Posts Tagged ‘mumsnet’


Digital TV doesn’t need more smut regulation

Last week’s report from the Mothers’ Union into the ‘sexualisation of children’ proposed a raft of measures to stop the horror of children finding out that people have sex.

Some of these, perhaps, might have some merit, but as I mentioned here before in regards to internet censorship, the vast majority of households in the UK do not have children.

While overly sexual images on billboards might well be worth addressing – though I think far more so in terms of the attitude to women that they represent, rather than their effect upon children – do we really want to end up in a situation where everything has to be sanitised in case a child might see it? Wouldn’t it be better if parents exercised more control and people didn’t grow up told that sex is dirty and awful?

As far as TV goes, seldom does a week pass without some storm being whipped up by a tabloid newspaper, over raunchy dance moves, or people alluding to a rude word rather than saying it; I’ll leave aside for now the mind-boggling hypocrisy of the Daily Mail, often at the core of such moral panics, and home to a web site full of images designed to do little more then titillate and sexualise.

One of the proposals is that Ofcom should be stricter with what’s shown on TV, particularly pre-watershed, and there have been suggestions in the past that this could even mean things like the famous Brookside lesbian kiss might not be deemed acceptable.

Here’s a thought: the TV is not an electric child minder.

More relevant to this blog, though, is the fact that in not much more than a year from now – which is less time than it would take to introduce any legislation – television in the UK will be completely digital.

And, as far as I’m concerned, digital TV does not need smut regulation. It does not need to have regulators meddling with programme content to please a bunch of latter-day Mary Whitehouse figures.

That’s because digital TV already has parental guidance, and programmes are flagged according to their content. Many set top boxes can be programmed to ensure that people can’t see certain channels, or types of material. And I’m sure with a little thought, someone could make a nice extra profit out of honing the interface on a TV or set top box to make it extremely simple to use – it’s not always as straightforward as it should be.

By the end of next year, everyone who’s watching TV in the UK will be doing so via a platform that supports parental controls and guidance. Wouldn’t it be far cheaper – and far more in keeping with ‘light touch regulation’ if people like Ofcom and Mumsnet left our TV programmes alone, and instead explained to people how to use parental controls, and take responsibility for what’s viewed in their own homes?

July 2015
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