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Logos to be introduced before songs and videos on services such as Spotify and YouTube that contain explicit material.

Dan Gould
  • 2 june 2011


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This article titled “Parental warnings to be introduced for online music” was written by Mark Sweney, for guardian.co.uk on Thursday 2nd June 2011 06.16 UTC

Parental warning logos are set to be introduced before songs and music videos on services such as Spotify and YouTube that contain explicit material, following recent concern about the amount of risqué music content too easily available to children online.

Music industry body BPI is to update its 15-year-old Parental Advisory Scheme – which is responsible for the well-known warning symbol appearing on CDs, DVDs and records with strong language, sex or violence – to “bring up to date what happens on the high street to the digital age”.

The BPI is implementing an updated set of guidelines to expand the scheme for the logo to appear with songs and videos available to stream or download on UK digital music and music video services.

Most audio and video streaming services – including Google-owned YouTube, Spotify, Napster and Vevo, the music video website founded by Universal Music and Sony Music – do not yet have a uniform parental guidance system, according to the BPI.

“We think it is important for parents to get the same standards of guidance and information online as they get when buying CDs or DVDs on the high street,” said Geoff Taylor, chief executive of the BPI. “We are updating our… scheme for the digital age to ensure that explicit songs and videos are clearly labelled.”

Apple’s iTunes online store, which has an 80% share of the UK market for legal music downloads, already runs a warning system on its audio and video content.

The music industry has come in for criticism over explicit content recently with Ofcom, which enforces television regulations, calling in music TV broadcasters for a dressing down over several breaches of the broadcasting code.

In May Ofcom issued a warning about scheduling and code compliance after an unedited version of Rihanna’s S&M video, containing scenes of “sexual bondage, dominance and sadomasochism”, aired during the morning when children could be watching.

Ofcom had already warned music TV broadcasters after ruling against a racy Flo Rida video on MTV and Channel 4’s 4Music that it deemed too sexualised for a pre-9pm watershed transmission.

The TV regulator also warned that Rihanna and Christina Aguilera dance routines performed during The X Factor final in December were “at the limit of acceptability for transmission before the 9pm watershed”, although they did not breach the broadcast code.

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