If you like to let your kids stay up to watch TV after 7.30pm you might need to take a good look at what you are really about to watch with changes to the TV Code of Practice kicking in from today.
The new rules mean that programming with an M classification can now be broadcast from 7.30pm. TV shows with murder, terror, bad language, nudity and sex will all be able to be shown on your screens while the sun is still shining in the sky.
( Except for those of us in Queensland….)
Reality shows such as The Bachelor, that you might not have thought twice about letting your tween watch, will be able to show more nudity and contain more bad language.
The move has some prompted some concern.
The Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) president Professor Elizabeth Handsley told News Limited that another concerning change is the scrapping of G timeslots meaning that commercial networks can now show PG-rated content in the previously G rated slots of 6am and 8.30am and from 4pm to 7pm.
Shows with an MA15+ rating can now also be broadcast from 8.30pm.
Professor Handsley said “It means there’s now no time a parent can sit their child in front of the TV with confidence … knowing that everything shown will be appropriate and not upsetting or disturbing”
But Australian television historian Andrew Mercado thinks it is time for a change telling the ABC:
“When you actually think about young children today, they could hop on to the Internet and google up some porn within minutes now. I don't think moving it forward an hour is going to make that much of a difference.”
Harold Mitchell from Free TV Australia said the new code is a “real win” for viewers. “It will mean a greater variety of programming, while preserving key community safeguards.”
He says that the new code contains rules meaning there must be a clear promotion of a show’s classification (a large full screen warning that the show is rated "M") and the type of ads that can be shown between 7.30pm and 8.30pm are still limited.
Some argue that on many days the 6pm news often contains many of these themes anyway but parents reason that they know to shield their children from the news should they wish to. What worries them is having to shield their children from what they thought would be harmless programming at 7.30pm.
But are their fears unfounded?
The fact is that kids these days consume less TV now than they did a decade ago. In 2013 children watched an average of one hour and 54 minutes per day compared to two hours and 24 hours just two years earlier.
We all know what they are doing with that extra time on their hands don’t we? And it’s not homework.
The kids are still on screens, just screens of a different type.
This is what our kids watch. Post continues after video...
Unfortunately whether it’s on TV or not children can always be exposed to unsuitable content - these days even more so throughout the Internet.
When I was a kid I used to sneak out after bedtime and watch Prisoner from behind the couch.
I was fascinated, amazed and totally, totally terrified. Of course I would get caught, usually from an involuntary gasp that escaped whenever ‘The Freak’ came on. My mother would scold me and send me to bed telling me that it wasn’t real and it was just a silly old TV show.
To this day the sound of the Prisoner theme song makes my stomach churn with anxiety.
What this trip down memory lane reminds me is that while kids can quite often be exposed to content without us even knowing it, compared to our parents we also have a lot more choices than ever as to how to control our kids viewing.
iTunes, channel locks on Foxtel. IView. Kids YouTube. Netflix.
With a whole range of ways our children can view media available to us the majority of families won’t really be affected by these changes to ratings at all.
The only ones who, in the long term, might feel the changes are the advertisers trying to engage our offspring’s minds. The networks who might lose our children as future TV consumers probably never really had them in the first place.
Will the changes to TV ratings affects your family viewing habits?