In an opinion piece for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, Mr Fletcher said there was a “veritable hodgepodge of arrangements” that needed to be updated for consumers’ changing habits. Sixty per cent of Australian homes now have subscription video on demand (SVOD) services, up from 2 per cent four years ago.
The review is part of the government’s response to the landmark digital platforms inquiry finding a need for a “new platform-neutral regulatory framework” and a “nationally uniform classification scheme to classify or restrict access to content consistently across delivery formats”.
The current national classification scheme, introduced in 1995, covers films, video games and series available online and on DVDs. It does not encompass shows on TV, which come under codes of practice for free-to-air channels, subscription TV and and the national broadcasters.
“We need to get a process that meets community expectations and that the community has confidence in and, secondly, meets the needs of industry and is consistent with technology and where it’s going,” Mr Stevens said.
He said the community wanted a classifications system that was simple, consistent and “reflects contemporary views”. The classification of content across different formats was broadly similar but “there are differences that can be concerning to people”, he said.
The review will also clarify what content requires classification and update standards across the codes and guidelines. Mr Stevens is set to report back to the government by April 2020.
Under the digital platforms response, a separate examination of Australian content requirements that face domestic broadcasters but not the global SVOD services will be conducted by the Australian Communications and Media Authority and Screen Australia.