How do you make a choice about what to watch on television?
Many of us make our choices using a newspaper or TV listings guide – the three highest circulation guides sell a combined total in excess of 3.5 million copies every week. However the electronic programme guides (EPGs) from digital providers such as Freeview and Sky are increasingly important as the number of channels available grows.
A member of Mediawatch-UK recently pointed out that Sky’s EPG details for films do not always include the film’s BBFC rating. Some broadcasters – including Channel 4 and More 4 – always include the information but other broadcasters – including the BBC – do not.
We wrote to Sky to ask them if they would consider updating their listings with BBFC classifications on all films but they told us that the information they use is provided at the discretion of broadcasters and is not controlled by Sky. Presently there is no mandatory requirement to include BBFC ratings on films shown on non-dedicated movie channels.
Parents are continually told that it is up to them to protect their children from potentially harmful media but it is important that broadcasters provide them with the tools they need to do the job properly.
We have now written to Ofcom requesting a change so that BBFC ratings, where available, are included in electronic listings guides. There is a large difference between films rated U, PG and 12 and yet all can be shown pre-watershed. Parents need to be able to make informed choices about what is suitable viewing for their children and BBFC ratings are an important factor in making that choice.
We await Ofcom’s response with interest.