Digital TV parental lock to become mandatory - updated

ACMA calls for feedback

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is seeking feedback from the industry and public on a standard that will make parental locks a mandatory feature of digital TV receivers.

A parental lock lets parents and guardians control access to programs based on classifications such as G, PG, M or MA. Many set top boxes and digital receivers already include a lock as an option but the changes mean every receiver sold in Australia would have to include the function. The standard would come into play from April this year.

“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,” ACMA chairman, Chris Chapman, said in a statement.

“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,” Chapman said.

The standard would come under Part 9A of Broadcasting Services Act 1992. ACMA has developed a discussion paper and is seeking comment 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
  • The date by which equipment supplied to the market should comply with the standard.

The closing date for feedback is 2 April 2010.

The number of people converting to digital TV is growing steadily; the results from the Digital Tracker survey found 61 per cent of households had converted by the end of 2009. Mildura Sunraysia will be the first region in Australia to go digital-only on 30 June. By the end of last year, 79 per cent of households had already converted. Regional South Australia and Broken Hill will follow, switching to digital-only in the second half of 2010.

The Digital Tracker survey is conducted quarterly as part of the switchover to digital television across Australia by 2013.

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Tags digital tvtelevisionACMAset-top boxes

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