BBC to try out guidance labelling for media player

MUMBAI: With only a few weeks to go before the BBC introduces the second pilot phase of its podcasting initiative the integrated Media Player (iMP) in the UK the pubcaster has announced that, as part of the pilot, it is to trial a new labelling system for on-demand content available online.


The BBC states that this innovation is based on the realisation that in a world of time-shifted programming, when viewers can watch programmes any time of the day or night, such challenging content can no longer be signalled by the traditional 9 pm watershed.

The system signals challenging content - such as strong language, scenes of a sexual nature or violence - by placing a 'G' next to a programme title in the iMP's electronic programming guide (EPG). The iMP allows people to download any TV programme within seven days of transmission



By clicking on the G users can then call up more details which explain the reason for the label. It is designed to provide adults and parents with sufficient details about a programme to make an informed choice on whether or not to watch or listen to it.

In the case of the iMP pilot, participants will have the option of password protecting G-labelled content to prevent younger viewers from downloading unsuitable programmes.

BBC Editorial Policy advisor Rachel Hermer, says, "The G label is based on research that told us people wanted a simple, easy-to-use, but information-rich, system that enabled them to make informed choices about what they watch. It offers peace of mind to those members of our audience – particularly parents - who are concerned with what children watch, without losing the freedom offered by the on-demand environment. We'll be using the trial to see if we have struck the right balance."

The BBC has undertaken two extensive pieces of research into the subject, looking at both the sorts of information audiences wanted about challenging content (such as text, age ratings or symbols) and where in an EPG the text would be best placed.

The BBC is hoping that broadcasters and operators involved in the development of on-demand programming and systems will be interested in the labelling proposal. It has promised to share its findings of the trial with the rest of the industry.

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