Published on 20 May 2011.

This Issues Paper was released on 20 May 2011. 

The Issues Paper National Classification Scheme Review has been developed in response to the request from the Attorney-General of Australia, the Hon. Robert McClelland MP, to the ALRC to inquire and report on the framework for the classification of media content in Australia, based on the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995, state and territory enforcement legislation, and the Broadcasting Services Act 1992.

The Issues Paper provides an overview of the current classification system, and an assessment of its strengths and weaknesses. It discusses the important distinctions to be made between censorship and classification, and issues concerning what should be classified and who should do the classifying, in the context of rapid change in the media industries and media consumption patterns in a converging technological environment. It also discusses various options for revising the regulatory framework, including direct government regulation, co-regulation with industry, and industry self-regulation.

In releasing the Issues Paper, the ALRC is seeking wide community input into reform of the classification system, with the aim of advising on a regulatory framework that:

  • is consistent across media industries, platforms, and devices
  • meets community expectations and is readily understood by the public
  • enables  Australians to have ready access to a diverse range of forms of information and entertainment content across media platforms
  • ensures that appropriate safeguards exist to restrict the availability of inappropriate content, particularly for children
  • minimises the costs and regulatory burdens of compliance, and promotes competition and innovation
  • is enforceable and promotes public trust in the regulatory system.

The ALRC Review is occurring alongside other public consultations and reviews covering matters related to the National Classification Scheme. These include the Convergence Review examining Australia’s communications and media legislation,  and the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE) review of measures to increase accountability and transparency for Refused Classification material.