On Screen Classification
Viewers of RTÉ One and RTÉ Two may have noticed small icons in the top right hand corner of their screens. The icons appear for 20 seconds at the start of programmes. This signals the beginning of a unique initiative which will see RTÉ gradually move to a situation where most programmes will be classified as to content.
The system is an information service to television viewers, letting them know more about the content of scheduled programmes so that they can make informed decisions to view or not to view. Childrens and young adults' programmes will be labelled as such. Programmes with explicit sex or violence more suited to a mature audience will not merely be scheduled after the 9pm watershed but will be flagged on screen.
There will be five classes:
General Audience (GA) - a programme that would be acceptable to all ages and tastes.
Children (Ch) - a programme aimed specifically at children, i.e. the pre-teenage or very young teenage audience.
Parental supervision (PS) - a programme aimed at a mature audience, i.e. It might deal with adult themes, be moderately violent, frightening or contain an occasional swear word.) and the classification label invites parents or guardians to consider restricting children's access.
Suggested for mature audience (MA) - a typical "post-watershed" programme which might contain scenes of sexual activity or violence, or the dialogue might be profane.
BAI Required Classification
The existence of products within programmes is normal and fully justified. A programme which showed a shop without products or a street without cars, for example, would be abnormal and unrealistic.
In some cases, companies provide such products to programmes free-of-charge.
The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) has passed a new code 'General Commercial Communications Code' which applies to all broadcasters within this jurisdiction. This includes recommendations for making viewers aware when product placement (PP) occurs: when products given free-of-charge to programme makers are of sufficiently significant value
According to the code:
'This rule recognises that the provision of products, services, facilities etc., for use in a programme is legitimate in order to ensure programme realism and/or to defray programme costs and/or to add value for viewers.
The product placement rules will only apply where the cumulative value of all the products, services, facilities etc., featured in an individual programme is of 'significant' value. At this time, significant value is over €5,000 per programme.' (General Commercial Communications Code', BAI, May 2010)
Until 31 December 2010, all broadcasters in the jurisdiction are required under this code to place a 'PP' logo on a full screen message prior to the commencement of a programme in which product placement occurs, in order to familiarise viewers with the concept and the logo. There will also be a smaller 'PP' logo which will visible on screen on return to the programme following a commercial break. Acknowledgements of products and the companies supplying these will be listed in programme closing-credits