From the New Zealand TV Weekly 17 February 1969.

Over to you, Mr Shankland!

From April 1 next, the NZBC's Mr T. F. A. Shankland assumes new responsibilities as the country's Television Censor. Current practice is for recommendations on TV film entertainment to be left to the Government Film Censor in certain instances, but the evaluation of all small-screen entertainment shortly becomes the sole responsibility of corporation personnel, with Mr Shankland in the role of presiding judge to pronounce a final verdict in those cases where the viewing committee has failed to achieve a unanimous opinion

Censorship in Television can never be regarded as a sinecure. The greater proportion of overseas-produced material selected for the country's home screens poses no great problems, and censorship in its mildest form is practised with the time slots selected for the screening of various plays or series. Their content and theme dictate whether they appear in popular family times or later in the evenings, when a more mature audience is presumed to be watching.

While the cinema can impose age limits, and do all in its power to ensure that so-called adult fare reaches adult audiences, Television does not enjoy the same advantages, and can never be certain about the age groups of the audience it will be reaching in the living rooms of New Zealand homes, despite this censorship-by-scheduling. For this reason, TV censorship needs to be a far stricter operation than that enjoyed by its entertainment running-mate.

With the British and American film industries revelling in their new freedom to portray subjects that would have been taboo even ten years ago in our theatres, it becomes obvious that the number of occasions when the TV Censor will be called on to sit in final judgment on material ear-marked for small-screen viewing are likely to increase in the years ahead. There may even be a case for introducing a TV Censor's Certificate before a film goes on the air, indicating that it is regarded as acceptable viewing, with certain age restrictions.

To the daily Press a few weeks back, Mr Shankland reaffirmed-as many other NZBC executives have done before him-that public opinion plays a major role in formulating the corporation's screening policies. He did, however, add a refreshing proviso-We will try to keep in step with public opinion in future.

To be effective, Television censorship obviously has to strive to maintain an acceptable balance between overseas film material that was made primarily for the cinema and invariably tends to cater for the lowest common denominator in matters of taste, and those films, plays and stories produced with an artistic restraint that could be regarded as acceptable to Television's mass audience.

That New Zealand Television has acknowledged responsibility in the question of setting and maintaining its own entertainment standards is a logical, albeit long-delayed innovation.

Many people seem to think we put on the programmes we like, and to hell with what the public want, but this is not the case, Mr Shankland has said. We try to present a balanced diet of varied fare.

It's to be hoped that our screens provide us with just that in the viewing years ahead.-Over to you, Mr Shankland!

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