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Gross Inefficiency in Chief Censor's Office

For immediate release .....
The Society for Promotion of Community Standards Inc. P.O. Box 13-683 Johnsonville
Media Release 13 November 2006

Gross Inefficiency in Chief Censor's Office

The Annual Report (2006) of the Chief Censor's Office - the Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC) – was tabled in parliament on Friday 10 November 2006. Analysis by the Society of the Financial Statements of the OFLC for the year ending 30 June 2006 reveals gross inefficiency in the use of taxpayer funds in the activities of the Classification Unit which is responsible to the Minister of Internal Affairs, the Hon Rick Barker, for performing Output 1 (defined as "Examination, Classification and Registration of Publications"). The Chief Censor, Bill Hastings, and his deputy, Ms Nicola McCully, are directly responsible for the preparation of the Financial Statements.

The OFLC received a total revenue of $2,847,878 to fulfil Output 1 that involved about 1,649 publications in the 2005/06 financial year (DVDs, films, computer games and images, books, magazines and videos). In addition 946 posters were assessed under Output 1, which the OFLC claims cost them in the order of $50,000 to classify ($52.23 per poster "slicks". The Society is shocked at this extravagant charge for a task that the OFLC claims took their censors about 1,700 hours to perform. Making a decision on the display conditions to impose on a single video "slick" (a static image) and recording the decision, could not possibly take 1.8 hours!)

Based on average costs that take full account of all overheads and personnel time, supplied to parliament by Mr Barker, the Society has shown that it cost the OFLC $990,302 to complete Output 1 for which it received revenue from three sources totalling $2,847,878 (including $1,371,894 from taxpayers) to fulfil; revenue amounting to $1,857,576 IN EXCESS of that calculated by the OFLC as the full and direct costs. Its total expenditure on Output 1 was $2,476,060, which is $1,485,758 IN EXCESS of its costs. This low-level efficiency in the Classification Office (30%) means that the 19 censors spend at most 1.5 days per working week on activities DIRECTLY related to that for which the tax-payer funds them. The remaining 3.5 days are spent on activities which the Minister says are "not related" to fulfilling Output 1.(Note a separate Crown revenue grant of about $620,00 covers all costs for activities performed by the OFLC related to its Information Services - Output 2).

The Society is asking what the 19 censors in the Classification Unit did in 2005/06 for the 23,826 hours of "off-task" activities they engaged in. The Society is aware that they are paid by the tax-payer to receive psychological counselling, have music and dancing lessons, go to the gymnasium etc. in order to gain relief from the stress and impact of watching toxic DVDs, videos and films that contain "objectionable" content such as hard core pornography, sexual violence, paedophilia and necrophilia.

A recent report on the Chief Censor's Office states:

"McCully [Deputy Chief Censor] estimates that 80% of her team's work is classifying the kind of sexually explicit DVDs that will end up in sex shops and the "adult" sections of video stores from North Cape to Bluff.... You might have six hours of sex DVDs to classify, and you have to watch them from beginning to end.... Each censor watches the day's assigned publication in individual viewing booths... Outside the row of booths is a desk piled with porn DVDs with titles such as "Buttman Returns" and "All Oral 6"..." [Watching The Defectives" published in the Sunday Star Times 13 August 2006, pp. 5-6].

The Society concludes that the Classification Unit flush with tax-payers funds (Crown Revenue: $1,485,758 IN EXCESS of its costs) and flush with third party revenue (an excess over costs of $381,592) to perform a task (Output 1) that according to the Minister's figures cost only $990,302 to perform. On top of this the OFLC posted a net surplus of $371,818 for 2005/06, on top of increasing the salary packages of both the Chief Censor and his deputy by over $10,000 (190,000+ and $150,000+ respectively).

To see parts of the Society's analysis see www.spcs.org.nz


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