Friday 19 February 2016

There's a Light(box)

New Zealand's regime for classifying streaming content is nonsensical. And Lightbox is pushing back.

As reminder: broadcast content comes with content ratings provided by industry. A broadcaster would not earn kudos from its viewers by putting porn on a G rating; they have incentive to get this stuff right.

DVDs and movies shown in cinemas, by contrast, have to be rated by OFLC. OFLC's view is that Kiwis need standardised New Zealand ratings and that industry self-rating isn't good enough. But their rating scheme is expensive. It's long been a hindrance for art-house films: high fixed costs screw over low volume content where those fixed costs can't be spread over a broad base.

And OFLC has wanted jurisdiction over streaming.

Tom Pullar-Strecker has an excellent piece for the Fairfax papers going through the whole mess.
Spark may stop submitting Lightbox programmes to censors for classification, amid confusion over the legal obligations faced by internet television providers.

Lightbox chief executive Kym Niblock stressed the Spark online television subsidiary would continue to label programmes itself so viewers had an idea as to whether they were appropriate for them to watch.

...Spark said it had received conflicting information from experts, noting that after getting advice, it had decided to submit Lightbox programmes that were new to New Zealand to the Film and Video Labelling Body (FVLB) for classification. Those programmes included the likes of Outlander and Black Sails, some episodes of which were classified as R16.

But Niblock said submitting programmes to the FVLB cost Lightbox "a great deal of money" and it was now reviewing its process to "see whether or not we will stop that".

"If we can get the same outcome in a different way, then clearly we are going to want to not spend that cash," she said.
I wish Lightbox every success here. New Zealand has enough problems getting content; adding stupid unnecessary fixed costs doesn't help.

HT: @DuncanJones

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