board of Film Classification)  Australia (Classification and Classification Review Boards)  New Zealand (Office of Film and Literature Classification)
  10. 10. Review of International Trends: The United Kingdom  Statutory powers on the Classification of film remains with the local government councils, but these defer by and large to classifications provided by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC)  BBFC was established as the British Board of Film Censors in 1912 by the UK’s film industry, the Board’s initial role was to bring a degree of uniformity to the classification of film across Britain.  By virtue of the Video Recording Act, 1984, the President and Vice President of the BBFC were designated the authority through which video recordings offered for sale or hire commercially is to be classified as passing the test of “suitable for viewing in the home.”  There is no general TV rating system as the television regulator, Ofcom, sets clear boundaries for what can be shown and when. The most obvious example of this is in the watershed, the time after which more explicit content (15, 18) can be shown. On main broadcast television channels this is 9pm, however on certain satellite channels it is 8pm
  11. 11. Review of International Trends: The United Kingdom  Role of the BBFC “[a] highly expert and experienced regulator of the moving image (especially film, video/DVD and video games), and … a service provider for new and developing media,” BBFC defines its roles as:  Provision of information to the public that empowers them to make appropriate viewing decisions for themselves and those in their care…with a view to assisting in protection of vulnerable viewers and society from the effects of viewing potentially harmful or unsuitable content while respecting adult freedom of choice.  provision to the media industries with the security and confidence of cost-effective, publicly trusted regulation and help to protect providers of moving image content from inadvertent breaches of UK law, and  the assistance to Trading Standards officers in their enforcement role  Recent developments: Government of UK has opted to move away from BBFC Classification of electronic games, instead preferring the European standard “PEGI” There are proposals contained in a Private Member’s Bill of Parliament to bring the BBFC under greater oversight of Parliament
  12. 12. Review of International Trends: The United Kingdom Films may receive a different rating when released on DVD/video to that at the cinema. It is not unusual for certain films to be refused classification, effectively banning them from sale or exhibition in the UK. Any media which has been banned receives an 'R' certificate (Rejected). *all logos and designs are trademarked to the respective organisations
  13. 13. Review of International Trends: Australia  The Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 establishes the Classification Board and the Classification Review Board  The Classification Operations Branch of the Attorney-General’s Department provides administrative support to both the Classification Board and Classification Review Board  The Classification Act also sets out:  classification types  statutory requirements for applications for classification  powers and functions of the Classification Board and Classification Review Board  processes for industry assessment of certain material  provisions for the approval of advertisements for certain classified products  statutory criteria for review of classification decisions  provisions pertaining to reclassification, and  provisions pertaining to prohibited material in prescribed areas.
  14. 14. Review of International Trends: Australia Other functions The advertising exemption scheme  Despite State and Territory legislation prohibiting the advertising of unclassified films, the Act allows the Board to grant a limited number of cinema releases advertising exemption each calendar year. Exemptions to show unclassified films  Under State and Territory enforcement legislation, an organisation may make an application to show an unclassified film at a film festival or a special event. Exemptions are granted in accordance with the relevant Film Festival guidelines in each jurisdiction. Industry Assessors  Under the Classification Act, the Director may authorise a person who has completed the required training to assess the likely classification of a computer game. If a computer game is likely to be classified G, PG or M, authorised assessors can submit an application for the game, accompanied by a recommended classification and consumer advice.
  15. 15. Review of International Trends: Australia  Other Functions Australian Communications and Media Authority  The Classification Board does not classify material that is broadcast on radio or television networks. The Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (the BSA) establishes a co-regulatory scheme for broadcast services including radio and television relying on codes of practice developed by industry and registered with the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).  Online content is regulated via the BSA, and administered by the ACMA. If ACMA receives a valid complaint about Australian-hosted online content, or discovers potential prohibited content on its own initiative, ACMA may submit the material to the Classification Board for classification.
  16. 16. Review of International Trends: Australia *all logos and designs are trademarked to the respective organisations
  17. 17. Review of International Trends: New Zealand  the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993 (the Classification Act) establishes The Office of Film and Literature Classification (the Classification Office)  The Classification Office is an independent Crown entity that replaced the Chief Censor of Films, the Indecent Publications Tribunal and the Video Recordings Authority.  Key services and areas of work include:  production of classification decisions  production of summary list of decisions  dissemination of information  managing and responding to inquiries and complaints  production of research papers and findings
  18. 18. Review of International Trends: New Zealand Under New Zealand law it is possible for a film to get an unrestricted rating if it has been given an unrestricted rating by either the Office of Film and Literature Classification (Australia) or, if the Australian Board has not reviewed it, the British Board of Film Classification (UK), and it is not likely to be restricted under New Zealand censorship law. If a film has received a restricted rating (of at least 15+) in either Australia or the UK it must be classified by the OFLC *all logos and designs are trademarked to the respective organisations
  19. 19. Trends in the Classification of new media  Globally, there are two major software/ games classification schemes:  Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) a self-regulatory organization that assigns age and content ratings, enforces industry-adopted advertising guidelines, and ensures responsible online privacy principles for computer and video games and other entertainment software in Canada and the United States; and  Pan European Game Information (PEGI) is a European video game content rating system developed by the Interactive Software Federation of Europe (ISFE) which came into use in 2003 and has since replaced many national age rating systems with a single European system  Despite this, there are jurisdictions which offer classification of games and software within their markets harmonised to other classification frameworks– independent of these . Examples include:  Portugal  Brazil
  20. 20. Trends in the Classification of new media *all logos and designs are trademarked to the respective organisations
  21. 21. Conclusion  The presentation provides  guidance on the possible shortcomings of the existing statutory framework – the Cinematograph Act (1936)  Identifies comparative frameworks within the Commonwealth that:  Demonstrates progressive movement in governance from an industry-body to an independent statutory agency  Demonstrates cross-recognition of motion picture classification  Demonstrates developments in the classification of new media products
  22. 22. Thank You Kwesi PRESCOD Prescod Associates & Co. PO Box 3228 Petit Valley TRINIDAD & TOBAGO Website: e-mail: Tel: +1 868 633 2951 Mobile: +1 868 688 4380 Fax: +1 868 632 3606