Broadcasters’ news

Press Council re-brands and launches VOD classifications code

Members of the NZ Press Council have decided to launch a new classification system and independent consumer complaints process for video-on-demand (VOD) programmes in New Zealand.

To reflect its growing multi-media role, the Press Council will also undergo a name change next year to New Zealand Media Council.

The new VOD system was developed in conjunction with local and international media organisations including TVNZ, Sky Television, Lightbox, Netflix, RNZ, Google YouTube Originals, Maori Television, MediaWorks, Stuff/Fairfax and NZME.

The changes were announced by the executive committee of the Press Council. Chairman Rick Neville, who is also editorial director of the Newspaper Publishers’ Association, said:

“As the media landscape continues to rapidly evolve, this is a timely step forward for both the council, publishers and the fast-growing VOD sector.

“The commitment of broadcasters and other VOD providers to join with publishers and participate in planning the new system is commendable. We have no doubt the Media Council will provide the New Zealand public with a readily accessible and effective complaints process.”

From March 1, 2018 all VOD service providers that sign up to the Media Council’s video-on-demand classifications code will classify their VOD programmes in a way that better informs parents to protect children from inappropriate content and to make good viewing choices for themselves and their families.

For the first time, New Zealanders will have an independent authority to which they can complain if they are unhappy with the content and subsequent classification of an entertainment programme or film which they watch online.

The Media Council will appoint a new Classifications Committee which will have the power to order the reclassification of any VOD programme found to be in breach of the code. The committee will be chaired by retired High Court judge and current chairman of the Press Council, Sir John Hansen.

The committee will have a majority of public representatives as has the NZ Press Council. Established in 1972, the Press Council’s membership comprises both public and industry representatives. It can consider a complaint only when there is a majority of public members present.

Any local or international VOD service provider may use the system provided they agree to be bound by the decisions of the Media Council’s classifications committee. The system will be funded by participating VOD service providers and will be available to the viewing public at no cost.

The Media Council’s Statement of Principles will continue to apply to all other entertainment, news and current affairs content published in print or online by its members.