Entertainment

The ABC Has Changed Its Classification Rules: Does That Really Matter?

In line with its status as a multi-channel broadcaster, the ABC has changed the times at which it’ll broadcast certain types of programs on its channels. But do age-related timings have much of a future anyway?

The changes took place at the start of the year, and if you’ve watched much in the way of ABC programming you may have hit the advertising letting you know what’s changed. You can check the classification timing over on the ABC’s dedicated classification site, but the short version is that MA15+ programs may be broadcast half an hour earlier than previously, starting at 9pm, while PG programming can start at 6pm, down from 7pm in years gone past.

The shift was performed, according to the site, to

take into account the multi-channel nature of the ABC TV service and the differences that exists between the channels (eg ABC1 is a broad appeal service that varies significantly in its programming from ABC4Kids which is aimed at pre-school aged children).

Understandably, you won’t find MA15+ rated material on ABC4Kids at all, although there are a few other odd provisions; ABC News 24 has permission to broadcast material rated M block between midday and 3pm, but then not until 8:30pm; the same is true of ABC1. I get that ABC1 might be dodging the kids returning from school, but news broadcasting is often unsettling stuff, and I would have guessed it might need the ability to be MA15+ when appropriate. (Note that somewhat different rules apply to commercial networks.)

It’s an interesting move, and undeniably one that reflects audience shifts, although there’s no correlation with the broadcaster’s very popular iView program, which simply gives a program content warning no matter what time you’re viewing. Then again, based on the ABC’s own stats from last year, 15 of the top 20 iView programs were those aimed at kids.

I’m a big fan of iView, and indeed of time-shifting TV generally — and it appears that I’m not alone, but it does make me wonder. If more and more of us are watching on what amounts to an on-demand basis, excluding events that are actually “live” such as sports, do time classifications have that much relevance anyway?

Classification [ABC]

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