Examination of Witnesses (Questions 500-503)|
29 APRIL 2008
Q500 Chairman: As the father of a
teenage son I am acutely aware of the immense desire on the part
of teenage boys to be able to buy Grand Theft Auto and
games of that kind. I anticipate that there will be a considerable
demand once this particular game reaches the shelves. I am slightly
concerned that the industry is promoting it so hard and creating
exactly the problem Mr Kingsley described, namely that teenagers
will say that they have to have the game and will put pressure
on parents to buy it.
Mr Kingsley: But is that not the
same with virtually anything that grown-ups want to stop kids
of a certain age groups from doing? We have laws in place to try
to stop that.
Q501 Chairman: I cannot think of
any other example where millions of pounds are spent on promoting
something that they are not allowed to do?
Mr Kingsley: It is not promoted
to them but at the legitimate market. I suppose you could talk
about advertising spread and say it is going to a different audience.
If you are doing an outdoor poster you cannot determine who will
look at it or not. The reality is that we ought to be celebrating
something that is probably the world's biggest launch of intellectual
property and is British made. I think that is fantastic and it
should be celebrated. The fact there is an audience there which
would like to buy it but really should not is something for society
Mr Ramsdale: I remember as a 12
year-old in the seventies not being able to wait to watch the
video nasties, and I would guess we have all been there. Alcohol
is another example. Alcohol does very compelling, clever advertising
that people under 18 will see. I think the same rules apply. Fundamentally,
the ASA needs to tell us what is and what is not acceptable and
we need to be compliant, and I would say that so far we have been.
Mr Kingsley: After all, they are
the experts on the whole of advertising.
Q502 Chairman: You will be aware
that there are very strict rules controlling the advertising of
alcohol and there is pressure here to tighten them. Do you think
there may be a case for restrictions on the advertising of video
Mr Ramsdale: If you are deliberately
targeting an inappropriate game to an age demographic and you
know where those people are spending their time you should not
be allowed to do it. If you are being sensible about targeting
the audience I would argue: why?
Mr Jackson: We would say that
we are an important part of media entertainment. All along we
have been saying that legally we should not be treated separately
from film or any other industry because that is the area we are
in. We do not believe that video games should be specifically
targeted because we have tried so hard for so long to get everything
Dr Wilson: Chairman, you are absolutely
right that when advertising takes place and the product has an
18 age rating that fact should be made quite clear. If nothing
else, that helps not only the buyer, the parent, to have the appropriate
information but also the people in the shops.
Q503 Chairman: For instance, in cinemas
Grand Theft Auto should be advertised only in films that
are rated at 18?
Mr Ramsdale: Yes; there are strict
codes on that.
Mr Jackson: The point is that
the ASA codes should apply to all advertising and should be rigorously
enforced and by and large they are.
Chairman: That is all we have for you.
I thank all of you very much.