Debate on Digital Age Censorship

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision will host a public panel discussion in Wellington, that tackles the challenges of censorship in an age of high speed internet and international digital distribution.
Poster image: Actress Ngaire Porter holding a censorship sign at New Regent Theatre, Lower Hutt. Evening Post, 1958. Alexander Turnbull Library.

The event, at 6.30pm on 17 November at Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision, 84 Taranaki St, is part of a two-week programme to mark 100 years of film censorship in New Zealand.

The panel includes:
  • Chief Censor Dr Andrew Jack 
  • sexual violence awareness campaigner and barrister Denise Ritchie
  • Aro Video owner and censorship reform advocate Andrew Armitage
  • NZ International Film Festival director Bill Gosden

"Censorship has been a topic of debate since it was introduced in 1916 – and never more so than it is now. Never before has the public had so much access to audiovisual material via so many channels," says panel facilitator Diane Pivac of Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision.

"We’ve invited a panel that brings a whole range of viewpoints to the discussion. We’re asking how do new technologies change and challenge censorship? And how equipped are our regulators to meet these challenges?" says Diane.

"The Government is moving ahead with classification of online entertainment content, but is censorship still relevant?

"And how do we balance the public’s right to freedom of expression against concern over young people’s ease of access to potentially harmful material?"

Noting a recent Government announcement proposing reforms to online media classification laws, Chief Censor Dr Andrew Jack says he welcomes the opportunity to participate.

"Important changes are coming and public debate is essential if we’re going to ensure a system that is workable, fair, and helps protect our young people from access to potentially harmful content," says Dr Jack.

The panel debate is part of CENSORED – 100 Years of Film Censorship in NZ – a two-week programme featuring films that were once banned by New Zealand censors, documentaries, censors’ offcuts and discussion.

Panelist Biographies

Panellists (from top left): Andrew Jack, Denise Ritchie, Andrew Armitage, Bill Gosden.

Dr Andrew Jack, Chief Censor.
MA (Hons), LLB, PhD, MPP, Barrister & Solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand
Andrew holds undergraduate degrees in Greek and Law, Masters degrees in Public policy and Ancient History, and a Ph.D in Law.
Andrew was admitted to the Bar in 1992 and worked in in-house legal roles for the New Zealand Police and the New Zealand Customs Service until March 2011 when the Governor-General appointed him Chief Censor. As Chief Censor Andrew is also the Chief Executive of the Office of Film and Literature Classification, an Independent Crown Entity charged with protecting the public, in particular children, from the harm caused by unrestricted exposure to objectionable material.

Andrew Armitage
Andrew Armitage is an entrepreneur, film-lover and, since 1989, owner of Wellington’s video library, Aro Video. In his efforts to bring a comprehensive range of material to New Zealand film lovers, Andrew is a strong advocate for reform in the New Zealand censorship system. He argues that while classification is important, the New Zealand system is a blunt, expensive tool that shuts out legitimate films and film makers, and lacks consistency across distribution channels.

Denise Ritchie, Barrister 
BA Hons Psych, LLB Hons
Denise is founder of Stop Demand, an organisation that works to reduce demand that drives the global sex trade. It calls for action to stop all forms of sexual violence, sexual exploitation and sexual denigration of women and children. In New Zealand Denise has spearheaded law reforms on child sex tourism and child sex abuse image offending. She has led various public campaigns targeting the hardcore porn industry, and the sexual denigration of women by corporates and mainstream entertainment and sports media.  As part of her global work, this year Denise spent time in northeast Nigeria working alongside barrister Aisha Wakil aka Mama Boko Haram and meeting with Boko Haram commanders to negotiate the safe return of the missing Chibok girls.

Bill Gosden, MNZM
BG has been Director of the New Zealand International Film Festival – and its predecessors – for 35 years, maintaining and expanding its popularity through decades of rapid change in the media landscape. Bill became the administrator of the New Zealand Federation of Film Societies and the Wellington Film Festival in 1979 and was appointed the Federation's Programme Director in 1980. He was designated director of the Auckland International and Wellington Film Festivals after overseeing their amalgamation in 1984. In subsequent years he has overseen the expansion of NZIFF into a national event.

CENSORED – 100 Years of Film Censorship in NZ is supported by Mānatū Taonga Ministry for Culture & Heritage.

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