How did this happen?

December 11, 2023

A parent has sent us her concerns about a trailer seen recently by her children. We’re sharing it as this month’s Talking Point.

How did this happen?

During our Sunday morning children’s cartoons viewing on 9Go on October 22, I saw the following commercial for the streaming service, Stan’s, latest show “Billy the Kid”.  The commercial for the M rated show was repeated several times during the 2hour G and PG children’s cartoon session. After 2hrs of having to sit with my kid, and changing the channel and change it back, I ended up turning off the TV.

The full trailer showed men shooting at each other in a gun fight, threatening people with guns, and a man walking away from a burning house holding a gun.

I made a complaint to the Advertising Standards Panel specifically that commercials for M rated movies should not be shown during children’s G and PG rated viewing slots. My complaint was dismissed.

According to the Advertising Standards Community Panel, it is justifiable to show children a trailer where people are shooting guns at each other while they watch Care Bears, Tom & Jerry and Pokemon.

Apparently it is ok to show M rated stylised violence from an M movie to small children.

How did this happen?

A quick view of the AANA Code of Ethics shows some fairly large loopholes in the code.

While Section 2.5 of the Code specifies that “Language” shall be appropriate to the relevant audience… Section 2.3, which addresses violence, does not have that level of specificity.  Section 2.3 uses the term “justifiable”, specifically, “justifiable in the context of the product or service advertised”.  With no definition for “justifiable”.

Additionally, no mention of the rating codes are mentioned, ie provision that M rated content not be shown during a children’s cartoons session (FreeTV Code 2.4.4).

And while there is a Childrens Advertising Code, it does not mention advertising of M rated content during children’s viewing times.

How did this happen?

It seems the AANA (, who are the owners of the standard, are a PRIVATE industry organisation. Not managed by government. And while they advertise that their Membership is allowed to have their say regarding the code….. their membership is priced to industry (thousands of dollars) and excludes community and households (the receivers of the advertising). The AANA have been approached many times over the last decade by organisations, such as Children and Media Australia, regarding these shortcomings in the code, with no progress on protecting kids and families. Here are some links to actions they’ve taken in the past on the trailers issue.

Additionally, there is confusion and gaps in the regulatory environment, where free to air and streaming service do not appear to have consistency regarding regulation bodies. The children’s programs and ads on 9GO are subject to both the FreeTV Code of Practice and AANA Codes. The relevant clauses in FreeTV code are 2.1.1 and 2.4 4. Programs/ads on STAN ( being a streaming service) are not subject to FreeTV Codes, only the AANA.

How did this happen?

Well, it seems that the Commonwealth Government’s regulatory framework only addresses ads directed to children within a very limited scope of programs (ie those classified C or P – and few cartoons fall into this category), and so it lacks control over what advertisers show our children with regards to violence in ads.

Given the current problem USA is having with mass shootings,

Given the care the Commonwealth Govt has invested in gun control,

Given the investment the Commonwealth and State Governments are making in managing cyber bullying, and cyber violence specifically with regards to children,

Given the AANA proudly advise that they adhere to the EACU (European) best practice code, which includes social responsibility,

Given that it can be demonstrated that there have been numerous efforts by many many many other concerned parents, and parent and child protection bodies of this shortfall in the Code…,

the question begs –

How is the government allowing advertisers to regulate themselves, in an environment that has allowed M rated content to be advertised and (debatedly) shown during PG and G rated viewing hours – just because it is not specifically prohibited in the regulations and standards that they write for themselves?

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