Netflix to provide age ratings for content

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Netflix is to provide age ratings for content (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Netflix is to work with the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) to provide age ratings for content on the streaming service.

The platform will move towards classifying all content on the service using BBFC age ratings such as U, PG and 18.

Netflix and the BBFC will work together for a pilot programme to make sure Netflix’s classification process produces ratings which are consistent with the BBFC’s classification guidelines for the UK.

Afterwards, Netflix will produce BBFC ratings in-house to be carried on their UK service but the board will regularly check content that has been rated by Netflix to make sure it complies with its standards.

The move follows research by the BBFC and the Video Standards Council Rating Board (VSC) which found that almost 80% of parents are concerned about children seeing inappropriate content on video on demand or online games platforms.

The two organisations are publishing a joint set of best practice guidelines to offer more consistent use of trusted age ratings online.

This includes recommending more comprehensive use of BBFC age labelling symbols across all Video On Demand (VOD) services, and Pan European Game Information (PEGI) symbols across online games services.

It also recommends that additional ratings information, such as drug misuse or violence, should be used alongside the age rating wherever available.

The voluntary guidelines are aimed at VOD services offering video content to UK consumers via subscription, purchase and rental, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and iTunes, but exclude catch-up TV services like BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4, My5 and UKTV Play.

David Austin, chief executive of the BBFC, said: “Our research clearly shows a desire from the public to see the same trusted ratings they expect at the cinema, on DVD and on Blu-ray when they choose to watch material online.

“We know that it’s not just parents who want age ratings, teenagers want them too. We want to work with the industry to ensure that families are able to make the right decisions for them when watching content online.”

Digital minister Margot James added: “Our ambition is for the UK to be the safest place to be online, which means having age ratings parents know and trust applied to all online films and video games.

“I welcome the innovative collaboration announced today by Netflix and the BBFC, but more needs to be done.

“It is important that more of the industry takes this opportunity for voluntary action, and I encourage all video on demand and games platforms to adopt the new best practice standards set out by the BBFC and Video Standards Council.”

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