An SBS documentary about the final year of World War II in Europe has been found to have breached the SBS Code of Practice after an Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) investigation found it exceeded its program classification.
The program Hitler’s Last Year was classified by the broadcaster as PG and was broadcast on SBS at 5.30pm on 20 March 2021.
ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin said that SBS classified the program as PG, enabling it to be broadcast at any time of the day. However, in accordance with the SBS Code of Practice, depictions of violence in PG programs should be mild in impact and not shown in detail.
“The classification system is an important guide for the public so they can make informed decisions about whether a program is suitable viewing for them,” Ms O’Loughlin said.
“While the documentary by virtue of its topic is distressing and has educational merit for children and adults alike, the depictions of violence and treatment of themes in the documentary that went to air went beyond what can be accommodated under the PG classification category.”
The ACMA found that the broadcast exceeded the PG requirements for depictions of violence to be mild in impact and not be shown in detail. The ACMA also found that the frequency, level of detail of the discussion and visual illustration of distressing themes had a cumulative impact that was not mild and may have been disturbing to some children.
As a result of the investigation, SBS will include the findings in staff training and explore ways of facilitating its audiences making better informed decisions around historical documentaries.