The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has found Nine breached the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice after it split a screening of Pirates of the Caribbean, Dead Men Tell No Tales into two parts, each with a different classification.
The ACMA opened an investigation after Nine broadcast the film in two parts, with the first part modified to suit the PG classification requirement for movies broadcast prior to 8.30 pm.
The investigation found that while the two parts were broadcast sequentially (part one between 7.00 pm and 8.35 pm and part two between 8.35 pm and 9.35 pm) the authority considers it constituted a single broadcast and the overall classification was M.
While this investigation related to the specific broadcast of Pirates of the Caribbean, the tactic of splitting movies was utilised regularly by networks throughout 2019, at this stage it is unclear if the ACMA intends to pursue further action against Nine.
TV Blackbox regularly received questions from confused viewers last year regarding the practice of splitting movies into two sections.
While networks are allowed to broadcast M rated programs such as Married At First Sight at 7:30pm, movies with a M classification must commence after 8:30pm. Commercial broadcasters are continuing to campaign for reform of the classification rules which they believe puts them at a disadvantage against streaming providers.
ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin said film classification is intended to regulate broadcast content and assist viewers to make informed decisions about their viewing choices.
“Viewers—some who are children—would have started to watch a PG film, then halfway through been expected to choose between missing the end or watching M-rated material,”
“Networks are on notice that this approach is unacceptable and in breach of the Code.”