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television, Radio, Print

Broadcasters, advertisers and publishers are responsible for their own censorship, but there are official organisations to complain to. The Broadcasting Standards Authority deals with complaints about television and radio programmes while the Advertising Standards Authority and the Press Council do the same for advertising and print news.

Television and Radio

TV and radio are covered by the Broadcasting Act 1989, rather than the Classification Act. This means that the Classification Office has no authority over content or broadcast times, nor does a film have to be classified if it is intended only for broadcast. The classification and labelling regime applies only to films that are intended to be supplied or exhibited to the public. Broadcasting cannot be brought within the definition of "supply" and it is specifically excluded from the definition of "exhibited to the public".

There are only two times when film classifications have an effect on the broadcasting of a film. If a film has been cut or banned by the Office or any previous film censorship body, the broadcaster must obtain a waiver from the Chief Censor to show the film. Unless the permission of the Chief Censor is obtained such a film cannot be shown on television.

If you record a programme from the radio or the television, the copy becomes a publication under the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993. This is why DVDs of television series are classified and labelled before being sold.

Television and radio broadcasts are governed by the Broadcasting Act 1989. The appropriate body to contact regarding your inquiry is the broadcaster in the first instance (for example, TVNZ or TV3), then the Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA).

The contact details for the BSA are:

Broadcasting Standards Authority
2nd Floor, NZ Lotteries Commission Building
54-56 Cambridge Terrace
PO Box 9213
Freephone 0800 366 996
Fax 04 382 9543


If you have a complaint about an advertisement you should make it to the advertiser first. If you are not happy with the response you can take it to the Advertising Standards Complaints Board. This Board is responsible for hearing complaints on behalf of the advertising industry. They do not work within a legal framework, rather, they have a set of generally agreed codes which you can read on their website.

While print and film advertising are able to be classified under the Classification Act it is likely that any complaint about advertising will be referred on to the Advertising Standards Complaints Board. The Board will not consider an advertisement if it has been referred to the Office.

The contact details for the ASA are:

Advertising Standards Authority
PO Box 10-675
Freephone 0800 234 357
Fax: 04 471 1785


Any piece of printed material may be classified by the Office if a distributor, an interested party or a member of the public chooses to submit it. There is no automatic channel for print publications to be classified.

Newspapers are subject to their own editorial policies, which, to a certain extent, act as censorship. However, if you have a complaint about something that appeared in a newspaper, you can submit it to the Office. This is likely to take much longer than the paper is in circulation and the decision only applies to the particular thing submitted to the Office. Only one issue of a newspaper (New Truth and TV Extra) has ever been banned by the Office and in 2006 a single issue of the Otago student magazine Critic was classified objectionable.

An alternative to submitting newspapers to the Office is to contact the New Zealand Press Council. Like the Advertising Standards Authority, they do not work within a legal framework, but they have a set of principles that guide their decisions.


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