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Vevo and YouTube begin to display age ratings on music videos in the UK

By | Published on Thursday 26 March 2015

Miley Cyrus

And so it begins. Music videos for tracks released by the UK factions of the three major record companies will now feature age ratings on Vevo and YouTube.

This is the second stage of a government-backed pilot to test how online music video age ratings might be used in the UK. The programme began in October, with the major labels submitting videos to the BBFC in order to determine if they required a 12, 15 or 18 certificate (videos expected to require a lower certificate are not being submitted).

“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” explained BBFC Assistant Director David Austin. “In particular their role in the sexualisation of girls, and portrayals of self-harm, drug use and violence in some music video content”.

However, as the videos currently being submitted to the BBFC are all from artists directly signed to UK labels, most of the videos that prompted the pilot in the first place – which were generally put out by US artists – are left untouched, leading to situations like this one. Though I’m sure those involved would point out that if the pilot is deemed successful, it would be hoped that it could be rolled out more widely.

“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”, says BPI boss Geoff Taylor. “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”.

And Vevo’s EVP International Nic Jones added that, while the company fully supports musicians’ “right to freedom of expression in the videos they create”, the company also recognises its role in ensuring that viewers can 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”, he added, possibly revealing the real drive behind Vevo’s support.

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