New guidelines for web content

New guidelines for web content

Websites must give consumers clear information about the content they are about to watch

The UK’s major broadcasters and media content providers have agreed to abide by a new set of good practice principles covering the audio visual content people access from the internet and mobile phones.

The idea is to give people easily understandable information so they can make informed choices about the content they are about to view, which could be unsuitable for children or offensive to some people.

The guidelines, which have been developed by the BBC, Channel 4, Virgin Media, AOL, BT, social networking site Bebo and the Broadband Stakeholder Group (BSG), are backed by regulator Ofcom.

The mobile phone industry already regulates adult services using age verification technology and many video on demand services use parental control locks. However the BSG said that the new guidelines take into account the need to extend existing principles across the fast-changing media world.

BSG chief executive officer Antony Walker said: “Consumers want clear information to help them make more informed choices.

"These principles set out the underlying approach that content providers are taking so that consumers get the information they need, and in a way that makes sense to them across various media platforms.

"We hope today’s launch will encourage other players in the audiovisual industry to sign up to this crucial cross-industry initiative."

The guidelines do not cover user-generated content, such as that found on Youtube, or adverts. The way the information and its format is delivered will vary from platform to platform.

It is hoped that all commercially generated content available online or on mobile phones will be flagged in a clear, comprehensible manner if it is unsuitable for particular age groups or contains content that may harm or offend.

The BSG will review the success and implementation of the code of conduct next year.