New self-regulation system to replace theatre censors

After censorship row, theatre producers get right to decide age limits for their audiences

Anti-censorship protests prompted by last year's ban on Stitching and obscenity charges against a novelist are beginning to yield results.
Anti-censorship protests prompted by last year's ban on Stitching and obscenity charges against a novelist are beginning to yield results.

Updated at 4:45pm.

The furore over censorship that marked 2011's ban on the play Stitching may have paid off, after tourism and culture minister Mario de Marco today unveiled a draft law for the self-regulation of theatre productions.

With the appeal by Stitching producers Unifaun Theatre against a court decision upholding the ban of the controversial Anthony Nielsen play yet to be heard, de Marco said a new system of self-regulation will allow producers to set age limits for audiences on new guidelines.

The four-member guidance board, which replaces the film and stage classification board that had banned the play, will issue guidelines to be adopted by stage producers when awarding an age-classification to the production and to assist producers who seek its counsel by suggesting appropriate age-classifications for their stage productions, or confirming the age-classification given by the producer and director in the first instance.

The board will be chaired by Adrian Mamo, chairman of the Malta Council for Culture and Arts.

The proposed roles of the guidance board also include the presentation of complaints from the general public about the age-classification given to a production with the Board issuing its advice on whether the age-classification should be reviewed or not. Such advice is not binding on the producer and director, however it must be made public in order to better inform the public.

Members of the general public will have the faculty of complaining against age limits they deem to be too low, with the guidance board.

Following the launch of the National Cultural Policy in July 2011, which called for the updating of laws regulating freedom of expression, the government has launched for public consultation the amendments to the Stage and Film Classification. The consultation process is open for a period of three weeks and ends on the 7 February 2012.
 
De Marco said today the amendments are a positive step forward that will strengthen the spirit of cooperation between artists and authorities and encouraged them to participate in the consultation process.

Film and Theatre classification in Malta is regulated in the Cinema and Stage Regulations, enacted in 1937 under the Code of Police Laws. The regulations establish the board of film and stage classification, which has the power to award age-classifications to films, stills, trailers and posters and to dramatic and other stage productions.
 
The amendments proposed move towards a system of self-regulation where the producer and director and in some instances, the venue, are responsible for setting the age-classification of a performance. The amendments also propose that regulations are transferred from under the Code of Police laws and brought under the Malta Council for Culture and the Arts Act; and that stage and theatre classification practices are amended to allow for self-classification for theatrical productions.
 
Amendments on the film industry include the reconstitution of the existing Board to a Board of Film Age-Classification, which shall be responsible for the a priori classification of films. The Board of Film Age-Classification will be placed under a duty to publish the age-classifications given to films, citing the reasons for such a classification. The proposed amendments include the creation of a film Appeals Board to hear appeals from the aggrieved party in connection with the age-classification given to a named film.
 
With regard to stage regulations, the proposed amendments include the removal of the board’s role of classifying dramatic and other stage productions, whilst placing such responsibility on the producer or director of the production through a self-regulation system.

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LOL about bloody time . Mario Demarco fishing for the liberal vote and possible leadership contest gearing up ! :)) Will Ms Friggieri be sitting on this board?
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Stefan Mifsud
Clearly in election mode.
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Stefan Mifsud
Clearly in election mode.