Age ratings will now be displayed on UK-produced music videos on Vevo and YouTube.
“Clear” ratings will be added to videos on the streaming sites that are not suitable for children as part of a voluntary government initiative to help protect kids from viewing inappropriate videos.
The government’s work with the UK music industry, BBFC and digital service providers such as Vevo and YouTube follows a pilot scheme in October 2014 by the BBFc and BPI. It was deemed a success, with plans now to roll out the new ratings system as permanent for videos produced in the UK by artists who are represented by major labels.
UK labels will supply videos ahead of release to the BBFC, and then pass on the rating and guidance given by the BBFC when releasing their videos to the two digital service providers involved – Vevo and YouTube – who display it when the videos are broadcast online. As well as working with Sony Music UK, Universal Music UK and Warner Music UK, the Government is encouraging independent UK music labels to follow suit, with indie labels now taking part in a six-month pilot.
“Movies in the cinema and music DVDs are age rated to inform the viewer and help parents to make informed choices. We welcome this voluntary step from industry to bring internet services in line with the offline world,” comments Baroness Joanna Shields, Minister for Internet Safety and Security.
Indeed, initial findings of independent research commissioned by the BBFC shows that up to 60 per cent of children aged 10 to 17 are watching music videos that they do not think their parents would approve of.
Videos such as Rihanna’s controversial Bitch Better Have My Money can easily rack up millions of views online, while such hits as Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines have attracted criticism for their content, both in terms of lyrics and naked models on-screen. The Guardian notes that 132 videos have been submitted to the BBFC by music labels, with the majority rated as a 12 or 15 and only one given an 18 rating: Dizzee Rascal’s Couple of Stacks.
“We will continue to work with industry to develop ways to help parents to better protect children online from inappropriate music videos with explicit adult or violent content.”
On Vevo, the BBFC ratings symbol appears in the top left hand corner of the video player for the first few seconds. The rating will reappear when you move the cursor. You may also click the ‘i’ icon to see the ratings information. On YouTube, look for ‘Partner Rating’ label on the YouTube website; or a 12, 15 or 18 in a square box on the smartphone app underneath the video.
The ratings are in addition to the age-gated controls already provided on YouTube, including the ability for uploaders to add age warnings to videos and a restricted mode. Vevo is now exploring plans to link these age ratings to additional technology on their platform that can support age controls.