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New free-to-air television programme classifications to come into effect next month

For the first time in decades, changes are being made to how free-to-air programmes are rated in a bid to protect kids from harmful content.

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Ratings such as PGA and AO are being replaced in a bid to protect children from harmful content. Source: Breakfast

Time-bands and classifications will be adjusted, with ratings such as parental guidance adults only being replaced with more detailed categories already used by pay television and movies.

The Broadcasting Standards Authority said in February when they first announced the changes the new code reflects the changing way New Zealanders watch television.

"Television viewing habits and technology have changed dramatically since the timebands and classifications were introduced in 1989," BSA chair Judge Bill Hastings said.

"Viewers are increasingly accustomed to using time-shifting technology to watch content at a time that suits them. Importantly, parental locks are now available on all FTA enabled televisions, which allows viewers to manage television content in their homes.

"Audiences told us they wanted more guidance from classifications, particularly to break down the ‘AO’ rating into age guides for mature content, so the choices are clearer."

Specifically, G and PG content can be played at any time. M content may be aired between 9am and 3pm, except for on school and public holidays, and after 7.30pm until 5am on any day. Content classified 16 and 18 may not be played during the day. Content classified 16 content may only be broadcast after 8.30pm and content classified 18 may only be broadcast after 9.30pm.

The changes come into effect on May 1.