BPI Updating the Parental Advisory Scheme

Amidst news that Britain’s total digital music sales have exceeded £1 billion, the British Recorded Music Industry, or BPI, has just announced that they will be updating their Parental Advisory Scheme to include online services. The current scheme is 15 years old, with Parental Guidance logos appearing on CDs since 1995. The updated guidelines will see the familiar logo appearing on videos and songs that can be streamed or downloaded from UK digital music services.

With racier music videos and explicit lyrics, the music industry has been criticized by such organizations as Ofcom. Ofcom is the independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries. Various warnings have been issued by Ofcom to music TV broadcasters for showing the unedited version Rihanna’s S&M music video during a time when children could’ve been watching, and ruling that Flo Rida’s music video is too sexualized to be broadcast prior to the 9pm watershed.

The majority of online music services do not have a parental advisory system in place. The exception is Apple’s iTunes online store, which accounts for 80% of legal music downloads in the UK. Once BPI has issued the updated guidelines in the next few weeks, music services will be responsible for adopting the scheme. The scheme will require that streaming services and retailers of digital music in the UK must clearly display the Parental Advisory logo, or alternatively the word “EXPLICIT”, beside files with explicit content. Websites that are expected to adopt the new guidelines include YouTube, Napster, VEVO and Spotify. Explicit content includes songs and videos that contain violence, strong language and sex.

Geoff Taylor, chief executive of BPI, feels that by updating the scheme so that digital songs and videos online are labeled will assist parents in identifying material that may be inappropriate for their children. BPI believes that it is important that parents enjoy the same standards of guidance online as they would in a physical retail store.

How do digital service providers and retailers feel about the BPI‘s Parental Advisory Scheme? Many have been supportive of the move. Kim Bayley of the Entertainment Retailers Association said that retailers are keen to offer accurate information to customers so that they may make informed choices. Further to this, CEO and President of VEVO, Rio Caraeff, stated that they believe in the rights of artists to express themselves, but also recognize the importance of keeping parents and consumers informed of music video content that may not be acceptable for children to view.