26 August 1996
FILMS AND PUBLICATIONS BILL
The Films and Publications Bill returns to the Chamber this week after
amendment by the Home Affairs Portfolio Committee. The Bill defends freedom
of expression and freedom of choice, but it also improves the protection
of children against pornography and focuses on the protection of women
against both degradation and violent sexual abuse.
The Main Points of the Bill
The Films and Publications Bill provides for a new Board of Films and
- a ban on the import, production and distribution of all XX material,
including photographs of:
- child sex
- explicit sexual violence
- degrading sex which constitutes incitement to harm
- explicit violence which incites to harm
distribution of non-violent explicit sex (X18) material to licensed and
supervised adult outlets which are prevented from allowing children access
ethnicity, gender or religion, which constitutes incitement to harm
The Bill exempts bona fide literary, dramatic, documentary, scientific
and art works. Art works which contain photographs of child sex and a lewd
display of nude children are not exempted.
Material which falls outside the delineated areas would either be free
of restriction or subject to the general age restrictions and classifications.
The licensing of adult outlets would be the responsibility of local
authorities, and local residents would be allowed to make representations
to the authorities on their location.
In order to defend freedom of speech, material advocating hatred based
on race, ethnicity or gender will remain a matter for the courts, under
the Bill of Rights. The Films and Publications Board will be authorised
to ban the distribution of material advocating hatred based on religion
which incites harm. Newspapers and television are not covered by the Bill;
but are separately regulated.
Films and Publications Board
The proposed Films and Publications Board will be responsible for:
- the classification of films and video
- the banning of prohibited pornographic material in response to a complaint
from the public
- the supervision of licensed adult outlets and the imposition of sanctions
on those which violate their conditions.
The Board`s hearings would be open to the public and its decisions could
be challenged in appeal to a Review Board and to the Supreme Court.
Improvements on Current Legislation
The new Bill is a major improvement on current (and past) legislation.
It focuses on material which constitutes incitement to cause harm.
It defends freedom of speech, freedom of choice and privacy, where these
do not cause harm, by restricting the powers of regulators to intervening
only where complaints are made.
It eliminates confusion by specifying precisely what material is prohibited,
rather than prohibiting material on vague criteria such as `indecent`,
`obscene` or `offensive`.
It removes restricted material from general distribution by providing
for licensed adult premises.
It improves democratic accountability by giving local authorities powers
to regulate licensed adult premises and local residents a say in where
these premises should be located.
It improves democratic justice by allowing for a system of appeals.
ANC Key Lines
The Film and Publications Bill which will be debated this week has been
strengthened considerably by the many ANC amendments in Home Affairs Portfolio
The ANC amendments extend the protection of children against their
exposure to pornography.
The ANC amendments prohibit the broadcasting of XX material.
The ANC amendments extend the prohibition on XX material to import
The ANC amendments extend the prohibition on child pornography to
The ANC amendments remove the artistic exemption for child pornography.
The ANC amendments extend the prohibition to material which amounts
to propaganda for war, incites imminent violence or advocates hatred based
on race, ethnicity, gender or religion.
The ANC amendments extend prohibition to the import, production and
distribution of sexually-explicit material which degrades a person and
constitutes incitement to cause harm.
The ANC amendments increase maximum imprisonment for offences from
two to five years.