UK media regulators launch parents’ website
UK media regulators joined forces today to launch ParentPort, a new website aimed at helping parents make their views heard on issues relating to inappropriate programmes, adverts, products and services.
ParentPort (www.parentport.org.uk) has been set up to make it easier for parents to complain about material they have seen or heard across the media, communications and retail industries.
The website has been jointly developed by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), the Authority for Television On Demand (ATVOD), the BBC Trust, the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), the Office of Communications (Ofcom), the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) and the Video Standards Council (VSC)/Pan-European Game Information (PEGI).
It has been created in response to Reg Bailey’s Independent Review of the Commercialisation and Sexualisation of Childhood*, which recommended that regulators should work together to create a single website to act as an interface between themselves and parents.
ParentPort provides straightforward information on what parents can do if they feel they have seen or heard something inappropriate for their children. The site makes the process of making a complaint easier by directing parents to the right regulator for their specific area of concern.
The website also provides a ‘Have Your Say’ section, which allows parents to provide informal feedback and comments which regulators will use as an extra gauge of parental views. There’s also advice on how to keep children safe online and what parents can do about other products like clothing and the display of magazines in shops.
Speaking at a No.10 summit today on the progress being made against Reg Bailey’s recommendations, Chief Executive of Ofcom, Ed Richards, said: “Seven UK media regulators have come together to develop a single website, with a single aim – to help protect children from inappropriate material. Each regulator shares this common purpose and is committed to helping parents make their views and concerns known. We have already tested the website with parents and the feedback has been positive. We will keep listening to parents and intend to develop the site in light of further feedback.”
Reg Bailey, Chief Executive of Mothers’ Union, said: “I am really encouraged that all the regulators have got together to produce ParentPort in a relatively short time since my review. This will be one place where parents can make their voices heard and tell businesses and broadcasters if they feel they have overstepped the line in what is appropriate for children. Parents told me that they often didn’t know who to complain to or whether anything would be done as a result of their complaint. Parents are the best judges of what is acceptable for children so it’s important we all take their views more seriously.”
Children’s Minister, Sarah Teather, said: “I am looking forward to seeing what parents say on the ParentPort website. This will be an important tool in informing companies and regulators of what is acceptable for children. That way we can all work together to make our society a bit more family friendly.”
* Letting Children Be Children: the Report of an Independent Review of the Commercialisation and Sexualisation of Childhoodwas published on 6 June 2011.
NOTES FOR EDITORS
1. ParentPort has been developed in collaboration with seven UK regulators. These are the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), the Authority for Television On Demand (ATVOD), the BBC Trust, the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), the Office of Communications (Ofcom), the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) and the Video Standards Council (VSC)/Pan-European Game Information (PEGI).
Advertising Standards Authority
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is the UK’s independent regulator of advertising across all media. It applies the Advertising Codes in the public interest and with the co-operation of advertisers, agencies and media owners to ensure that advertising is legal, decent, honest and truthful. The ASA acts independently of both the Government and the advertising industry.
Authority for Television On Demand
The Authority for Television On Demand (ATVOD) regulates editorial content (programmes) on over 140 video on demand services available online, via set top boxes, on mobile phones, or via internet connected TVs. For further information, please visit www.atvod.co.uk
The BBC Trust is the governing body of the BBC. It represents the interests of licence fee payers. Its Trustees are responsible for setting the high-level strategy for the BBC so that it delivers the six public purposes set out in the BBC’s Charter, as well as for defending the Corporation’s independence from political or commercial interests. It is responsible for holding the BBC to account for value for money. It also sets the ultimate standards for programme making in the organisation and ensures the corporation lives up to them, both through oversight of the BBC’s editorial guidelines and by deciding complaints on appeal.
British Board of Film Classification
The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) is an independent, private, not for profit company which classifies films, videos, DVDs and certain video games, advertisements and trailers. The BBFC operates transparent, well-understood and trusted co-regulatory and self regulatory classification regimes based on years of expertise and published Guidelines which reflect public opinion and the risk of harm; and is accountable to Parliament.
Ofcom is the independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries, with responsibilities across television, radio, telecommunications and wireless communications services. For further information about Ofcom please visit: www.ofcom.org.uk. Ofcom’s news releases can be found at: www.ofcom.org.uk/media/.
Press Complaints Commission
The Press Complaints Commission (PCC) is an independent body which administers the system of self-regulation for the press. It does so primarily by dealing with complaints, framed within the terms of the Editors’ Code of Practice, about the editorial content of newspapers and magazines (and their websites, including editorial audio-visual material) and the conduct of journalists. It can also assist individuals by representing their interests to editors in advance of an article about them being published.
Video Standards Council
The Video Standards Council (VSC) was established in 1989 as a body set up to develop and oversee a Code of Practice designed to promote high standards within the video/DVD industry. The Code was subsequently expanded to promote high standards within the video games industry. The VSC has established staff training guidelines for retailers and others responsible for supplying videos, DVD and video games to the public to ensure that age-restricted media is not made available to under-age purchasers.
Since 1994 the VSC has been responsible for the age-rating of advisory video games under the scheme developed by the European Leisure Software Publishers Association (ELSPA). This was superseded by the Pan-European Games Information (PEGI) system and since 2003 the VSC has been responsible for administering the PEGI system which now covers the UK and 31 other European countries. The VSC has more experience in age rating games than any other body in Europe.
2. For further information about Parent Port, please visit www.parentport.org.uk.