Australian Council on Children and the Media

Keep C and P TV programs classified by ACMA

The issue

For 35 years, Australian commercial TV stations have been obliged by law to provide a weekly quota of programs specifically made for school aged children,  and another for preschool aged children.  These programs have been known as C programs ( a 5 hr/week quota) and P programs (2.5hrs).  There’s also been a requirement for extra hours of quality Australian drama for children.  

Read the Children's Television Standards

For all of these years, networks have been obliged to submit their programs, or series of programs, in advance of screening, to the broadcasting regulator (currently the Australian Communications and Media Authority) to be assessed as to whether they meet the criteria:

  • for age-appropriateness
  • quality
  • cultural relevance
  • whether they entertain,  and enhance a child’s understanding and experience.

required to gain their C, C drama,  or P classification.

This obligation has been deemed necessary because the networks have not demonstrated that they would be willing to devote the resources required for quality programs otherwise.
Indeed at various times they have actively fought the requirements and/or put more creativity into avoiding them than they have into the programs .

What’s happened recently

The Abbott government has made a commitment to reduce unnecessary regulation for businesses.  It has already held one Repeal Day in March 2014 during which Federal Parliament removed legislation that was deemed outdated or no longer necessary. In December, the Minister for Communications,  Malcolm Turnbull, canvassed the views of industry stakeholders as to whether any legislation and regulation within the communications portfolio might be removed.

Subsequently, the ACMA has now proposed a number of changes to the longstanding C and P standards. These include:

  • the removal of the requirement for networks to have their C and P programs assessed against  the C and P standards,  by the regulator. Instead the networks could make their own assessments.
  • TV licensees no longer be required to provide certain information about when they are planning to broadcast C programs (that is the special high-quality programs of which they have to show a quota every year)  

Read the ACMA proposals

What needs to happen

These proposals should be opposed.  They will no doubt please the industry but will fail to preserve any independent quality controls.

What you can do

  •  read the ACMA proposals
  •  support ACCM’s efforts to oppose the proposed loss of independent quality controls , by
    • letting other parents/professionals/ children’s organisations know of these proposals
    • making a submission yourself- a simple letter will do
    • let your local federal MP know that removing unnecessary regulation that hinders businesses is one thing, but removing regulation that removes independent quality controls on children’s television is not on.