The Government is exploring the possibility of making classifications for on-demand streaming services, such as Netflix and Lightbox, mandatory.

Minister of Internal Affairs Tracey Martin said this would bring streaming services in line with other forms of media in New Zealand.

The Government today started consultation on options on classifying content that is available online.

"The way in which New Zealanders access entertainment has changed and New Zealand's classifications system is not keeping pace."

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She said the current classification system was built around traditional platforms, such as cinema-released films and broadcast television programmes.

The Films, Videos and Publications Classification Act was passed in 1993.

But the media landscape has changed significantly since then.

A survey at the end of 2016 showed nearly two in five households had subscription video on demand services in the home. That number is likely to have increased since then.

"Many commercial video-on-demand services do self-classify content under a voluntary scheme provided by the New Zealand Media Council," Martin said.

But, she added, those classifications had not always been consistent with New Zealand's regime and some streaming service providers chose not to participate in the voluntary scheme.

"This inconsistency means it can be confusing for parents trying to pick something for their kids to watch or that helps young people make informed choices."

Martin said it was the risk of children being harmed that had driven the process.

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Research from the Chief Censor's office shows 76 per cent of New Zealanders are concerned about children's and teens' exposure to visual media content.

Almost 50 per cent of New Zealanders, the same data showed, were also worried the wide range of media platforms made it easier for children to access harmful media.

Martin said the reaction to the Netflix show "13 Reasons Why", which features graphic suicide scenes and scenes of rape, was an example of the issue.

"As with many services and media that have developed from the internet, this issue of classification is one that many countries are looking at and the Censor has told me that there is international interest in what we are doing.

"Our work will also be informed by the steps being taken in Australia and the United Kingdom."

The consultation period closes on May 26.