back to article Australia imposes parental lock for digital TVs

The Australian Communications Media Authority (ACMA) has searched for several months for a "technical standard to make parental lock a required feature of digital television receivers" sold in Australia. The fruits of its labours are published this week as The Broadcasting and Datacasting Services (Parental Lock) Technical …


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  1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    A shift in responsibility

    "parental lock is entirely uncontroversial, as it is not government but parents who decide"

    That certainly *shouldn't* be uncontroversial.

    In the absence of locking, broadcasters know that anything they might transmit may be seen by impressionable folks, and they also know that courts will take that into account if matters go that way. With locking universally available as a standard feature, it becomes possible for broadcasters to argue that it is the parents' job to configure tellys properly and so the broadcasters can transmit anything they like as long as it is properly tagged.

    That may or may not be a Good Thing. It is certainly a significant change to the regulatory environment that has prevailed in just about every country since the introduction of TV.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Are the aussies infants?

    Paranoid or mentally unstable?

    Please smack the next brit, who complains of "nanny state", squarely in their face!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      "Please smack the next brit, who complains of "nanny state", squarely in their face!"

      I predict a Daily Fail exclusive on a sudden and as yet unexplained outbreak of black eyes and other facial welts suffered by it's readership.

  3. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    Do they know something we don't know?

    Is Australia expecting a great Pedofils (or paediatricians) invasion? They seem to be in such panic about it...

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It'll never work.

    The Americans imposed the 'V-Chip' on their tellies which uses some sort of teletext-style flag to signify naughty content. Most parents don't even know the feature is there, or how to set it up. A lot of kids know how to get round it (a factory reset i'd presume).

  5. A J Stiles

    Better idea

    I'd be more impressed if they insisted for broadcasters to include a flag to show whether the content is editorial or advertising; which can then be picked up on by licence payers' apparatus to prevent recording advertisements, initiate an automatic channel change, or whatever.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Channel 4 experimented with this.

      Sending an OTA flag to VCRs' that supported the feature. Then the advertisers caught wind and pointed out where their funding comes from.

      1. A J Stiles

        That's why

        That's why such an initiative would have to be mandated by Government.

  6. Hugh Jorgen

    Next bill up for consideration

    The Arse Wiping Bill 2010 - since Australains aren't capable of wiping their own arse without government intervention this bill will hopefully address the concern of unscrubbed rings on public seating.

    I fuckin HATE blanket restrictions like this. If I want to watch certain catch up TV programmes through the day I have to enter a PIN on the STB. I phoned Telewest and asked if this could be completely disabled.......I NEVER have children under 18 in the house, WTF do I need a fuckin PIN for to watch a 15 rated documentary at 11am on a Saturday? In fact, WTF would anyone with access to my TV need one for?

    Epic fail........

    1. Anonymous Coward

      i'm confused

      wtf are you doing watching telly at 11 on a saturday morning? you should still be sleeping off your hangover from friday night.

      and wtf are you doing with telewest? they're so shit they make bt look good.

  7. s. pam Silver badge

    Who Cares -- Oz is the 53rd US state anyway

    Having moved back from Sydney to Blighty a few months ago, as 99.9% of their tele (except Underbelly and Sea Patrol) are US originated content, they can just force the V-chip on the population as they do with everything else Ozzie branded that is just regurgitated/branded US stuff anyway.

    No sense challenging/changing the norm of the world's biggest nanny state afterall!!!!!

    1. LaeMing

      Not really 53rd state.

      Actually states 53 thru 60.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    On balance

    Plus: Parents get to decide what classifications to allow.

    Minus: The classification is certainly not decided upon by parents.

    Consider: Assumption that parents need the hardware to enforce their parenting on their children. Realistically, most won't know how to use it.

    I find it amazing that we need non-interactive systems to show our politicians how "for the children" filtering ought to be done instead of pushing trough mandatory filters where opt in or opt out would be much more easily attainable with finer grain. Best of all, if the government had any balls it'd let society sort it out itself, like those "god filtered" ISPs that cater to a certain god fearing audience. It mostly shows how much blocking power politicians can be trusted with. Not very much at all.

    Increasingly I tend to the belief that it's the politicians that need the filtering, as in, put them in straitjackets and make sure they take their tranqs on time. So vote sex party. A good romp and you're too dazed to rain "for your own good" hate on your voters.

  9. John Savard

    Only Problem I Can Think Of

    Making parental lock capability mandatory on all televisions adds to their manufacturing cost.

