Why TV sex, booze and swearing is fine by me
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