Music videos need age rating says review

By Angela Harrison
Education correspondent, BBC News

image captionRihanna has been criticised for a recent video

Music videos should have age ratings to protect children from sexual images and lyrics, an inquiry is to say.

The review - into the sexualisation and commercialisation of childhood - was commissioned by the Prime Minister David Cameron and is due out on Monday.

It was carried out by Reg Bailey, the head of the Mothers' Union, who says parents are unhappy about "an increasingly sexualised culture".

There has been recent controversy about music videos by Rihanna and Lady Gaga.

Mr Bailey is expected to recommend that the retail, advertising and video industries be given 18 months to clean up their acts voluntarily, or face tougher government regulation.

Broadcasters would be expected to pay heed to the age rating when deciding when to broadcast music videos.

Campaigners will scrutinise the full recommendations when they are published to see how effective they might be in the digital age, when most young people view music videos online and on their telephones.

Recently, the X Factor faced complaints about performances by Christina Agueilera and Rihanna, but the regulator Ofcom did not uphold them.

A survey carried out for the review suggested that almost nine out of 10 UK parents thought children were having to grow up too early.

About half of the 1,000 parents questioned were unhappy with what was shown on television before the current "watershed" of 2100.

A majority of parents of five to 16-year-olds said music videos and a "celebrity culture" were encouraging children to act older than they were.

The review also looked at concerns about adult-style clothing aimed at young children, as well as toys and games some parents feel are inappropriate.

image captionPadded bras and other adult clothing aimed at young girls is a concern for some parents

Mr Bailey believes sexually explicit videos contribute to a "wallpaper" of sexual images surrounding children.

Speaking last month, he said parents were "struggling against the slow creep of an increasingly commercial and sexualised culture and behaviour, which they say prevents them from parenting the way they want".

He said parents "had little faith in regulators or businesses taking their concerns seriously", but also were put off complaining by fears they would be seen as "prudish or out of touch".

His review is expected to call for the advertising industry not to place adverts containing sexualised imagery close to schools, nurseries and playgrounds.

And it is understood it will call for a single online portal to be set up where parents can complain about the way products are marketed to children.


The pop star Rihanna has been defending her latest music video Man Down, saying it is "art with a message".

On a social networking site she wrote: "I'm a 23 year old rockstar with no kids! What's up with everybody wantin me to be a parent? I'm just a girl, I can only be your/our voice!".

Katherine Rake, chief executive of the Family and Parenting Institute, said: "Developments in technology, media and commerce mean the current generation of UK children are being subjected to some entirely new pressures.

"Parents are concerned children are experiencing too much too young in terms of sexualised images and aggressive advertising. Steps must be taken to make parents feel they are regaining some control of the messages their children absorb."

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