Wednesday 25 February 2015

Classification costs revisited

New Zealand's Censor's office is really quick on OIA requests.

A couple of weeks ago, when there was some fooferah about Canterbury Museum's having put on a t-shirt exhibition that included a Cradle of Filth t-shirt that was banned in New Zealand, I asked the Office of Film and Literature Classification, via twitter, how much it cost to ban the t-shirt. Since the shirt was available online for about $13 plus shipping, I expected that taxpayers spent rather more on banning the t-shirt than on buying it.*

OFLC got back to me very quickly, also on Twitter, with a cost of $971. I was pleasantly surprised; I'd expected it to have been worse. 

They emailed me today with the workings. 

Unfortunately, the figure is really just the average cost of classifying each item: their total expenditures in the 2007/08 fiscal year divided by the number of items classified. So it cost, in 2007/8, just under a thousand bucks per item classified.

Kate, the Information and Policy Manager at the Classification Office, also noted:
"There was one additional direct cost for the t-shirt. It had to be purchased. that was $240.95."
I hadn't specified cost-of-shirt in the OIA request, so that's why it wouldn't have been in the answering tweet.

Normally, they have to be provided a copy of the item to be classified, but the member of the public offended by the t-shirt and registering the complaint didn't have the t-shirt. I'm guessing, but have not checked, that the bulk of the cost there would have been rush shipping to New Zealand of one Cradle of Filth t-shirt.

Kate notes that the t-shirt remains in the possession of the Classification Office.

Whatever your views on the whole classification and censorship regime, their OIA practices are absolutely top-notch.

* The all-up costs of displaying it would almost certainly have been higher, though, as it needed its own protective cubby-hole where sensitive eyes might not see it; the whole display would not have been cheap.

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