Stuff co.nz 23 December 2015
Conservative lobby group Family First have launched an online TV service for parents worried about exposing their children to offensive content.
The online streaming service, called “Family First TV”, allows families to rent or buy content with granular controls over who can see what. It also offers a large amount of political content from Family First for free.
Family First trumpet the granular parental controls as the main innovation within the service. The system is split into four separate five point scales – language, violence, sexual themes, and adult themes.
For example, a “1” on the sexual themes scale signifies an on-screen kiss or a partially naked character, while a “3” signified implied intercourse – such as a “morning after” scene.
Parents can create different profiles for children with fine tuned levels, and assign credits for them to rent or buy the content.
Spokesman Nick Hitchins argued that sticker ratings don’t give parents enough control over the content their children see.
“A PG can be anything from fantasy swordfighting in Puss in Boots through to teenagers kissing behind the bush through to people using some quite colourful language,” he said.
“Instantly,our insights panel gives families the ability to say ‘what is going to occur in this that might concern me’.”
Hitchins points to the M-rated Star Wars: The Force Awakens as an example of this imprecise rating.
“Parents are suddenly in a quandary. M in my mind suddenly feels like I would tell my kid they need to be sixteen before they can watch that. Now comes Star Wars which used to be pretty much PG all the way through.”
Michelle Baker from the Office of Film and Literature Classification said they were always happy for parents to look up extra information on films they wanted to show their children.
“We would like to put as much information as we can on the sticker, but there are some limitations on the physical label,” she said.
“At the end of the day our classifications are based on criteria set out in legislation. There are things we are told to give weight too, to consider, but people might have certain sensitivities around content we don’t cover.”
“For example, religious and political content is not a part of our filter. We’ve had complaints in the past around magic in Harry Potter.”
Baker also noted the low-level ratings were crossrated from other countries.
Parent of two Sarah Bicknell often went online to look up more information about what was in a film before showing it to her children.
“Especially if I have other kids coming around, to make sure it’s suitable for them as well as mine.”
Bicknell liked the idea of an accessible and precise rating system. Often movies aimed at children with low ratings still contained content that might be problematic.
“Recently there was a Tinker Bell movie out, Tinker Bell and the Legend of the NeverBeast, which was rated G, and all the other Tinker Bells have been really easy and good for this kids, but this particular one had some really scary scenes, and one really sad scene. I went online and decided not to choose it.”
Hitchins said the service was a proactive way to preserve family values.
“Here’s a tool which we believe families can use to help preserve the values we’ve spent the rest of the year talking about. We’ve obviously been in the media recently talking about censorship and the importance of keeping kids safe.”
Family First made headlines earlier this year for the part they played in banning Ted Dawes’ book Into The River.
Family First were partnered with a service called Good TV to actually deliver both the ratings and the content.
No revenue would be collected by Family First themselves.