Research Ngā Rangahau

Some Content May Offend: Public Attitudes to Content Classifications and Warnings on Free-to-Air and Pay TV, 2010

Download PDF: 
Some Content May Offend PDF (303.28 KB)

Date published: February 2010

Research Company: Mobius Research and Strategy Limited


  • Understanding public awareness and expectations of, and satisfaction with, content classifications and warnings currently used by free-to-air and pay TV broadcasters


  • Focus group sessions and interviews with 88 parents or guardians of children aged between five and 17 years in Auckland


  • Parents use a range of tools and criteria to decide on viewing suitability
  • Parents see classifications and warnings as important guidelines in deciding what their children watch
  • While parents don’t want to be told what they should be doing, they want to be informed enough to make decisions affecting their households
  • Communication of classifications and warnings to the New Zealand viewing public is not currently as clear as it could be, especially with pay TV
  • Parents make passive use of classifications and warnings
  • Besides communication issues, several other factors impact on the effectiveness of classifications and warnings:
    • Credibility issues
    • PGR/PG classifications
    • Pay TV’s M classification
    • Pay TV’s warning symbols
    • Perceived gaps in classification
    • Timing


  • Consider the rationale behind two separate free-to-air and pay TV systems
  • Consider modelling any revised system on the current free-to-air approach
  • Consider how an age-based system may add value for parents
  • Ensure clear differentiation between the symbols used for classifications and those used for warnings (pay TV)
  • Use visual and verbal communication as a matter of course
  • Consider dispensing with classifications and warnings that are ‘meaningless’ to parents, such as M and C
  • Consider a wider communications approach focusing on the role of classifications and warnings
  • Consider an alternative to the term ‘watershed’