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Government to overhaul digital media laws

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 21/08/2016
'House of Cards' drops exciting new trailer: Frank Underwood doesn't play by the rules in 'House of Cards' but Netflix, which makes the show, will have to to stay in NZ. © Entertainment Frank Underwood doesn't play by the rules in 'House of Cards' but Netflix, which makes the show, will have to to stay in NZ.

The government wants Netflix and its rivals to play by the same rules as broadcasters.

Broadcasting Minister Amy Adams on Sunday announced a government plan to revamp the laws governing on-demand media providers, such as Netflix and Lightbox.

Under the proposed changes, the companies' content would fall under the rules of the Broadcasting Act - which sets the standards for television stations.

"On-demand content is either regulated inconsistently or not at all, which can potentially expose the public to harm, as all content is not subject to the same classification standard," Ms Adams said.

She said there was confusion about whether on-demand content should be covered by the Broadcasting Act, the Film, Videos, and Publications Classification Act, or not at all - and that the changes would clarify that.

The changes would not affect user-generated content - such as Facebook videos - and would exclude news and current affairs.

Ms Adams said the TV and radio watchdog - the Broadcasting Standards Authority - would administer the new standards system that would require on-demand content to meet the same classification and content requirements as for broadcasters.news

"As a trusted public sector agency, I consider the BSA is well placed to take on this expanded role," Ms Adams said.

In another proposal, Ms Adams said the government was also looking at allowing broadcasters to include advertising on Sunday mornings during significant events - such as the Rugby World Cup.

The ad restrictions would stay in place for Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Anzac Day and Christmas Day, she said.

The reforms are part of a broader government "convergence" plan, which has included the so-called "Netflix tax", a cyber-security action plan and a review of telecommunication laws.

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