Why TV sex, booze and swear­ing is fine by me

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CHANGES afoot could see chil­dren ex­posed to more sex, nu­dity, swear­ing and al­co­hol from 7.30pm rather than 8.30pm. It sounds like just an­other mid­week night of fun at my house.

But don’t panic just yet. Th­ese pro­posed changes don’t nec­es­sar­ily mean par­ents such as me are go­ing to be­come potty-mouthed al­co­holic nymphos an hour ear­lier than be­fore.

Rather, it’s got to do with the changes to the con­tent tele­vi­sion sta­tions are al­lowed to show at var­i­ous times of the day.

The Free TV in­dus­try lobby group rep­re­sent­ing freeto-air com­mer­cial sta­tions is ar­gu­ing changes should be made to the TV code of con­duct in re­la­tion to clas­si­fi­ca­tion time zones.

Or, as Free TV prefers to put it, “reg­u­la­tory in­ter­ven­tion in some ar­eas has been re­cal­i­brated to ap­pro­pri­ately take into ac­count the di­ver­si­fied dig­i­tal me­dia en­vi­ron­ment”. (Whaaaat?)

The pro­posed changes would mean com­mer­cial freeto-air net­works could show sex, nu­dity, swear­ing and al­co­hol ads from 7.30pm rather than the cur­rent 8.30pm or 9pm, depend­ing on the con­tent.

The changes are still sub­ject to public con­sul­ta­tion and a fi­nal sign-off from the Aus­tralian Com­mu­ni­ca­tion and Me­dia Author­ity. So what do you think? I have to ad­mit I am not con­cerned by sex, swear­ing, nu­dity or ad­ver­tise­ments for al­co­hol be­ing shown an hour ear­lier. I’m pretty sure my kids have seen me nude, drunk and swear­ing (oc­ca­sion­ally all at the same time), so I don’t think they’d be too con­cerned.

It’s in­evitable we will see a re­lax­ation of such re­stric­tions as time passes to re­flect the grow­ing de­sen­si­ti­sa­tion to nu­dity, sex and swear­ing on TV.

Nu­mer­ous UK, US and Aus­tralian stud­ies have found fewer peo­ple find th­ese things of­fen­sive when they see them on TV to­day, and the num­ber of com­plaints has dropped ac­cord­ingly. Pen­sion­ers, in par­tic­u­lar, have stopped jamming sta­tion switch­boards as soon as they catch a stray nip­ple at the Gram­mys, for in­stance.

How­ever, I think dif­fer­ently about vi­o­lence be­cause it might gen­uinely up­set or scare chil­dren or give them on­go­ing night­mares. I don’t want kids stum­bling on an episode of de­pict­ing gory mur­der scenes while they’re clean­ing their teeth.

I’d say there is enough vi­o­lence in this world right now and I am not keen to have more of it shown on TV from an ear­lier time. There­fore, I do think we should draw the line some­where, and en­sure vi­o­lence is only re­stricted to 8.30pm on­wards rather than from 7.30pm.

I know there is a dou­ble stan­dard here, given that the TV news – which does not have a clas­si­fi­ca­tion – is of­ten more vi­o­lent than any­thing else most kids are likely to see on the telly.

But when par­ents are watch­ing the news, they can be on the look­out for pos­si­bly vi­o­lent seg­ments. They can mute or pause the pro­gram, or clear the room of kids when some­thing re­ally graphic comes on. It’s not that hard to do if you’re vig­i­lant.

The com­mer­cial sta­tions are right to ar­gue there is a dis­crep­ancy be­tween re­stric­tions placed on free-to-air sta­tions and just about ev­ery other me­dia plat­form.

For ex­am­ple, there are no lim­i­ta­tions on pay-TV and com­mer­cial ra­dio with re­gard to sex, vi­o­lence and nu­dity.

It’s the same with the in­ter­net, iTunes, Ap­ple TV and pro­grams on viewer-de­mand plat­forms such as Net­flix and Stan.

How­ever, I think free-to-air TV is a dif­fer­ent kind of me­dia beast. We’ve been watch­ing it for decades, and have be­come ac­cus­tomed to the cer­tainty of know­ing what the rules are. I don’t think they should throw away the code al­to­gether, or make it so broad so as to be in­con­se­quen­tial.

I do think peo­ple have a right to ex­pect cer­tainty over what is shown on free-to-air TV at dif­fer­ent times. For ex­am­ple, shows such as and

are com­monly com­plained about be­cause of their lan­guage or sex­ual con­tent be­cause they are on free-toair, and peo­ple don’t ex­pect this in a 6.30pm times­lot.

There are fewer com­plaints about – which in­cludes rape scenes, sex and in­cest – be­cause it’s on pay-TV and is shown much later at night.

Some would ar­gue this is all a moot point be­cause TV sta­tions pretty much do what they want any­way. In­deed, out of 2000 or so com­plaints made to ACMA in 2013, just four were up­held.

In my case, I don’t want vi­o­lence to be­come more vis­i­ble to kids on TV but I am less con­cerned about the odd F-bomb on Gor­don Ram­say’s or a flash of bum on

Isn’t this what keeps TV in­ter­est­ing, af­ter all? Blog with Susie at susieobrie­n.com.au, Face­book.com/NewswithSu­se and fol­low her on Twit­ter @susieob

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