Lord Storey: Making online videos safer

Lord Storey will today use oral questions in the Lords to ask the Government what plans it has to re-examine the status of films currently exempt from classification by the British Board of Film Classification. Here he explains why the current regime is not keeping children safe

Lord Storey
Lord Storey

We can’t ignore the fact that video works have changed radically over the decades. Videos can of course be viewed online, making it easier for the public to access a wealth of information.

However the legislation designed to monitor the content suitability for video works (the Video Recordings Act 1984) is almost 30 years old. At the time of its enactment, it made several types of video exempt from specific classification as they were considered unlikely to cause harm to viewers. But naturally, the content of these exempt video works has changed considerably over time, meaning that potentially harmful content can – and is – currently be legally supplied to children.

During Oral Questions in the Lords today I will argue that current exemption thresholds need to be lowered so that films such as ‘His name was Jason: 30 years of Friday the 13th’ are included in the classifications. We should allow the British Board of Film Classification to classify unsuitable content, and in so doing, protect our children.

In fact the Government promised that by April 2014, videos containing strong violence, sexual exploitation, drug misuse and racist language will no longer be freely supplied to children. The Department of Education’s Letting Children be Children report into the commercialisation and sexualisation of childhood further highlighted such concerns, working with the BBFC and the recorded music industry to stem and control unsuitable content. I hope that this partnership will continue to encourage the understanding of classifications, in addition to the publication of advice on age ratings and content.

I appreciate that the BBFC has plenty of work to do. It works with companies like Tesco, Talk Talk, Apple and others in provide ratings for online content for Paramount, Sony, Disney etc. Indeed, the home entertainment industry classification has been protecting our children since 1984. But why is it that the music industry doesn’t already follow the example of the home entertainment industry: isn’t it time they adopted the BBFC’s classifications for online music videos?

I strongly believe that in adopting the BBFC classifications voluntarily, online music videos will soon become safer (but no less enjoyable) for our children.


Published and promoted by Tim Gordon on behalf of the Liberal Democrats, both at LDHQ, 8-10 Great George Street, London, SW1P 3AE.


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