Campaign to Change TV Adult “Watershed” to 9.30pm
Campaign to Change TV Adult Only “Watershed” to 9.30 p.m.
The Society is supporting a national Campaign to have the “watershed” time for the broadcasting of Adults Only (AO) television programmes moved from 8.30 p.m. to 9.30 p.m. It is calling on the public to make this an election issue by contacting their local MPs and urging them to get their respective parties to make a public commitment to the time change, as part of their election policy. The Campaign was launched at the VOTE (Viewers of Television Excellence) AGM on 7 June 2005 and MPs from all the main political parties were present, including Broadcasting Minister Hon. Steve Maharey. Society Vice-President Graham Fox, who is a VOTE (Wellington) committee member, helped organise the event.
Society president Mike Petrus says: “The public needs to express its real concern over the growing tide of pornographic sleaze and vile smut, graphic violence, sexual violence and other objectionable content that is being screened before or close to 9.30 p.m., during the period when the vast majority of children under the age of 14 years are up and about the home and often have free access to the television, many unsupervised. The Society believes that those responsible for TV programming and their bosses are involved in a deliberate attempt to push the moral boundaries of acceptable content, focusing of vulgarity, excessive use of obscenity and porn smut in a pathetic money-driven and misguided attempt to boost ratings.”
“While it is accepted that parents and caregivers are ultimately responsible for what children watch on TV, there must be a more responsible approach by broadcasters to the practical difficulties faced by busy parents and caregivers in monitoring children’s viewing habits. Most children are not tucked up in bed by 8.30 p.m. on weeknights or weekends. The safeguarding of our precious children and young persons from the serious psychological and spiritual injuries caused by exposure to sickening and gratuitous violence, degrading, demeaning and dehumanising sexually explicit material, sordid criminal activities that encourage “copy-cat” behaviour, anti-social content and the like, should be a priority of broadcasters and especially the Minister of Broadcasting.”
Petrus challenges the public to ask the Minister what practical action he and his government have taken to address the serious concerns raised in the Report of the Government Working Party on TV Violence. “They also need to ask the Minister,” he says “to identify any of the 30 very far sighted recommendations in the Report that his government has implemented.” Petrus says, “the failure of the government and in particular this Minister to act on the Report’s findings proves its preoccupation with its own politically-correct priorities: its liberal social engineering programme (same-sex marriage legislation, decriminalisation of prostitution, “gay-rights” and the like).”
Petrus says: “Research shows that a significant amount of the TV content our children are currently exposed to is brutalising them. Although channels are not supposed to show adult material before 8.30pm (the "watershed" time), this is frequently breached. Violence and inappropriate sexual content are constantly being shown in daytime chat-shows cartoons, programme trailers, advertisements, news items and music videos.
The Society agrees with VOTE that when 8.30pm comes, the broadcasters seem to throw open the switch that says, "anything goes". Petrus reiterates: “the public must call for a change in the AO watershed time and make it an election issue … Join the national campaign to move the watershed to 9.30pm!…with a general election coming up, the time has never been better to get politicians to take notice!”
For resources go to http://www.viewers.org.nz/
VOTE has highlighted studies that show how children are being harmed by violence on television. See http://www.viewers.org.nz/allpages/Research_outline.html
On its website VOTE addresses the question: How does NZ compare with other countries?
“New Zealand has the most liberal rules in the world. In the UK and Canada, adult material is not allowed till 9.00pm. In the USA, it's even later - 10.00pm. The watershed in Australia is the same as New Zealand, but the restrictions are tighter, not allowing AO material at all.
“The BBC rules are particularly worth noting, and would be a good model for New Zealand.”
“The earlier in the evening a programme is placed, the more suitable it is likely to be for children to watch on their own. The Watershed reminds broadcasters that particular care should be taken over inclusion of explicit scenes of sex and violence, and the use of strong language. Particular care should also be taken in the period immediately after the Watershed. There should be a gradual transition towards more adult material and sudden changes in tone should be avoided but, where unavoidable, they must be clearly signposted. Adult material should never be positioned close to the Watershed simply to attract audiences in a sensationalist way. Material which is particularly adult in tone should be scheduled at an appropriate time, where necessary sometime after the Watershed. The post Watershed period runs from 2100 until 05:30 the following morning. No trail for a post-Watershed programme should be scheduled next to a programme specifically targeted at children. Particular care needs to be taken when editing pictures for news bulletins and factual programmes likely to be seen by vulnerable groups such as children. Care is also needed in deciding the frequency of scenes of violence in news bulletins on mainstream channels, particularly during the daytime when children could be watching."