Wed, Dec 01, 2004 - Page 4 News List

New rating system for books, videos begins today

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

The rating systems for books, audio and video publications will go into effect today.

According to the Measure Governing the Rating Systems of Publications and Pre-recorded Video Programs (出版品及錄影節目帶分級辦法) -- promulgated in August this year, books, audio or video programs carrying restricted content should not be made available to audiences under the age of 18.

Books and audio publications are rated into two categories: general and restricted.

Restricted content for books and audio publications is defined as material containing "over-description" of such criminal behaviors as killing, kidnapping or drug dealing; "over-portraying" of the process of suicide; "dramatic depiction" of violent, bloody and deviant scenes but acceptable by general adult audiences and languages, conversations, sounds, pictures or graphics portraying sexual behaviors, obscene plots or bare human sex organs -- but not abhorrent for adult audiences.

Such restricted publications should carry a label on the cover reading "R rated: not available for 18 and under." The size of the label should not take up less than one-50th of the total area of the cover, the measure indicates.

Publishers refusing to label restricted publications can opt to wrap them up in plastic bags or sell them at special sections of the store. The section, however, must carry a sign reading, "no one aged 18 and under is allowed to rent or purchase."

Violators will be subject to a fine of between NT$100,000 and NT$500,000, according to the Children and Juveniles Welfare Law (兒童及少年福利法). Serious offenders can also be asked to suspend publication for a month or up to one year.

Video programs are rated into four categories under the measure. The "G" rating is for general audiences of all ages. A "P" rating, or protection rating means that children aged 6 and under are not permitted to view the material. P-rated materials are permitted for children aged between 7 and 12, and must be accompanied by a parent or adult. The PG rating requires parental or adult guidance for audiences between 12 to 18-years-old. The "R" rating disallows anyone under the age of 18 from viewing the material.

Restricted content for video programs has a similar definition with that for books and audio publications. Video programs with restricted content must also carry a label with a warning message on the front and back of its packaging. Pictures or words on the front and back covers of packaging must not contain any restricted material.

Like explicit publications, restricted video programs must be confined to special sections of a store and carry a sign reading: "no one aged 18 and under is allowed to rent or purchase."

Huang Jien-ho (黃健和), general manager of Dala Publication Co specializing in books with spicy content, criticized the new rating system as "violent" and "ridiculous."

"Pornography is part of mass culture. It's not fair to deprive audiences of the right to read good books," Huang was quoted by a local evening paper as saying.

Before the new rating system takes effect, books deemed to have restricted content are estimated to take up about 5 percent of the market. With the implementation of the new system, Huang told the newspaper he expected to see the number skyrocket to 30 percent.

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