Content labelling scheme: Ofcom consults

Out-Law News | 02 Jun 2004 | 12:00 am |

Ofcom, the regulator for the communications and media industries, is driving for a common content labelling scheme to cover all types of electronic audiovisual media. The scheme aims to allow consumers to make informed choices and protect vulnerable groups.

The proposal is part of a new approach announced yesterday by Ofcom, designed to promote media literacy in the UK – a duty imposed on the regulator by the Communications Act of 2003.

The growth of media technology means that content can be viewed in numerous different ways, each of which is subject to numerous different Codes, regulations and restrictions. All of which means, says Ofcom, that the ability to assess the suitability of content, particularly where children are involved, will depend more and more on the individual viewer.

"Viewers and listeners need to have clear, accurate and timely advice about the nature of content so that they can make an informed choice. This advice can be effectively delivered using a content labeling framework", says Ofcom.

As a first step, Ofcom will encourage industry to establish a cross-platform working group, that will include such bodies as the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, five, BSkyB, British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), major ISPs and mobile phone operators.

The working group will explore the possibility of creating a common content labelling scheme for electronic audiovisual material delivered across all broadcast and interactive platforms. Ofcom also intends to explore whether labelling schemes will help consumers make more informed choices about electronic media content.

Ofcom has launched a consultation on its proposals and invites responses by 10th August.