Sky to Add Common Sense Media Ratings System

Sky CEO Jeremy Darroch
Courtesy of Getty Images

Sky CEO Jeremy Darroch

It will "help give parents greater peace of mind, helping them make smarter viewing choices for their children," says Sky CEO Jeremy Darroch.

Pan-European pay TV giant Sky, which Comcast is acquiring, is partnering with Common Sense Media to introduce a detailed ratings system designed to help parents make smarter choices about what their children watch on Sky.

The news comes as Sky and other U.K. media companies have called for Internet and tech giants to be regulated.

The new ratings service will launch in the U.K. in 2019 on the premium Sky Q platform and include detailed age ratings and in-depth information on such things as the educational value of a show, positive messages, use of positive role models, bad language, violence, sex and drink and drugs.

Nonprofit Common Sense says it has built "the largest, most trusted library of independent age-based reviews for everything kids want to watch, play, read and learn."

“As a parent I know how reassuring it is that the Sky platform offers a safe, highly regulated, family-friendly environment — but we know we can always do more," said Sky CEO Jeremy Darroch. "Our partnership with Common Sense will help give parents greater peace of mind, helping them make smarter viewing choices for their children."

He added: “We’re proud that our platform is getting even safer for children, but there is a much bigger problem that needs resolving. Social media addiction is damaging our society, and there is more evidence than ever that children are being affected by overexposure to these platforms and they’re seeing more and more harmful content."

Earlier this year, he had written in a blog post: "Leaders such as Mark Zuckerberg now accept that online platforms such as Facebook, Google, YouTube and Twitter need effective rules. This is to be welcomed. The pressure on these companies to take responsibility can no longer be ignored." He added back then: "A regulator must have sharp teeth, starting with strong information gathering powers, the power to initiate enquiries, and the ability to impose effective sanctions including the ability to fine for noncompliance. This will take resources and funding, and as in other sectors this should be financed by the community regulated — the online platforms themselves."

And late last year, Darroch had spoken out against the influence of technology giants and the "largely lawless Internet landscape."

Sky has taken several steps to help parents with more safety controls. For example, it relaunched the Sky Kids app earlier this year with improved controls, while it has also invested in Internet Matters, an organization that provides help and advice for parents navigating the online world. Later this year, Sky Kids Safe Mode will launch on Sky Q, helping parents hand pick and ring-fence the content they want their children to watch and password protect content they feel is unsuitable.

"Media profoundly affects our children’s social, emotional and physical well-being and now, more than ever, parents need trusted resources to help them find developmentally appropriate content,” said James Steyer, founder and CEO of Common Sense about the partnership with Sky. “Our goal is to give Sky viewers trustworthy information, so they can decide what works for their child. We know every family and every kid is different, but all families deserve the information to make great media choices.”