A report calling for men’s magazines to carry age certification has been dismissed by some editors who claim the Government has more important issues it should be discussing.
MP Claire Curtis-Thomas has compiled a report demanding that men’s magazines and ‘downmarket newspapers’ should carry age certificates of 16 and 18 depending on content.
The Periodical Publishers Association and Home Office currently govern the display of lads’ magazines such as Zoo and Nuts with a voluntary code of practice among newsagents, recommending that they display them above children’s eye level.
But Curtis-Thomas is reported to claim in her study, which she has been researching for 18 months, that newsagents are flouting these guidelines and is optimistic that ministers will take up her recommendations.
Editor of monthly men’s magazine Front Joe Barnes said that he was not opposed to a 16 rating for his magazine as the majority of his readers are aged over 16.
He said: ‘I don’t believe that men’s magazines and lads’ magazines are corrupting at all. Kids always want that [nudity], I just think it’s like fighting and endless fire.
“I don’t think it would damage sales, and I don’t think it needs parliament time spent on it. I think there are much bigger issues that need debating, and there’s no demand for it at all.”
Barnes added that the content available in men’s magazines is “tame” compared to content children can access on the internet and through viral texts and email messages.
‘Perhaps they should be more worried that kids have access with broadband internet to unregulated really hard pornography. They’re more media savvy than their parents, that’s where 12-14 year olds are seeing much worse content,” he said.
Front prides itself on its high nipple count, boasting in the magazine that it is not following the path of other men’s magazines – such as FHM and Maxim – that have recently decided to keep nipples covered up in an attempt to be more upmarket.
Maxim editorial director Ben Raworth said: ‘It doesn’t affect Maxim as we don’t have flesh on show. I don’t think it’s going to affect people in bikinis [or underwear] because she’ll be moving a lot of women’s magazines onto the top shelf as well. If it’s a catch all women in bikinis you’d be looking at underwear catalogues etcâ€¦ It’s just a storm in a teacup that doesn’t concern us.”
The PPA, which first heard about Curtis-Thomas’s report today and was not consulted, said it was opposed to age classification of magazines.
A spokeswoman said: “We work closely with retailers to advise them how best to display magazines, but ultimately we leave it to retailers to use their discretion to rack titles as they feel appropriate to their customers and business.”
The Daily Star, Daily Sport and Loaded and Nuts publisher IPC Media declined to comment, and Zoo publisher Bauer Media referred to the PPA’s statement.