December 1 marked a reshaping of content classifications for Aussie Broadcast Networks, for better or for worse. The winners: profanity, violence, nudity, sex, and lenient parents. Losers: the chap or lass who places the ‘bleep’ sound effect over naughty words, and the sanctity of our collective innocence.
While some see these new nips and tucks as disruptive to the routines of everyday families, others view them as a necessary —if frustratingly small—step away from the antique sensibilities of free-to-air television, and towards an acknowledgement of the evolution of human viewing habits.
Unfortunately, whether you see this new ‘code’ as a great idea, empty gesture, or travesty is immaterial. The deck has been reshuffled, the honchos have returned to their voice-activated houses built from our solidified manipulated emotions, and now all we can do is work with the cards on the table.
With that in mind, if you’re able to place a pillow over your TV guide and holster your remote for a few minutes then here are a few ways the new classification times will forever alter the course of your future.
You get seven more hours of hardcore titillation each week
M-rated content can now air an hour earlier, which means if this current week’s line-up aired next week, then you could switch on channel 7 and see Nicolas Cage hurl profanities at his own bleeding buttocks in Snake Eyes (I haven’t seen it in a while, I just assume that scene is in there somewhere) before the sun goes down. Shows that usually aired while your eyes were half-closed can now (technically) air during dinner (whether they will is another story), thus breeding a new generation of potty-mouthed, sex-crazed, serial killers. But I doubt Nine will un-bleep profanity on The Block - that would only lead to an unnecessary civil war.
You get three and a half more hours of super hardcore titillation each week
MA rated content, which was only welcome after 9:00, is now allowed half-an-hour earlier, which is a bold, game-changing move from the powers that be. Us viewers no longer have to wait until 10:30 for Samantha to F things and call things C’s, and thanks to earlier-evening mental dexterity, the timeless intricacies of Sex and the City can now be fully appreciated for what they are. A lot.
Your family unit will crumble into tiny, homeless pieces
Family lobby groups are up in arms at the implementation of this extra one-and-half-hour of potential depravity, particularly as it might push parents to spend the time between 7:30 and 9pm getting to know their children.
Speaking of children, they will never again be safe to watch TV alone. Never!
Content classified PG can now be aired at any time of the day (previously, designated ‘G’ blocks littered the week), which means adults should remain within ten feet of the television at all times, just in case that upper-case P pops up in front of the upper-case G. The group most affected by this small-screen renaissance is parents whose idea of home-schooling is to leave their kids alone in the living room while they go to the TAB, or spin class, or both.
You will not be tempted to drink or gamble more than you already are, which, if we’re being honest, is all the time
Those skilled at the art of the poker machine or at irresponsible consumption of alcohol will have less chance of falling to the devil while minding a child. All gambling advertisements are now banned during shows airing between 6 and 8:30am, and 4 and 7pm, and no alcohol commercial can air before 8:30pm.*
* This is an asterisk bigger than Asterix. Booze ads can air during a sports program at any time during the weekend. So kids, during the footy on Sunday, grab your play-dough, a plate of Smarties and a nice case of Lager, as television networks want you to enjoy your stay.
Your free-to-air TV will now be as awesome as Netflix
The ACMA chairman has justified/praised the changes by stating that time zone restrictions on broadcast channels are becoming less relevant, and if parents have concerns they should rely on the parental locks of their TV sets.
“The new code reflects the reality that television is operating in a new, digital era in which content can be viewed from a wide variety of sources and on a wide variety of platforms. The digital era has brought many challenges for broadcasters, and there were aspects of the previous code which made it difficult for them to respond and innovate. The digital era has also brought challenges for viewers, and the new code is designed to assist them to better manage their own viewing in an environment in which responsibility will be increasingly shared between government, industry and, importantly, viewers (citizens). We have worked with Free TV to ensure the code was well adapted for this new environment while retaining core viewer safeguard."
Now, I might be missing something, but I’m interpreting this and the rest of his statement to mean that including an extra hour-and-a-half of breasts and blood (the critically acclaimed B&B approach), as well as a minor kybosh of the promotion of addictive products, means that Australian networks have instantly swayed Orange Is The New Black fans to finally program their television sets to pick up broadcast channels.
In other words, I fail to see how these tweaks suggest any imminent significant stride towards competing with new digital technologies.
All in all, these alterations are what they are – gestures that will appease some, appal others, but mostly be met with apathy. All sides have their right to an opinion, but I’m inclined to reserve earnest judgement until this shift proves to be more than the sum of its parts, and instead go enjoy a mountain goat video on YouTube over a nice glass of — BRAND NAME REMOVED — spiced rum.