New rules tipped for Netflix shows like 13 Reasons Why

Netflix shows like 13 Reasons Why could come under new rules proposed by the Government to bring them in line with DVD regulations. 

The Classification Act will be amended to make Commercial Video on-Demand (CVoD) providers, like Netflix, to show the same consumer warnings as seen on films and DVDs.

Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin said the current regulations for platforms like Netflix and Lightbox is voluntary, which means ratings and consumer warnings can be inconsistent or missing. 

"The worst example of this is what happened around the first season of 13 Reasons Why when there were no warnings around sexual violence and suicide for that show," Martin said. 

"The changes will standardise classifications for video-on-demand and bring them in line with films and DVDs so that families and young people know what they're about to see."

The Films, Videos and Publications Classification Act was passed in 1993, and was built around traditional platforms such as cinema released films and broadcast TV programmes. 

Martin suggested the law was out-of-date, and that the aim of the amendment is to better inform users of streamed content, not to prevent the supply of it. 

She said it will help to manage "unnecessary harm to young and vulnerable people" and allow them to make informed choices. 

It follows the release of a study published in May that linked an increase in US teenagers' deaths by suicide to the release of 13 Reasons Why - a fictional Netflix show about a teenager who dies by suicide. 

Research from the Chief Censor's office shows 76 percent of New Zealanders are concerned about children and teens' exposure to visual media content and young people want more information.

"Our children and young people are at particular risk of harm from this, which is why we are making changes to fix this problem," Martin said. 

The proposals come following consultation with the public and providers and are likely to be introduced to Parliament as an Amendment Bill in late November.