This Friday marks the start of a trial scheme in the United Kingdom that intends to place age-restrictive warnings on all online music videos. These ratings will be determined by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), which is the same organization that oversees films and DVDs. Orchestrated by Prime Minister David Cameron, this new rating system is intended to help parents monitor the subject matter consumed by their children.
Any online music video that contains explicit content will be subject to a rating, though it is not yet certain which specific elements will set the BBFC off. The pilot was announced in August by Prime Minister Cameron, “to help parents protect their children from some of the graphic content in online music videos.” Three of the biggest record labels in the United Kingdom have agreed to participate, including Sony, Universal, and Warner Brothers. Both Vevo and Youtube are also committed to the plan, though representatives of Youtube said the technical changes may take some time on their end. The music video assessments will begin this week. However, all parties involved have stated that viewers will not see the changes until the end of the year.
Although the alliance between these huge corporations may seem substantial, the ratings will initially only apply to artists who are signed to UK labels (which is unfortunate because Maroon 5’s “Animals” exists). Another interesting point is that the televised music videos aired in the United Kingdom are already controlled by Ofcom, a separate body from the BBFC. This disjunction has many wondering how the individual content ratings may differ between the two administrations.
Artists in the United Kingdom are also predicting an unexpected side effect from the well-meaning endeavor. “I think there’s two sides to the pilot,” said British musician Ella on the Run. “I understand the reason for it. I would say age ratings would be appropriate because sometimes you don’t want your kids to see certain sexual imagery or violence. At the same time, I think giving an age rating might actually get people to make even more provocative videos than before as long as they get the proper rating for it.”