Ratings now feature on UK music videos on digital service providers Vevo and YouTube.
The BPI and BBFC, in partnership with Vevo and You Tube, and UK record companies Sony Music UK, Universal Music UK and Warner Music UK, can announce that age ratings are now being displayed on the music videos they upload to digital service providers Vevo and YouTube.
The age ratings are part of a government-backed pilot by the UK recorded music industry, the BBFC and digital service providers designed to test how age ratings can be applied to music videos released online in the UK, so that family audiences can make more informed viewing decisions.
The pilot has been running since 3 October 2014. The first phase, which has been successful, saw the three major UK record companies (Sony Music UK, Universal Music UK and Warner Music UK) submit to the BBFC for age rating, any music videos for release online in the UK for which they would expect to be given at least a 12-rating (videos deemed not to contain content that would attract at least a 12 rating are not submitted*).
If appropriate, the BBFC then issues either a 12, 15 or 18 rating – in line with the BBFC Classification Guidelines. As part of the ratings process the BBFC also includes bespoke content advice, called BBFCinsight, which explains in more detail why an age rating has been given: for example, that scenes include sexual imagery or other content deemed inappropriate for younger viewers. Once given an age rating, the labels pass on the rating and guidance when releasing their videos to the two digital service providers – Vevo and YouTube, who, in turn, will display it when the videos are broadcast online.
The pilot will be evaluated later this year based on consumer research, when consideration will also be given to how the scheme can be applied more widely.
Geoff Taylor, BPI Chief Executive, comments: “We want to empower consumers by giving them useful, advance guidance as to the suitability of the music videos they watch, whilst leaving artists the freedom to fully express themselves. The introduction of age ratings on top of the existing parental advisory warnings is a key next step by the UK’s record labels, working with BBFC, Vevo and YouTube, that will enable families to make more informed viewing decisions.”
David Austin, Assistant Director, BBFC comments: “We are very pleased to see YouTube and Vevo displaying BBFC age ratings and BBFCinsight for online music videos submitted to the BBFC for classification as part of this pilot. Parents taking part in our most recent review of the BBFC Classification Guidelines in 2013, expressed their concerns about the content of music videos online, in particular their role in the sexualisation of girls and portrayals of self-harm, drug use and violence in some music video content. We hope this pilot will provide consumers with information to help guide them and their families when accessing music videos online.”
Nic Jones, EVP International, Vevo, comments: “Music videos give bands and artists their best opportunity to express personality and individuality to their fans. At Vevo we fully support their right to freedom of expression in the videos they create. We also recognise our role in being able to assist music fans, and their families in particular, to be comfortable with their choice of viewing material and its suitability. In turn age ratings will help Vevo become even more valuable to brands, helping them to connect to their desired audience.”
Candice Morrissey, Music Partnerships, YouTube EMEA, comments: “Over the last few months, we have been working with the UK's music industry to help them display the BBFC's age ratings on their music videos on YouTube. These are in addition to the controls we already provide on YouTube including the ability for uploaders to add age warnings to videos and a safety mode to help parents screen out content they do not feel is suitable for their children.”
* It is estimated that around 20% of music videos released within the pilot are likely to be subject to a rating – the large majority are unlikely to contain content that would be rated 12 or greater. This estimate is based on a previous video catalogue audit of one of the companies taking part in the pilot.