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Australian kids ‘not watching age-suitable shows’

Friday 16 Sep 2011
Since the arrival of new digital channels, Australian children as young as one are watching TV programmes that may not be appropriate for their age, The Sydney Morning Herald reports.

Screen Australia’s research has found that while TV networks are bound to broadcast minimum amounts of children’s programmes during the peak children’s viewing slots, many children are either watching TV outside these times or watching programmes not aimed at them, largely because many more channels are now available.

And while the networks were fulfilling their legal obligations for children’s drama, they were offering no more than the minimum.

The report said: ”This suggests that children’s drama is largely made only as a product of regulatory intervention”.

These regulations are being looked at as part of the government’s convergence review.

The Chief Executive of the Australian Children’s Television Foundation, Jenny Buckland, said there was a need for more flexibility in the regulations, to consider allowing networks to show first-run children’s drama on their digital channels, instead of the current rule that it must be shown on the main channel first.

She said children were increasingly watching TV with their families early in the evening but this was typically when family-oriented shows were screened, rather than specific children’s programming, and there was a need for regulations to adjust to new viewing habits.

Commercial broadcasters’ lobby group, Free TV Australia, said children’s television standards imposed ”highly complex and extremely prescriptive” restrictions that were unequal when compared with pay TV and Internet TV.