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Government embarks on futile mission to censor teen music vid viewing

Think of the children? They can think perfectly well for themselves, thanks

The government and major UK music labels have agreed to make a pilot programme permanent. UK-produced music videos will now have an age rating.

And that will definitely stop kids from watching, and definitely not cause them to rush off to see what the fuss is about. If, for instance, we told you that in the of 132 music videos submitted by UK labels to the BBFC for certification, only one had been rated 18, would your immediate reaction be “oh, that’s good”, or “oh, what was it?”

If we then said it was Dizzee Rascal’s ‘Couple of Stacks’, how long would it take before you opened a new tab and were off looking for it?

You don’t want to.

We did and not only is the “music” quite, erm, astringent, it’s all amputation, decapitation, popped eyeballs and really rather distasteful.

As well as YouTube, the Government is working with the UK music industry, BBFC and digital service providers like Vevo to take further action to protect children from viewing inappropriate videos on the internet. The ban comes from an October 2014 Government-backed pilot to introduce age ratings for online music videos, which was launched by the BBFC and BPI in conjunction with Vevo and YouTube.

It works with major UK music labels to introduce a new ratings system that would allow digital service providers to clearly display an easily recognisable age rating on videos posted on the web. UK labels 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 the rating when the videos are broadcast online.

Building on the pilot, the Government has, as one of its manifesto commitments, agreed with the UK music industry and with the digital service providers that the measures trialled will now be made permanent for videos produced in the UK by artists who are represented by major labels. As well as working with Sony Music UK, Universal Music UK and Warner Music UK, the Government is also encouraging independent UK music labels to follow suit, so that the digital service providers can display appropriate age ratings on their videos too. Those independent UK music labels will now take part in a six-month pilot phase.

Baroness Joanna Shields, minister for internet safety and security, said:

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. Keeping children safe as they experience and enjoy all the benefits the internet has to offer is a key priority for this government’s One Nation approach to help families across Britain. 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.

Clear age ratings are the first step, but 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. Given that from the Jitterbug, to the Beatles to Punk, teenagers have gone out of their way to listen to music that their parents would not have approved of, this probably shows that 40 per cent of modern teenagers are just a bit soft.

Vevo is exploring plans to link the age ratings to additional technology on their platform that can support age controls. On YouTube, when record labels upload a UK-produced music video rated 18 by the BBFC, they are able to age-gate access to users signed in as over 18. The new age ratings also complement YouTube’s existing restricted mode, which helps parents screen out content they may not feel is right for their children.

Geoff Taylor, BPI chief executive, said: “Britain is a world leader in making exciting and original music, in part because our artists have a freedom to express themselves that we rightly cherish. While we must continue to uphold this principle, it is equally important that music videos are broadcast in a responsible way and that parents are given the tools to make more informed viewing decisions on behalf of their families.”

David Cooke, director of the BBFC, said: "We welcome this agreement. Parents want to see clear and recognisable age ratings on online music videos and we look forward to building on the success of the pilot."

Nic Jones, EVP international at Vevo, said: “Vevo will be working with the BBFC as the scheme rolls out to make sure that age ratings are displayed in the most effective way on our platform, to provide the necessary guidance for audiences in a clear way. We are also committed to making the age ratings work as effectively as possible and will continue to explore how additional technology on the platform can support age controls to ensure that explicit content is watched only by age appropriate audiences.”

The blocking of music on sites might not succeed in modifying teens appetite for “your mother wouldn’t like it” type music, but it could help educate them in the mastery of VPNs, TOR and Torrents. So think of it as a tech education programme. ®

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