    More importantly, since the signal for a program's rating in Australia isn't the same as that used in other countries with the same television system, banning import of receivers without the parental lock allows the Australian market to be segmented out by manufacturers.

    So while the former might increase the price of a TV set by pennies, the latter could easily have a much bigger effect.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      Having worked in the industry of designing and making TV for many years I can tell you that the software in TVs is different for each country anyway. Each country has different standards and different regulations and so the TV software has to be appropriately modified to account for this. Even if you can't SEE the differences, they are there. Even between the European countries where the actual TV standard is (mostly) similar, there can be significant country-specific differences that must be accounted for. And if you try and use a TV from one country in another one, you might find that it won't work properly anyway. Not because of some evil manufacturer who's trying to lock you into a specific product, but because the standards are different.

      So that blows your "increased cost" argument out of the water.

      On a more general point, "parental lock" is built into many many TV and set top box devices. Most of the ones sold in the UK and many other countries have a parental lock system. It costs virtually nothing to implement, and if you are a parent, it's a GOOD thing if you want to stop your kiddies watching stuff that you consider inappropriate. If you don't want to use it then ignore it - no one is making you use it.

      If Oz had just passed a law saying that parental lock should NOT be available, then we would now have a bunch of idiots complaining about that instead!

  10. Harry

    Except that ...

    "it is not government but parents who decide"

    ... but I wonder how many parents will be puzzled by the instruction manual and need to ask their children to help them set it up.

    And though its supposed to be for the parents to decide, it won't be long before some irresponsible individual or organisation with too much clout starts publicly branding those who choose not to enable it as irresponsible.

  11. Steve Brooks

    brains of a hamster!

    "... but I wonder how many parents will be puzzled by the instruction manual and need to ask their children to help them set it up." Our great politician, Steven Conroy (yes the very same), admitted that he was stumped on how to set up his own set-top-box and had to get help, and that his 4 yo daughter locked him out of his own phone....obviously this system is designed for someone with slightly more nounce than the proverbial commnication minister.

  12. TeeCee Gold badge

    Parental lock?

    The kiddies are going to be upset when they can't watch "Outback chainsaw lesbians lust lavatory fest XIV"!

    Won't somebody think of the children FFS!

  13. Anonymous Coward

    How is it that a nation founded by Felons is a bunch of wussies?


    Of all the nations becoming nanny states I certainly would not have expected if from a nation founded by felons. Were they really really polite violent criminals? Apparently so.....

    Skull and crossbones because well, pirates were felons too....

  14. James Micallef Silver badge

    Have they nothing better???

    Is Australia such a paradise on earth in every respect that various government entities have nothing better to do than this twaddle?

  15. Bilby

    @ AC: How is it that a nation founded by Felons is a bunch of wussies?

    We aren't. This nation, founded as a prison, has rules for EVERYTHING. If it isn't mandatory, it is forbidden. That is because the entire Govt since the first fleet has been based on the idea that they are running a jail first, and a nation second.

    Fortunately the nation founded by felons (a subset of the one founded as a prison) are NOT 'wussies', and we simply ignore and/or ridicule our Govt, and get on with surfing, BBQs and footy in the sunshine.

    If you study Australian Federal and State Law, you will see that we have a totalitarian system. If, on the other hand, you get off your arse, and on a plane, and come and have a look, you will find that (unlike the Poms and the Seppos) we treat the law with the disdain it deserves, and have a bloody good time instead of worrying about the wowsers in Parliament and their crazy schemes to save us from ourselves.

    Beer icon, 'cos XXXX does not indicate censorship...

  16. Alex Bailey

    Isn't this already happening in the UK?

    For several years now I've been unable to watch certain films on my Sky subscription without having to enter my 4 digit PIN code first... and despite living alone with no children in the house AND having turned off all of the parental controls Sky tell me that Offcom won't let them turn the feature off.

  17. Sam Therapy

    Re: A shift in responsibility

    Not really, except the burden of control will now be placed on the parents, rather than relying on the "watershed" system we have in the UK. In any case, parents should exercise control over the stuff their kids watch, in the same way that parents should teach their kids basic social skills, manners, how to read etc. Last time I checked, it was called "parenting".

    My little lad is at the age where things like Waybuloo and Driver Dan are top flight entertainment. I'll certainly monitor and - if necessary - control his viewing habits and material as he gets older. Besides which, I don't want him to be stuck in front of the telly/playing video games/surfing the net all his childhood.

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