Media Release

30 March 2004

EFA supports new labels for film and game classifications

A Government plan to simplify label names for film and computer game classifications has gained the support of Electronic Frontiers Australia ("EFA"). The Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Amendment Bill 2004 would align the labels used for film and computer game classifications without changing the types of material that are permissible in the existing categories.

Under the current labelling scheme, computer games are rated G, G8+, M15+, MA15+, or RC. Films are rated G, PG, M15+, MA15+, R, X, or RC. The proposed amendments would establish common labels of G (General), PG (Parental Guidance), M (Mature), MA15+ (Mature Accompanied) and RC (Refused Classification) for both films and computer games. The existing R and X labels for films would be re-named R18+ (Restricted) and X18+ (Restricted).

"These changes are sensible and should help parents and others make better informed decisions," said EFA Executive Director Irene Graham. "The new labels will eliminate confusion about G8+ and PG and make the difference between M and MA15+ more readily apparent. The addition of '18+' to the R and X labels will make it clear that these films have been classified suitable for adults to view if they wish and that the categories are not like a refusal of classification."

The new naming scheme highlights the lack of 18+ ratings for computer games. In the absence of such ratings, computer games that would be rated R or X are illegal to sell in Australia.

"Computer games classified R18+ in other countries are being cut for release in Australia so that they will fit within the MA15+ rating," said Ms Graham. "It's questionable whether making minor modifications to a game adequately protects minors and it certainly does not allow adults to exercise the same freedom of choice which they have with films and videotapes."

A report commissioned by the Office of Film and Literature Classification in 2002 found strong community support for an "R" classification for computer games and recommended its introduction. To date this recommendation has not been implemented.

EFA calls upon the Commonwealth and State/Territory governments to introduce restricted 18+ classifications for computer games in order to give effect to the principle enshrined in Australian classification law that 'adults should be able to read, hear and see what they want'.

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Below is:
- Background information
- Contact details for media

Background:

1. Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Amendment Bill 2004
http://scale.law.gov.au/html/bills/0/2004/0/2004032505.htm

2. Report prepared for the Office of Film and Literature Classification 'A Review of the Classification Guidelines for Films and Computer Games: Assessment of Public Submissions on the Discussion Paper and Draft Revised Guidelines' prepared by Dr Jeffrey E Brand, Co-director, Bond University Centre for New Media Research and Education, 11 February 2002
http://www.oflc.gov.au/resource.html?resource=189 &filename=189.pdf p.32

About EFA:

Electronic Frontiers Australia Inc. ("EFA") is a non-profit national organisation representing Internet users concerned with on-line rights and freedoms. EFA was established in 1994, is independent of government and commerce, and is funded by membership subscriptions and donations from individuals and organisations with an altruistic interest in promoting online civil liberties.

Media Contacts:

Ms Irene Graham
EFA Executive Director
Phone: 0412 997 163
Email: ed at efa.org.au      
Mr Greg Taylor
EFA Chair
Phone: 0419 789 904
Email: chair at efa.org.au

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Electronic Frontiers Australia Inc -- http://www.efa.org.au/
URL of this release: http://www.efa.org.au/Publish/PR0400330.html
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