24 February 2010
ACMA to develop a parental lock standard for digital television receivers
The Australian Communications and Media Authority is seeking industry and public comment on the determination of a technical standard that will make parental lock a required feature for digital television receivers. A parental lock is a feature of digital television receivers which allows controlled access to programs based on their classification, for example, G, PG, M or MA.
‘Mandating the inclusion of parental lock in digital receivers will support parents and guardians in protecting their children from inappropriate or harmful content on television,’ said ACMA Chairman, Chris Chapman.
‘The ACMA will determine a technical standard in the second quarter of this year that will require domestic reception equipment used for receiving digital television services to have a parental lock capability.
‘The ACMA’s primary aim is to ensure this standard meets consumer needs for an appropriate and effective protection mechanism for their children. This is best achieved through consultation to assist in the development of a standard that is clear, unambiguous and readily understood by industry,’ Mr Chapman said.
The ACMA has developed a discussion paper to outline the approach it intends to take in determining the parental lock standard, and now seeks comment on a number of issues concerning determination of this technical standard.
The ACMA is seeking to understand industry and public views on:
- whether there are any particular types of digital television receivers that should be exempt from meeting the requirements of the standard;
- the need for labelling and record-keeping obligations as part of the compliance arrangements that accompany the standard; and
- the date by which equipment supplied to the market should comply with the standard.
The ACMA will consider submissions received before it determines the parental lock standard. The closing date for comment is 2 April 2010.
The discussion paper, Mandating parental lock in domestic reception equipment — Determination of a technical standard under Part 9A of Broadcasting Services Act 1992, is available on the ACMA website.
Media contact: Donald Robertson, ACMA Media Manager on (02) 9334 7980.
Parental lock capability is the ability of a device to limit access to programs above a preset classification level without the use of a personal identification number (PIN). Parents can use this feature of digital television receivers to limit their children’s access to inappropriate or harmful content. Television classification guidelines are available in Appendix 4 to the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice 2010.
The ACMA will determine a technical standard under subsection 130B(1) of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (BSA) to ensure that domestic reception equipment used for receiving digital television broadcasting or datacasting services has a parental lock capability. The standard will be determined in response to the Ministerial Direction - Australian Communications and Media Authority (Development of Technical Standards for Domestic Digital Television Reception Equipment) Direction No. 1 of 2009 made by the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy on 21 October 2009.
The ACMA’s powers to determine technical standards in relation to the transmission and reception of television services in digital mode are set out in Part 9A of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (BSA). Part 9A of the BSA provides that the ACMA may, by legislative instrument, determine technical standards that relate to domestic reception equipment that is capable of receiving television broadcasting services and datacasting services transmitted in digital mode using the broadcasting services bands.
This will be the first standard determined by the ACMA under section 130B(1) of the BSA.
Following the commencement date specified within the technical standard it will be an offence to supply domestic reception equipment that is capable of receiving television broadcasting services or datacasting services transmitted in digital mode, if the equipment does not comply with the requirements in the technical standard.
Submissions should be sent to DigitalTV.Consumer&ResearchSection@acma.gov.au. Further information can also be obtained by emailing this address.