Online Video Sites Don't Protect Kids, Parents Group Says

Mainstream online video destinations don't do enough to keep explicit content from kids, the Parents Television Council said in a report released Wednesday.

The advocacy group, which monitors decency issues, evaluated the child appropriateness of four online video portals: Hulu, Comcast's (CMSCA) Fancast, AOL's (AOL) Slashcontrol and AT&T's (T) U-verse. None received a better grade than a D.

The study looked at home pages and 602 videos over a three-week period. The council found that standards are more lenient online than on broadcast television, that content ratings were vague and that content that may be unsuitable for children under 14 could be watched by young children.

The president of the Parents Television Council, Tim Winter, said the report proved that the four websites "are failing to protect kids on the Web."

"The content ratings and parental control devices (media corporations) tout as a solution to indecent material on television are not being applied to similarly indecent material on their websites," Winter said.

Video Sites Respond

AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel said in a statement that through a program called Smart Limits the company provides various tools that enable parents to limit the kinds of videos children can view on computers, TVs and cell phones.

AOL disputed some of the report's findings. A spokeswoman for the company said that parental controls can be put in place for Slashcontrol and that it's a site with a primarily adult audience.

"Slashcontrol is not a kids and teens site and is not promoted to kids and teens," AOL said in a statement.

Hulu (which is owned by NBC Universal, News Corp. (NWS), The Walt Disney Co. (DIS) and Providence Equity Partners) and Comcast didn't respond to requests for comment on the study.

The report calls on online providers to implement more effective ways of filtering out content unsuitable for children, including home pages with a parental control option and more explicit ratings.

The Parents Television Council said it chose the sites it did for the study because they're aggregators of commercially supported streaming video. It excluded sites that display their own content exclusively and those that focus on user-generated videos.


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