​uk music videos to be given film-style age ratings

Videos from artists on major UK labels will be rated before release on Youtube and Vevo.

by Charlotte Gush
18 August 2015, 9:40am

All UK-produced music videos by artists on major labels will be given an age rating before being released on Youtube or Vevo, like film releases are given before they can be released in cinemas. A pilot started by the government in October 2014 has been made permanent, with all of the major labels signing up voluntarily to the scheme.

The initiative was developed due to concerns about the violent and sexual nature of music videos by artists like Miley Cyrus, Rihanna and Robin Thicke. 132 UK-produced music videos have been submitted to the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) so far, with 56 getting a 12 rating, 53 classified as 15 and just one getting the 18 stamp -- Couple of Stacks by Dizzee Rascal, which sees the rapper brutally murdering people with a knife.

"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," says minister for internet safety and security Lady Joanna Shields. "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," she adds.

The Guardian note that a 2007 report by the American Psychological Association found that there is a direct link between pop culture consumed by children and "three of the most common mental health problems diagnosed in girls and women - eating disorders, low self-esteem and depression". But equally, people are concerned that these ratings, if applied conservatively, will disproportionately impact videos with queer themes, and videos that may be hard to watch but carry important messages about bullying, abuse or dysfunctional family situations, for example, that actually help young people make sense of their world.

Another major criticism of the initiative is that music videos not produced in the UK will avoid this scrutiny, meaning that the kidnap, torture and drug taking in Bitch Better Have My Money and the violence of Bad Blood would go unchecked. Plus, if kids can work out how to watch American Netflix from the UK, they're probably going to manage to get around these ratings on Youtube and Vevo.