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Society calls for Chief Censor to be Replaced

The Society for Promotion of Community Standards Inc.

PO Box 13-683 Johnsonville

Society calls for Chief Censor to be Replaced

Media Release 5 December 2008

The Society is calling on the new government to dismiss Chief Censor, Bill Hastings and the Chief Executive of the Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA), Dominic Sheehan, for their role in commissioning a market researcher, Colmar Brunton, to pay "children as young as 14 [to be] subjected to footage of rape, sadism and domestic violence as part of research directed by [these] two broadcasting watchdogs", as reported in the Dominion Post (4/12/08).  Hastings in a feeble and misguided attempt to justify his appalling judgment, when confronted by the Dominion Post, admitted that the teens had indeed viewed attempted rape and graphic violence, but that much of it "went over their head" as they practiced "a type of self-censor".

Society President John Mills responds "Yeah right Bill!" and asks: So if children are so skilled at self-censorship and are so oblivious of objectionable content and so unaffected by it, then why are you paid from the public purse over $220,000 per year to censor such material and demand that no adult allow it to be screened to kids, when these same kids can self-censor effectively - so you claim? 

In a self-congratulatory farcical 'analysis', Hastings told the Dominion Post that he believed the research on child viewing of rape etc. had proved that parents paid attention to film classifications and were "trusting us [the Office of Film and Literature Classification and the BSA] to make a sound call."

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Society President John Mills responds again "Yeah right Bill!" and asks: How can it be a "sound call" for the Chief Censor and CEO of the BSA to offer monetary inducements to children as young as 14 and their parents, in order to get the former to watch rape and graphic violence content and thereby break the law (the kids were paid $60 to watch material and have their attitudes to it assessed, when screening it to them is illegal). Furthermore, most parents who care about their children would never put them within an arm's reach of a censor who subjects them to such objectionable content under the pretence of research.

Those under 18 were shown scenes of attempted rape, graphic assaults and domestic violence in the movies Sin City (R18) and 8 Mile (R13), as well as television show Heroes. Violent scenes from episodes of R16-rated Mafia Show "The Sopranos", the Adults Only TV Programme "Crime Scene Investigation" and the R18 Brad Pitt film "Fight Club" were also shown to the 14 year olds.

The Society is outraged that Mr Hastings has defended his breaking of the law by claiming that because "the younger participants gained parental permission before they took part in the research, then that was OK. However, he is duty-bound to uphold the law - the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993 - that defines it to be an offence to show any portion of a restricted publication to an underage person.

The Ministers of Internal Affairs and Broadcasting should insist that the warrants to hold statutory office be immediately withdrawn from Bill Hastings and Dominic Sheehan and they be replaced with persons who uphold the highest standards of integrity in their respective roles as censorship watchdogs.


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