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Censor's Office Report Tabled

2005 Annual Report of the Office of Film and Literature Classification tabled in Parliament

Office of Film and Literature Classification

The Chief Censor has called for a review of the labelling and classification of computer games in the 2005 Annual Report of the Office of Film and Literature Classification tabled in Parliament today.

Unlike films, computer games that are not restricted do not have to be rated or labelled in New Zealand. As a result, around 90% of the games that appear in New Zealand carry an Australian classification label. Research by the Office in 2005 found that only 56% of teenagers surveyed understood the meaning of one of those labels. When the Office classified games that had not been restricted in Australia, it gave most of them a restricted classification.

“New Zealand’s decision to exempt unrestricted video games from labelling was not the result of effective lobbying or careful policy analysis. In 1993 when the law was passed, games were seen to have a limited appeal and small likelihood of causing harm.” Mr Hastings said.

“Times have changed. Games have become more realistic and hugely popular. Some are developed solely for an adult audience. New Zealand labels alert consumers to the content of all films and videos. But they must rely on foreign labels when buying most computer games. Foreign labels don’t reflect Kiwi standards and research shows many people don’t understand them.” Mr Hastings added.

The Office has been involved in a range of other activities in 2005, including working with telecommunications companies to produce a code regulating content provided to mobile phones. The Office also assisted the Samoa Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration in strengthening its Censorship Office, as part of a NZ Aid programme

The Annual Report also noted that the Office received more publications for classification in 2005 than in any previous year. The 8% increase over 2004 was the result of a greater number of commercial submissions of films, videos and DVDs.

ENDS

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