Some Content May Offend: Public Attitudes to Content Classifications and Warnings on Free-to-Air and Pay TV

Some Content May Offend: Public Attitudes to Conte...
01 Feb 2010

This research explored public awareness of, and satisfaction with, classifications and warnings used on New Zealand free‑to‑air and pay television.



The research aimed for a better understanding of public awareness and expectations of, and satisfaction with, content classifications and warnings currently used by free-to-air and pay TV broadcasters.


Our findings are based on focus group sessions and interviews with 88 parents or guardians of children aged between five and 17 years. They took place in Auckland.

Key Results

Parents use a range of tools and criteria (often trial and error) to decide on viewing suitability. Nevertheless, they see classifications and warnings as important guidelines in deciding what their children watch.

‘I’ll tell you what we’re looking for as parents these days …. We want to be validated, so we want to be able to say, ”No, that’s not okay,” and I want to be able to say “This is why,” so that the kids can understand it.’

Parents emphasise that while they don’t want to be told what they should be doing, they do want to be informed enough to make decisions affecting their households. Information, therefore, is the key role of classifications and warnings from the perspective of parents.

Alongside this is an expectation that classifications and warnings will be effectively communicated (so they can be understood and used). Communication of classifications and warnings to the New Zealand viewing public is not currently as clear as it could be; this is particularly the case with pay TV.

Page last modified: 15 Mar 2018