Videomakers plan new rating system to supplement old. Symbols on packaging seen as consumer guide

You stop in to a video store looking for your favorite blockbuster, only to find that all the copies have been checked out. With mom and the kids popping popcorn and getting out the cold drinks at home, you grab for another video from the store shelves. When you get it home, you find it is totally unsuitable for the family. The newly formed Independent Video Programmers Association (IVPA) is out to stop such a scenario. With a just-announced rating system, the approximately 2,500 titles a year not currently rated by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) will be rated with symbols printed plainly on the video box.

``In addition to `C' for children, `F' for family, or `M', `MM' or `MMM' for different degrees of maturity, we will be using such designations as `L' for language, `V' for violence, `N' for nudity, and `S' for sex,'' says Elayne Blythe, president and founder of the Film Advisory Board, which this week announced its alliance with the IVPA to rate non-MPAA-rated programming for the home video industry.

``We feel that parents are the best judges of what their children should be allowed to watch - up to a point. But parents should have as much information as possible to make that decision. We will still rate as `X' any film containing explicit, hard-core sex.''

Danny Kopels, executive vice-president of Magnum Entertainment and chairman of the IVPA, said, ``The rating system we have developed does not `pass judgment' on films and programs. Rather, it informs. The Motion Picture Association of America rating system is too expensive and too slow. It simply does not provide enough information.'' Mr. Kopels cited a recent Los Angeles Times poll stating that 73 percent of adults favor changing the rating system to reflect the content that earns the films their ratings.

``At the same time, a number of communities are talking about passing local ordinances forbidding the sale or rental of non-rated videos. It is therefore a matter of survival for homevid companies - particularly we independents, who do not have the sourcing or the enormous budgets to acquire recent theatrically released films - to police our own product,'' Kopels added.

The IVPA, formed in early 1986, is composed of a number of independent home video marketers, including Magnum Entertainment, New Star Video, All Seasons Entertainment, Video Gems, Unicorn Video Sales, City Lights Home Video, Today Home Entertainment, and several others.

When the IVPA announcement was made, neither the MPAA nor the Video Software Dealers Association (VSDA) knew anything about the new ratings system. The MPAA and VSDA agreed in October to use the MPAA rating system throughout the VSDA's 15,000 outlets, says Barbara Dickson, vice-president for public affairs at the VSDA.

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