Eros CEO Fiona Patten said that less than 5 percent of adult publications currently sold in Australia are classified and in many cases importers of adult magazines cannot afford the government's fees for classification.
“The cost to classify a publication ranges from $400-$500. This even includes the classification of a business card that might have a nude dancer on it," Patten said. “Many adult publications are imported in small numbers. If an importer wants to bring in 10 copies of a specialist magazine they have to load the cover price of that magazine by up to $40 just to recover the classification costs, so, clearly, they cannot comply with the law or they will go broke."
When more than one business imports the same publication, the company that classifies it first clears it for all companies. This makes many companies reluctant to pay the classification fees.
Patten said that in the past, explicit adult magazines were not classified but were only allowed to be sold from age restricted adult shops.
Censorship laws are inconsistent in Australia, Patten pointed out. In West Australia, Category 2 explicit magazines can be sold legally by minors working at newsstands, a situation Eros has challenged. In Queensland, R-rated films are legal but the equivalent Category 1 Restricted magazines are illegal.
“It's time the government reformed the classification scheme to create a powerful uniform adult category called Non Violent Erotica (NVE), that spans film, publications and computer games, that all fall under the same set of guidelines," Patten said. “The public has no idea about the differences between an R- or X-rated film, a Category 1 or 2 Restricted magazine and an MA rated online or computer game."
Patten's recommendation is that NVE magazines in Category 2 and X rated films should only be available to adults, purchased from adult shops. According to Patten, adult magazines and explicit films are currently available in non-restricted outlets, including convenience stores and service stations. Eros has taken issue with such sales with the state and federal governments, but, according to Eros, "the Classification Board’s Community Liaison Scheme was too obsessed with policing the sale of X rated films in adult shops to worry about the more important issue of adult material in family areas."