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Working Group report released today

Television Violence Project Working Group

Media Release - Thursday 1 April, 2004

Working Group report released today

A ninety-page report released today, Towards Precautionary Risk Management of TV Violence in New Zealand, presents the findings of the government commissioned Television Violence Working Group. The Working Group comprised broadcasters, community advocates, regulators, producers and academics.

The aim of the project was to provide a contemporary view on violence on TV, whether it represented a problem in the context of New Zealand society, and if so, what ought to be done about it. In particular the Working Group was to review the current literature, examine international regulatory mechanisms, measure the amount of violence on New Zealand TV and evaluate current tools for controlling the level and nature of TV violence in this country.

Chair of the Working Group Dr Rajen Prasad said, “While there is a high incidence of violence shown on New Zealand TV, its influence on anti-social behaviour is not a simple issue to determine. Studies show that the strength of the relationship between TV violence and violent behaviour is relatively modest. However, this is so with most aspects of human behaviour. Furthermore, not everyone is affected in the same way and the eventual effect is determined by the complex interaction of a number of factors.”

“The Working Group determined, that given this up-to-date research review, no action is not a valid response. We concluded that the time had come to move from a preoccupation with proving or disproving some form of causative link between TV violence and violent behaviour toward a different process of risk assessment and evaluation.”

“To enable us to combat the risks posed by current levels of television violence, our recommendation is to establish a new form of collaboration between broadcasters and television viewers, and a new-look Broadcasting Standards Authority. We also have to face new challenges resulting from technological change.”

The Working Group’s proposals on television violence include:

To bring about creative dialogue between viewers, interest groups and broadcasters that strikes a balance between the freedoms of broadcasters and the attitudes and expectations of viewers and communities

An expansion of the educative and informative role of the Broadcasting Standards Authority

Education strategies to better inform viewers and communities

More choice for viewers over what they watch through better information

More voice for viewers

An independent and accessible complaints system that protects the rights of viewers to have their concerns taken seriously and to be acted upon if standards are breached

Better research and information on which to base public policy about community responses

The Television Violence Working Group comprised, Dr Rajen Prasad (Chair), Dr Max Abbott (Dean, Faculty of Health, and Professor of Psychology and Public Health, Auckland University of Technology), Dr Trisha Dunleavy (Senior Lecturer, Media Studies, Victoria University), Robert Boyd-Bell (TV executive producer, Screen Production and Development Association - SPADA), Hone Edwards (Commissioner of Programming, Maori Television Service, now Kaihautu, TVNZ), Ian Fraser (Chief Executive, TVNZ), Rick Friesen (Managing Director, TV3/C4), Jane Parker (Children’s Television Foundation), John Terris (Viewers for Television Excellence) and Jane Wrightson (Chief Executive, Broadcasting Standards Authority).

The Working Group considered and reported on the findings of a six-month research project commissioned from Auckland University of Technology’s Centre for Communication Research. This provided a literature survey of international and national research on television violence, an analysis of current levels of television violence taken from a full week’s viewing in March last year, and a survey and evaluation of existing regulatory regimes relating to television violence in New Zealand and other countries.

The research project resulted from an agreement with the Green Party to investigate levels of TV violence in New Zealand, with a funding allocation for it in the 2002 Budget.

A copy of the report was received today by Acting Broadcasting Minister Hon David Benson-Pope.

The Television Violence Working Group report, Towards Precautionary Risk Management of TV Violence in New Zealand and the AUT research report Television Violence in New Zealand – a study of programming and policy in international context are available online www.tv-violence.org.nz Printed copies of the reports can be obtained from PO Box 5364, Wellington. (Working Group report is free of charge; AUT report is $28.00 inc. postage and packing)

ENDS

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