Can this be right? Is it an April Fool’s joke a month early? Have the lads from The Chaser been doing their stuff? As Margaret Simons reports in today’s Crikey:

The Government plans to pass legislation in the autumn session aimed at regulating all content – including text and still images – using the film classification system as the standard.

Crikey understands that publishers would have to submit for classification all material to be delivered electronically – including book and magazine content. Any content that gained an MA or R classification would have to be subject to an approved age restricted access system.

Fresh from its ignominious handling of media ownership — the much-vaunted legislation which triggered billions of dollars of deals but still hasn’t been enacted – and its excruciating attempts to bring Australia into the broadband era, the federal government is now turning its mind to … media censorship.

What the government is apparently proposing, according to a report in Bookseller and Publisher yesterday and in Crikey today, is that all published material in any medium will have to be classified, and the classification of text and still images will be regulated by using film classification guidelines.

Does this mean that all newspapers, magazines and websites will require a government classification before they publish? Does the government plan to establish a vast censorship apparatus to handle the millions of words and images that will require vetting each day?

If that’s what the government is planning, there’s just one thing left to say. Welcome back, Dr Goebbels.

Peter Fray

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