1. ITV Report

Online music videos to carry age restricted ratings

Videos made by popstar Miley Cyrus have often been criticised for being soft porn. Photo: Reuters

Overtly sexual pop videos shown online in the UK will be subject to age restricted ratings in a new pilot scheme beginning this week.

From Friday, major record companies will begin to submit promos which may cause concerns to the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), amid growing concerns about the sexual display of women and girls in music videos. Videos that make references to drug-taking and other illegal activity will also be subject to the ratings.

Last year's Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke is one of the more high profile videos that caused controversy, with its display of topless young gyrating around a fully dressed group of men.

Videos by female pop stars such as Miley Cyrus, Rihanna, Beyonce, Niki Minaj, Jessie J and others have also been criticised for being "pornographic". The impact of these videos, particularly on younger viewers, has raised concerns. Annie Lennox said:

I'm all for freedom of expression, but this is clearly one step beyond, and it's clearly into the realm of porn.

– Annie Lennox

Warning: Video features sexual material

The first phase of the pilot will see participating major labels - Sony, Universal and Warner - seeking age ratings from the BBFC, before the videos are passed on to Vevo and YouTube to be made available online.

Once the process is running smoothly the two digital service providers will begin to display the appropriate guidance on screen.

It is expected that around 20% of music videos are expected to warrant a ratings warning.

The Prime Minister announced in August that an age-rated pilot was being designed to help parents protect their children. David Austin, assistant director of the BBFC said:

Our most recent large scale research, carried out in 2013 and involving more than 10,000 people, highlighted access to music videos containing sexualised imagery, self-harm, drug use and violence as a key concern for parents.

– David Austin, BBFC