The covers of men’s magazines are at the centre of a dispute after a call by an MP to have them shifted to the top shelf.
Andrew Selous, Conservative MP for South-West Bedfordshire, raised the issue in parliamentary questions, claiming children are being exposed to “increasingly lurid” covers. He cited FHM, GQ, Maxim and Front among the worst offenders.
Selous said he had received a number of complaints, primarily from parents of young children. “I’m not calling for censorship or for these magazines to be banned, I am asking for a voluntary code of conduct,” he told Press Gazette.
He accused the magazines of going for “more and more suggestive poses” as competition in the market grows stronger. And he is urging the Periodical Publishers Association and other trade associations to write to retailers asking them to consider the visibility level at which the magazines are displayed.
The PPA has told Selous there is already legislation in place, such as the Obscene Publications Acts.
In a letter, the PPA said: “We have had no details of any police prosecution based on the nature of magazine front covers, from which we assume that the current standard of front covers is not a matter of serious enough concern for the police to prosecute.”
The letter also refers to the “planogram” – agreed guidelines for the positioning of magazines – but admitted that while larger supermarkets might be able to implement the planogram fully, it might not always be an option for smaller retailers.
Selous said the guidelines were “clearly not working or good enough”.