Age rating pilot scheme to start on online music videos

01/10/14

This Friday a pilot scheme to add age ratings to online music videos starts but don't expect to see any huge 12s, 15s or 18s on videos just yet.

All parties involved say people watching the videos won't see any changes until the end of the year.

YouTube says it is committed but technical change may take time and Vevo has agreed to trial the scheme.

Three of the biggest labels in the UK - Sony, Universal and Warner Brothers - have all also agreed to take part.

But it will only apply to artists signed to UK labels.

Lily Allen Hard Out Here image

In August, David Cameron announced the pilot saying that he wanted "to help parents protect their children from some of the graphic content in online music videos".

The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), the same body which rates films and DVDs, will be deciding which videos warrant an age rating.

Ella On The Run and film crew

Newsbeat visited the music video set, in Stoke-on-Trent, of new artist Ella On The Run for her single War of Words.

"I think there's two sides to the pilot," she said. "I understand the reason for it. I would say age ratings would be appropriate because sometimes you don't want your kids to see certain sexual imagery or violence.

"At the same time, I think giving an age rating might actually get people to make even more provocative videos than before as long as they get the proper rating for it.

FKA Twigs

"So there's two sides to the story, but it's hard to decide which is the better outcome. So we'll see."

Mercury-nominated singer FKA Twigs said: "I think that the answer to protecting younger viewers is not to ban things, it's to show an alternative.

"I guess with my videos we're talking directly about sexuality and there's nothing wrong with that.

"Why shouldn't younger people learn and explore about what sexuality is as an adult? Why shouldn't they do that?

"We're not living in Victorian Britain, do we want to be repressed? Do we want to have these kids doing weird things behind closed doors or should this be a country that is leading by example in explaining to people?"

Spokesman for Vevo, Carly von Speyr, said: "While Vevo is a supporter of artist expression and free speech, we do believe it is important to inform parents and viewers about any music video programming we distribute that may not be suitable for all viewers.

"We are already part of the BPI's parental advisory scheme and we are pleased to be working with them and British Board of Film Classification to pilot the age rating of these videos this autumn."

The content of music videos played on TV is actively regulated by the broadcasting watchdog Ofcom.

A spokesperson said: "Ofcom's licensees understand their obligations under our rules; as a result we receive relatively few complaints about music videos on TV. If broadcasters do break the rules, we take robust action, which can include issuing fines."

In September 2011, Ofcom issued new guidance on the TV watershed, warning broadcasters to be more careful about programmes they show before 9pm that could be unsuitable for children.

That included specific detailed guidance on music videos.

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