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Streaming Content Providers: BBFC Rating System

Volume 706: debated on Thursday 6 January 2022

1. What assessment her Department has made of the potential merits of requiring streaming content providers operating in the UK to use the British Board of Film Classification rating system. (904862)

Happy new year to you, Mr Speaker, and to the House. I also welcome the new shadow team.

The Government launched a consultation in August last year to level the playing field between traditional broadcasters and video-on-demand streaming services, to provide a fair competitive framework and ensure that UK viewers receive equivalent standards regardless of the tech they use. That included looking at audience protection measures such as the role of the British Board of Film Classification age ratings. That consultation closed in October. We are now considering our response to the consultation and will publish the next steps in due course.

Does my hon. Friend agree that these certifications not only protect our young people, if they are adhered to by responsible parents, but help us as adults to determine what we want to watch in our own homes?

I thank my hon. Friend for his tremendous campaigning work to protect children online and for sharing with the Department details of his recent meeting with the BBFC. We have great trust in its best practice age ratings and, as I have set out, we are currently considering its role, as part of the VOD consultation. We are trying to strike the right balance between freedom of expression, protecting audiences from harm and making sure that traditional broadcasting and streaming services are held to the same standards. If my hon. Friend has additional ideas on how best to do that, I have sent him the details of the lead official in this area and we would welcome his further engagement.