2. Communications and media services available to Australians should broadly reflect community standards, while recognising a diversity of views, cultures and ideas in the community
The ALRC welcomes discussion on this principle, particularly in relation to the continuing relevance of ‘community standards’ in the context of media convergence, but also in relation to a diverse and multicultural Australian society.
The National Classification Scheme has attempted to balance the principle that adults should be able to freely access information, communication and entertainment media of their choice with reference to community standards around particular matters of concern. The National Classification Code and the Broadcasting Services Act refer to “community concerns”, “community standards” and “standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults.”
In responses to the Issues Paper, some submissions raised the point that as more media content is accessed from the home through the internet, it is increasingly private in nature, and suggested that this lessens the need for classification to make reference to community standards.
Other submissions argue that the development of the Internet does not in itself warrant abandoning some conception of community standards, around issues of public decency and fundamental human rights.
It is also important to note that, in addition to the diversity of ideas that exists in Australian society and culture, in Australia’s multicultural society cultural norms may differ across ethnic and religious groups.