Australia cracks down on TV violence

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SYDNEY -- Tougher television classifications for violent programs and for news coverage of brutal events and tragedies are about to be introduced here, following the industry's first review of its code of practice since self-regulation began in 1993. The new code will come into force March 1.

Tony Branigan, general manager of the Federation of Australian Commercial Television Stations (FACTS), says the changes were partly in response to community feelings following the Port Arthur massacre of 36 people by a lone gunman last April.

A new, more strict classification, AV (for Adult Violent), will be introduced to cover programs and films deemed too violent to be rated under the present highest rating, MA (Mature Audiences).

Such films as Pulp Fiction and Basic Instinct would be rated AV, and could not be shown before 9.30 p.m.

News and current affairs crews will now have to take all possible steps to ensure accident victims are not identified before families have been notified by authorities. They must also "show appropriate regard to the feelings of relatives and viewers when including images of dead or seriously wounded people".

In another change, hosts of children's TV programs have been banned from advertising products.

Copyright February 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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