Won’t somebody think of the children? Oh, they have. The UK is set to introduce age ratings for online music videos this October, with a pilot scheme involving YouTube, Vevo, the three major labels and film-ratings body the BBFC.
Prime Minister David Cameron is throwing his weight behind the scheme, in the hope that being tough on Miley Cyrus and tough on the causes of Miley Cyrus will be a vote-winner come the 2015 general election.
Or, as he put it in a statement announcing the move: “From October, we’re going to help parents protect their children from some of the graphic content in online music videos by working with the British Board of Film Classification, Vevo and YouTube to pilot the age rating of these videos.”
The pilot will initially run for three months, with labels submitting videos to the BBFC that might require an age-rating of 12, 15 or 18.
The BPI was quick with its public support for the scheme. “The BPI agrees with government that, with so many more music videos now being released online through such sites as YouTube and Vevo, it is important this content is made available to the public in a responsible way, that is sensitive to the needs and concerns of younger viewers and their parents.”
The caveat: for now, the age ratings will only be advisory. Labels will provide the age ratings to online video services alongside the videos so that “users, including parents, can make a more informed viewing decision”.
Children surfing YouTube alone won’t be blocked from viewing age-rated videos, in other words, especially as most under-13s don’t have registered accounts – Google has no idea how old they are (although that may soon change: Google is reportedly looking at introducing parent-controlled accounts for children).
“If, as hoped, the pilot proves successful, then as a key next step we would call on digital service providers to introduce filters linked to those age ratings so that families have the additional option to block video content they consider unsuitable viewing for children,” said the BPI.