Australia looks At media violence; recommends V-chips

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CANBERRA -- The Federal Government has announced plans to overhaul Australia's censorship regime. The state is under pressure to curb violent programs on television, at the cinema and in other media in the wake of last April's Port Arthur massacre in which 35 people were slain by a lone gunman. The government is calling for greater representation by parents and "members of the wider community" on regulatory boards.

Communications Minister Senator Richard Alston says the government will also recommend that all new TV sets incorporate a V-chip to allow parents to stop violent TV programs being seen by their children. Alston stopped short of making V-chips compulsory.

Alston says all R-rated films will be reviewed to check whether they should be reclassified as MA (the most severe rating) and banned for screening before 9:30p.m. Australia already has a widely-praised TV program classification system which also applies to videos and cinema and is soon to be extended to CDs and records.

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