Over years of development, media all over the world have experienced various types of regulation. The main purpose of media regulation is to decide whether the content conveyed by media is suitable for different types of audiences consuming it. According to this purpose, the presence of media regulation is essential and crucial that it protects audiences from content that may negatively influence them and guide them to content that fits. However, media regulation also has several drawbacks that it may diminish media circulation or limits the interaction between audiences and content creators that producers are not able to reach their desired consumers. Another point that needs to be taken into consideration is the effect of media regulation on the notion of space and places. This blog post will indicate the effect on space and places of media regulation with analysis of the case of Australian Classification Board.
Australian Classification Board is the regulation that gives ratings to different types of media namely films, TV or video games. The ratings varies from E (exempt from classification), G (general), PG (parental guidance recommended) or M (recommended for mature audiences) that decides the suitable audiences for particular contents.
One possible effect of classification board is that it may reduce the ‘joint attention‘ that audiences have when consuming media content with varied types of people in the way they share the same experience and attention with strangers. It is obvious that children are not supposed to watch movies with M (mature) rating. However, there are cases that ratings are not quite true or blurred. For example, in the case of the newly released episode of the Star Wars series called The force awakens. Although I’m not a big fan of this series, I still aware that it is enjoyed by audiences of different generations. However, this episode is given the M rating, which prevents children under 15 to watch it. This movement of the Australian Classification Board also confused parents who ‘saw the first three Star Wars films as they came out as a child’ (Gough 2015). Therefore, it is hard for different generations to consume this episode together in one cinema room and subsequently, they will not have such ‘joint attention’ experience, which they used to have in the past with the previous Star Wars episodes.
Beside films and cinema experience, we can also relate the problem to the aspect of games. It is reported that the new gaming classification system has banned ‘219 games in just 4 months’ (Reilly 2015), which means nowadays a lot of young gamers are not able to play games that previous generations have played at their ages. Therefore, the gaming space could changed in the way that kids may not have the chance to experience playing the same games in the same living room as their brothers used to do, or a mature brother may not be able to play the same game with his little brother in their living room like they used to do. Their experience of the living room in their own houses or gaming centers may change due to this regulation, and people’s ‘joint attention’ experience can also never be the same again.
In a whole, it is essential to have a regulation such as Australian Classification Board, but it needs to be flexible in order to allow people to consume media in the best ways for them and in the places that give them the best experience. Due to the classification board, a mom would have to go hire a DVD of a film with an M rating to watch it and decide whether it is suitable for her children (Gough 2015). It needs to take into account opinions of ones who directly consume media, in order to prevent it from ‘deciding for those it does not represent‘ (Guy 2012).
Gough, D 2015, Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Why the M rating is confusing for parents, Sydney Morning Herald, viewed September 23rd 2016, <http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/movies/star-wars-the-force-awakens-why-the-m-rating-is-confusing-for-parents-20151215-glolje.html>.
Guy, G 2012, Classification board: deciding for those they (don’t) represent, ABC News, viewed September 23rd 2016, <http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-01-03/guy-classification-board-making-decisions/3755220>.
Reilly, C 2015, Classification board bans 219 games in 4 months, but clears 150,000, CNet, viewed September 2016, <http://www.cnet.com/au/news/australian-classification-bans-219-games-clears-150000/>.