The well-being of Australian children has come under a new threat. Once again we as Canberra Declarationsignees have an opportunity to pray and act.
Free TV Australia, an industry body which represents all of Australia’s commercial free-to-air television licensees, is seeking major changes to the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice.
The Rev Dr Ross Clifford, the President of the NSW Council of Churches, summarised the proposed changes saying “the changes to the Code of Practicewould mean that violence, sexual content, and advertisements for alcohol, gambling and M-rated movies and DVDs would be screened during popular programs that children watch.”
In particular Free TV Australia seeks to move the M (Mature – content generally suitable for age 17 and up) classification start time from 8:30pm to 7.30pm. Roslyn Phillips, the National Research Officer for FamilyVoice Australia, explains that “M-rated programs may contain moderately strong violence, including sexual violence, injecting drug use, coarse language and simulated scenes of intimate sexual activity.”
The proposed Code of Practice also drops the AV (adult violence) classification and allows MA15+ programs to be screened from 8.30pm. Gambling and alcohol advertising will continue during sports broadcasts.
Another major proposed change is eliminating the G (General Audiences – all ages admitted) rating by introducing a PG (Parental Guidance suggested) rating across all channels all day. This means that children would no longer be safe to watch television unsupervised by their parents.
Complaints about a given program quickly made by phone or fax would no longer be accepted. Only written complaints by a person, who can show that they have actually watched the program, would be allowed. This makes the complaint process slow and cumbersome and therefore less likely to be used.
Dr Glenn Cupit, Vice-President of the Australian Council on Children and the Media, a unique national community organisation whose members share a strong commitment to the promotion of the healthy development of Australian children, said that “the Code[of Practice] is clearly written from the point of view of the industry.”
Free TV Australia released their review of the Code of Practice on 21 February in a 63-page document and invited public comment.Ironically, three days later, on 24 February, Google, the top Internet site in the world, and once the largest global purveyor of pornographic materials, announcedthat it would be taking another major step to clean up its operation. Even though this could result in a huge loss of revenue, Google has decided to steer Google Blogger in the same family-friendly direction as YouTube, Google Plus and Google Play.
In June 2014, we reported how Google stopped all advertisements for pornography and ads that link to sexually-explicit websites. At that time Google also stopped offering sexually-explicit apps in their phone app store, Google Play. These announcements came just two weeks after a delegation of anti-porn activists met with Google executives in their offices in Washington D.C.
This latest threat is a serious matter. Jesus warned that anyone who turns little children away from faith will receive severe punishment. He said to His disciples, as a little child stood in their midst, “And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. If anyone causes one of these little ones – those who believe in me – to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea” (Matthew 18:5-6 NIV).
There is to be a six-week consultation process before Free TV Australia submits its final Code of Practice to the Australian Communications and Media Authority for registration. So there is still time for us to respond. The closing date for public comment is 5pm on Friday, 3 April 2015.
We therefore encourage parents and grandparents and others who have signed the Canberra Declaration to contact your local MPs and Free TV Australia with your concerns. To help you to do this, there are some suggested points below that you can use plus easy sending instructions.
Let us boldly and strongly urge Free TV Australiato consider the healthy development of our children and what this means for their future and the future of Australia.
Let us challenge them to head in the same direction as Google by making TV viewing in Australia more and more family friendly.
Yours for happy and healthy Aussie children,
David Rowsome and Warwick Marsh
Suggestions for Contacting Free TV Australia and Your MPs
Here are some suggestions to help you write to Free TV Australia and your local MPs requesting that the proposed changes to the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice be rejected.
Firstly, it is very important to use your own words and to be polite. Please keep in mind that your comments can be as short as one sentence.
It is very helpful to have a title or subject line that clearly expresses your position such as – ‘Please Keep Free TV Child Friendly‘.
Always include your name and address to identify yourself as a voting Australian citizen.
Here are some points to consider in writing your comments –
Children need to be protected from early exposure to inappropriate images and words. Such intrusions can damage and scar their emotions.
Free TV Australia should be attempting to help parents in the raising of children not make things more difficult.
Television is the easiest medium for children to access, therefore it must maintain strict standards.
There is already too much sex and violence on free-to-air television. Deliberately putting more of this type of content in front of children is irresponsible.
Free TV has stated it’s up to parents to actively manage viewing, however research suggests that many parents struggle to uphold family viewing rules.
The connection between alcohol advertising and under-age drinking has been clearly demonstrated.
Gambling and alcohol advertising during sports broadcasts indoctrinates children who are viewing into a culture of drinking and gambling.
The well-being of Australian children and their healthy development needs to be put before the commercial interests of the television industry, advertisers and marketers.
More and more psychologists are warning us about the dangers of the increasing sexualisation of children.
Australian society will reap in kind what is sown into the lives of our children through TV. Already we are witnessing unprecedented social breakdown.
1. To contact Free TV Australia:
Post a letter to 44 Avenue Road, Mosman NSW 2088 or