June is Declared ``Ratings Awareness Month'' by Video Trade Association



Friday May 30, 2003

June is Declared ``Ratings Awareness Month'' by Video Trade Association

June has been declared "Ratings Awareness Month" by the Video Software Dealers Association (VSDA) -- the international trade association representing the home video entertainment industry.

The purpose of Ratings Awareness Month is to increase parents' awareness of the ratings systems for movies and video games and let parents know that video stores are committed to helping them control their children's access to movies and video games. According to VSDA President Bo Andersen, almost all video stores have ratings enforcement policies and point-of-sale computer equipment allowing parents to place restrictions on their children's movie and video game rentals and purchases. These controls are tied to the voluntary movie ratings system of the Motion Picture Association of America and the video game ratings system of the Entertainment Software Rating Board.

VSDA is encouraging parents to visit the video stores where they are members and update the controls in place for their children.

"Every summer, young people flock to their neighborhood video stores to rent the latest hit movies and video games, and video stores are committed to working with parents to ensure that children receive only the kind of entertainment their parents want them to have," Andersen explained. "Now is a good time for parents to make sure that their video stores are aware of the restrictions they want in place for their children."

As a first step, VSDA encourages parents to learn about the motion picture and video game ratings systems. These ratings systems evaluate the content of movies and video games and advise consumers about material in them that parents might find inappropriate for their minor children, such as coarse language, nudity, violence, and drug use. The ratings systems are guides and warnings for parents and are not intended to provide definitive value judgments on the products, nor do they have the force of law. Details of the ratings systems can be found on the Internet at www.parentalguide.org or by phone at 1-800-771-3772 (video games only).

"Parents may not be aware that most video stores offer programs that allow parents to specify what 'ratings' are acceptable for their children," added Andersen. The limitations are usually based on industry ratings of the movies and video games. Most video stores will not rent a movie rated "R" (for "Restricted") or a video game rated "M" (for "Mature") to anyone under 17 without a parent's permission.

"VSDA is strongly encouraging parents to take a few moments the next time they are in their local video store to review the restrictions they have placed on their minor children's access to movies and video games," said Andersen. "If there are no restrictions in place, parents can add some, or if the restrictions are out-of-date, the parents should inform the video store of their current wishes." VSDA also recommends that parents ask their video store to adopt a ratings enforcement policy if their store doesn't already have one.

Through its Pledge To Parents program, VSDA provides materials and guidance to video stores to assist them in establishing and implementing ratings education and enforcement programs. Through its Parents In Control program, VSDA certifies video stores that have ratings enforcement policies in place and feature ratings information for children and parents. Andersen encourages parents to look for video stores that display the Parents In Control logo or that promote their own ratings education and enforcement program, as they have demonstrated their commitment to helping parents control their children's access to movies and video games.

The Video Software Dealers Association is the trade association for the home video industry. VSDA can be contacted at 1-800-955-VSDA or vsdaoffice@vsda.org.

Established in 1981, the Video Software Dealers Association (VSDA) is the not-for-profit international trade association for the $20 billion home entertainment industry. VSDA represents more than 1,500 companies throughout the United States, Canada, and a dozen other countries. Its members operate more than 12,500 retail outlets in the U.S. that sell and/or rent DVDs, VHS cassettes, and console video games. Membership comprises the full spectrum of video retailers (from single-store operators to large chains), video distributors, the home video divisions of major and independent motion picture studios, and other related businesses that constitute and support the home video entertainment industry.





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