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UK programmers commit to VoD child protection

Members of the Commercial Broadcasters Association (COBA) – the UK industry body for digital, cable and satellite broadcasters and on-demand services – have signed up to a Statement of Practice for Video-on-Demand (VoD) services, committing to make child protection a priority.

The Statement, launched on Safer Internet Day, pledges to provide on-demand viewers with a range of protections and to make on-demand programmes available in a way that supports the child protection tools provided by platforms. Signatories include many of the major on-demand services in the UK and the Statement covers their on-demand services that are accessed through a television.

  • The Statement includes a commitment to the highest possible standards in on-demand programmes, comparable to those on broadcast television channels.
  • It also commits to supporting television platforms in providing the most robust possible types of protection for on-demand catch-up services, such as PIN control mechanisms.
  • Finally, signatories commit to provide audiences with information about the age suitability of on-demand programmes, so they can make informed choices about the type of content they and their children watch.

“Government challenged the industry to find a voluntary and common approach to television content standards, and it is great to see how COBA members are promoting better protection for children, including using PIN control settings,” noted Ed Vaizey, Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy. “Arming parents with details about on-demand television services will help families make more informed decisions about the suitability of programmes.”

Tony Close, Ofcom Director of Content Standards, described the agreement as “a positive and welcome step” towards greater protection of children who watch on-demand TV services. “Broadcasters play a vital role in ensuring parents have clear information, along with the tools and controls they need to manage their children’s access to TV programmes. Ofcom will continue to work closely with industry, Government and other bodies to help protect child audiences.”

According to Adam Minns, Executive Director of COBA, the Statement of Practice for Video-on-Demand unites many of the most popular on-demand services in the UK for the first time, providing audiences with a clear set of commitments to providing the best possible child protection.

Signatories to the Statement are: A+E Networks, Comedy Central, Discovery Networks, Fox International Channels, MTV, NBCUniversal, Nickelodeon, Sky, Sony Pictures Television Networks, The Walt Disney Company, and Turner.

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