Government snubs games with post-Byron funding

Gordon Brown’s Government is pumping 9 million into internet safety advertising for parents, following recommendations made in the

Byron Review in March

– but has yet again failed to promise that it will cough up for a similar campaign when it comes to violent video games.

The news is included in the Government’s new Byron Review Action Plan, and is likely to be met with frustration by the UK industry.

Top UK industry execs and their trade bodies have previously expressed dismay over the prospect of paying for a public awareness campaign of 15- and 18-rated games – an idea proposed by Dr. Tanya Byron.

When questioned by MCV earlier this year on whether the Government would provide any financial assistance, Secretary Of State for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport Andy Burnham said:

Principally, we’re looking for the games industry to take that forward."

The new Byron Action Plan intends to ‘make the internet and video games safer for children’, and was published today by Children’s Minister Kevin Brennan, Home Office Minister Vernon Coaker and Culture Minister Margaret Hodge.

According to Whitehall, the plans will ‘raise awareness of e-safety issues among children, young people, parents and other adults through a public information and awareness campaign which will begin in summer 2008 as part of a 9m investment by Government in communications to the public about child safety’.

However, despite the 9 million spend on awareness of ‘e-safety’, the Government makes no firm concessions in the release to fund of an advertising campaign to educate parents of the importance of BBFC age ratings.

It reads:

‘Once the proposals for a new classification system are published, we will begin discussions with industry to develop a full public awareness campaign to make sure that parents are provided with enough information to make an informed decision about what is appropriate for their child. We will be working with the games industry, retailers and the regulators to explore how best this can be achieved.

‘The Government will look to work with industry and regulators in establishing a comprehensive public awareness campaign once a new classification system has been published, following consultation. We will then be in a position to establish the full cost of a campaign.

‘The Government will look to industry in partnership with retailers and regulators to take forward codes of practice or agreed minimum standards that make the playing of video games safer for children.

‘The DCMS and BERR will help support and facilitate this process as part of its ongoing sponsorship responsibilities.’

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