Call for age stamp angers teen mags

Mizz and Sugar: not just gloss and Gareth Gates

izz and Sugar hit back angrily this week at calls to introduce an age stamp on teen magazines.

The demand for a legally enforced age stamp is expected to be made at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers’ annual conference in Bournemouth next week.

Although the idea has been rejected by the Teenage Magazine Arbitration Panel (TMAP), set up to regulate the content of teen titles, editors are concerned that pressure for tighter age restrictions will increase.

Lysanne Currie, editorial director of Sugar, said the row had been ignited by the publication of Sugar’s 12-page sex special. She said the special was produced in response to the magazine’s postbag – of which 50 per cent of the queries are about sex.

Mizz editor Sharon Christal was also “irritated” by the move. “If reporters and mums and dads read our magazines regularly they would understand how crucial we are to teenage girls’ development. I receive letters from 12-year-olds who have been raped at summer camps. These letters cannot be ignored and they shouldn’t be ignored – these girls are desperate,” she argued.

“It’s not just about glitter, gloss and Gareth Gates.

My team are with them every week, listening to them, which their mums and dads, quite frankly, don’t,” she told Press Gazette.

Christal said if an age stamp was introduced, she would call for it to be applied to titles read by teenage boys, such as FHM and Loaded.

TMAP legal adviser Clare Hoban said the call for an age stamp was “misinformed”. She pointed out that the regulation of teen magazines was tighter than in any other part of the industry, with magazines aimed at teenage girls being monitored by TMAP every month.

If there was a problem with content the panel would respond proactively, irrespective of whether a member of the public had complained, Hoban added.

The Periodical Publishers Association said the number of complaints against teen titles had fallen dramatically since TMAP was set up in 1996.

The proposal for an age stamp follows a series of newspaper articles attacking the teen press.

Hachette Filipacchi is understood to have consulted its lawyers over coverage of Sugar in the Daily Mail and was particularly angered by a suggestion that Sugar was giving away free condoms to its readers.

By Ruth Addicott

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