Under the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993, a film is defined as a cinema film, video recording, computer game or any other medium with moving images.
All films in New Zealand must be rated or classified, and labelled, before they are released to the public (except those exempted under section 8 of the Act). Ratings and classifications provide consumer information on the audience suitability of films.
Publications other than films do not have to be labelled before release to the public, but suppliers are responsible for ensuring that all material is supplied to the public appropriately.
Publications that may be restricted or objectionable can be submitted directly to the Classification Office by:
The Office will assess publications, using the same criteria as for films. The Office can:
Anyone who disagrees with a decision made by the Office can apply to have a publication reviewed under section 47 of the Act by the Film and Literature Board of Review, in the same way as films.
The Act establishes a three-tier system for rating and classifying films:
All films supplied to the public must be submitted to the Labelling Body.
The Labelling Body:
Labels can only be affixed to films once they have been rated or classified.
The Labelling Body can rate a film and issue a label if:
The film has been previously rated or classified in New Zealand prior to the creation of the Office. If so, the Labelling Body can assign an equivalent label under the current Act.
The film has been given an unrestricted rating by the Australian Classification Board or UK BBFC. On viewing the film, the Labelling Body assesses the content as unrestricted.
The Labelling Body will submit a film to the Classification Office if:
The Labelling Body acts as the agent for distributors when films are submitted to the Office. Questions about films in the process of being classified should be addressed to the Labelling Body rather than the Office.
This FLOWCHART illustrates the process that the Labelling Body must follow.
The Office is responsible for classifying all films submitted to it.
Films can be submitted to the Office by:
The Office can ban or restrict the availability of a film, impose display conditions on a restricted publication, or assign it an unrestricted classification. Restrictions imposed by the Office are legally enforceable.
Anyone who disagrees with a decision made by the Office can apply to have a film reviewed under section 47 of the Act by the Film and Literature Board of Review.
Anyone other than enforcement officials or owners of a publication must obtain leave of the Secretary of Internal Affairs before they can apply to the Board. They may also apply for an interim restriction order, to prevent the publication being made available until the classification is finalised.
The Board of Review is an independent body administered by the Department of Internal Affairs. It reviews the film rather than the original decision, and makes an entirely new decision based on its own viewing of the film.
When reviewing a film, the Board will apply the same criteria that the Office uses when making a decision.
More information about the Board of Review can be found on the website of the Department of Internal Affairs.