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2007 Annual Report tabled in Parliament

14 November 2007

2007 Annual Report of the Office of Film and Literature Classification tabled in Parliament

The 2007 Annual Report of the Office of Film and Literature Classification was tabled in Parliament today.

The Office classified more material than ever before, largely due to an increase in the number of submissions from law enforcement agencies. It made decisions on 2,762 publications in 2006/07, six per cent more than in 2005/06. The Office banned 14% of the publications it classified, restricted 74%, and classified 12% as unrestricted. The largest proportion of banned material dealt with the sexual exploitation of children.

Chief Censor Bill Hastings said “censorship law requires the Office to protect society from the harm caused by restricted and objectionable publications. To do its job, the Office must fiercely guard its independence by balancing competing views.” For example, the Office classified the film Out of the Blue by balancing the filmmaker’s opinion with those who were most affected by the event the film depicted.

“Censors must also be aware of broad but often quietly spoken public opinion and resist capture by narrow but often loud lobbies,” added Mr Hastings. For example, the Office found that demands to ban the computer game Bully for allegedly glorifying bullying were unfounded after examination of the game revealed its anti-bullying stance. Similarly, The Peaceful Pill Handbook was banned after the Office found that it encouraged criminal activity instead of simply offering advice and advocating law reform as its authors claimed.

The Office also carried out research into public perceptions of offensive language. “Understanding broad public views is an important part of deciding how best to protect the public good,” said Mr Hastings.

“The Office spread information about censorship to a wider audience by expanding its Censor for a Day high school programme to over 900 senior students from 36 high schools, by developing new resources for students studying censorship, and by giving more public talks. We also targeted magazine, games and DVD outlets with information about their legal obligations with respect to restricted material” Mr Hastings said.

The 2007 Annual Report can be downloaded from www.censorship.govt.nz

ENDS

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