In 1995 Tynwald passed the Video Recordings Act which brought legislation covering video sales to the Isle of Man for the first time. This Act was modelled on the UK Act but was extended to provide greater control over video suppliers as Tynwald perceived a problem with children viewing unsuitable video material.
The Office of Fair Trading has the task of implementing and policing this act for all video material sources. This means that we have not just concentrated on the video tape suppliers, although strict regulations cover these, but we have expanded our coverage to address the fast increasing amount of video material from other unregulated sources such as CD ROM and DVD for both games and films.
Since October 1997 all suppliers of age-classified videos must be registered with the Isle of Man Office of Fair Trading.
As part of this registration all suppliers have agreed to adhere wherever possible to a code of practice which helps to achieve a much higher level of awareness amongst both the suppliers and customers of the potential problems associated with supplying age-classified videos to children under that age.
There are two categories of video supplier:
- The supplier who is a registered supplier of age-classified videos, such as videos with a British Board of Film Censors (BBFC).
- The supplier who is exempt from registering because they only supply videos that are BBFC classified Uc, U, PG or are exempt from classification which is the case with educational or sporting videos.
A registered video supplier should display stickers on and around the video display. In addition, the Suppliers Registration certificate should be on display somewhere in the public area of the premises. A register of all registered video suppliers is maintained for public viewing at the OFT.
Each registered outlet should have trained all its members of staff in the legal requirements of video supply and the penalties that can be handed out should anyone supply to an under age person. We supply training material supplied by the Video Standards Council free of charge to all suppliers.
The penalties under the act are severe with a maximum £20,000 fine and up to 6 months in jail. We believe that the customer education, sales-staff education and penalties provide a great deterrent to supplying to under-age customers.
Registered suppliers are visited from time to time by the Trading Standards Division to ensure that they are meeting the appropriate display and staff training standards required by the Office of Fair Trading. If you feel that someone who is not registered should be or have any complaints about any video supplier, then please contact the Office of Fair Trading with details of your misgivings.
Suppliers of age-classified video material are relatively easily regulated but form only a small part of the video material that we see. Most video material seen by children is officially unregulated and is provided by TV, satellite TV, cable TV and the Internet. It is impossible for somewhere the size of the Isle of Man to regulate the content of these broadcasts, especially satellite broadcasts which is the fastest growing source of video material at the moment.
The Office of Fair Trading recognises that it cannot not affect these forms of video content by regulation and so instead has chosen to provide all primary schools with an educational programme about the nature of what they see on TV. This programme teaches the most vulnerable age group of children about all aspects of the video image thereby providing them with an awareness that what they see is not real, but merely the camera's view of events. This programme, called Teaching Television in the Primary School, will we hope provide children with a critical faculty that can be used to protect them from any ill effects they might otherwise experience when viewing unsuitable material which we believe they inevitably will.
If you have problems proving that you are the correct age to buy age restricted goods an 18+ Proof of Age Card is available.