Prohibitions offline

12.32 The balance of this chapter outlines the existing mechanisms for preventing the distribution of RC content—first ‘offline’ and then ‘online’. The Classification of Media Content Act should provide for similar methods for preventing the distribution of Prohibited content. The methods of preventing distribution offline are less contested than the methods used to control online Prohibited content.

Distributing and broadcasting

12.33 State and territory enforcement legislation proscribes certain dealings with RC content—such as selling, publicly exhibiting or possessing with an intention to sell. The ALRC recommends that the Classification of Media Content Act likewise prohibit the sale, distribution and exhibition of Prohibited content. The Classification of Media Content Act should, however, clarify that this also applies to online Prohibited content.

12.34 Similarly, the Broadcasting Services Act provides that the codes developed by television industry groups encompass such matters as ‘preventing the broadcasting of programs that, in accordance with community standards, are not suitable to be broadcast’.[31] As stated above, the ALRC recommends that the Classification of Media Content Act should provide that content providers must not screen Prohibited content (whether so classified or likely to be so classified).

12.35 In Western Australia and prescribed areas of the Northern Territory, it is illegal to possess RC content.[32] The ALRC makes no recommendation about the possession of Prohibited content.

Importing and exporting

12.36 Customs regulations currently prohibit the importation and exportation of ‘objectionable goods’.[33] The Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (Customs) is empowered to identify and confiscate such objectionable goods at Australia’s borders.

12.37 While the provisions relating to ‘objectionable goods’ do not explicitly refer to RC content, the Australian Government’s intention was to align the scope of ‘objectionable goods’ with the RC category.[34] Customs has advised that if the scope of the RC category were changed, ‘equivalent amendments are required to the [import regulations] to ensure that the controls at the border are consistent with the domestic controls’.[35]

12.38 The ALRC agrees that if the Australian Government narrows the scope of the new Prohibited classification category, as is recommended in Chapter 11, then it should also review the scope of ‘objectionable goods’ under the import and export regulations.

[31]Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (Cth) s 123(2)(a).

[32]Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 (Cth) ss 102, 103; Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Enforcement Act 1996 (WA) ss 62, 81, 89. State and territory offences under the classification cooperative scheme more generally are discussed in Ch 16.

[33]Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations 1956 (Cth) reg 4A; Customs (Prohibited Exports) Regulations 1958 (Cth) reg 3.

[34] Explanatory Statement, Customs (Prohibited Imports) Amendment Regulations 2007 (No 5) (Cth), 1; Explanatory Statement, Customs (Prohibited Exports) Amendment Regulations 2007 (No 4) (Cth), 1; Explanatory Statement, Customs (Prohibited Exports) Regulations (Amendment) 1997 (Cth), 1; Explanatory Statement, Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations (Amendment) 1995 (Cth), 1.

[35] Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, Submission to Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee Inquiry into the Australian Film and Literature Classification Scheme, 25 February 2011.