JUNE 2014

School is out for the summer, and that means that your children will probably be watching more movies, playing more video games, and listening to more music.

It is a good time, therefore, to learn more about the motion picture and video game ratings and music labeling systems that exist to help you make informed choices about the entertainment brought into your home. For these systems to be effective, parents must understand and use the ratings and labeling information available to them.

Click below to learn more about these systems:

The movie and video game ratings and music labeling systems have become an integral part of the culture of entertainment retailing, and our member companies are committed to providing you information about these systems.

Look for information about movie and video game ratings and music labeling in retail establishments and theatres, and on the websites of the companies that operate them. This information may take the form of posters, brochures, shelf talkers, kiosks, other in-store signage, video loops, and information in advertisements and on websites. Placement of these materials varies, but establishments try to place them so that they you will notice them.

Sales associates are trained on the ratings and labeling systems, so ask them if you have any questions.

In addition to providing you with the information you need, music, video, and video game retailers and motion picture theatres are committed to helping you make appropriate entertainment decisions.

Motion Picture Theatres

Movie theatre operators that are members of the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) have committed to enforce an ID-check policy for all movies rated R or NC-17 by the Motion Picture Association of America. In addition, they have agreed to program only trailers (advertisements for future movies) that are compatible with the main feature and meet certain established guidelines for appropriate placement.

Video and Video Game Retailers

Video and computer and video game retailers that are members of the Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA) have endorsed policies:

  • Not to sell or rent videos or video games designated as restricted to persons under 17 without parental consent, including all movies rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and all video games rated Mature by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB).
  • Not to sell or rent videos rated NC-17 by the MPAA or video games rated Adults Only by the ESRB to persons age 17 or under.

Some rental stores further allow parents to establish stricter guidelines or impose different limits on different children.

Major retailers that sell video games have entered into a “Commitment to Parents,” pursuant to which they agree to:

  • Voluntarily enforce the Mature and Adults Only ratings of computer and video games;
  • Post signage about the ESRB computer and video game ratings and their store policies;
  • Include computer and video game ratings in advertising and marketing;
  • Train employees (and discipline as appropriate); and
  • Provide consumers with a dispute resolution process for sales and rentals in violation of the store’s policies.

The program also includes an agreement by the retailers to regular secret shopping by an independent third party to determine whether children under age 17 are able to purchase Mature-rated games at their stores.

Music Retailers

The members of the Music Business Association (Music Biz) support the Parental Advisory Program of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

The Parental Advisory Program is not a rating program, nor is it age-based or an indicator that a recording displaying a Parental Advisory logo is inappropriate for a minor. Music retailers support the Parental Advisory Program in different ways, based on market considerations and the character of the community in which the store is located:

  • Some stores choose not to stock music with a Parental Advisory label at all.
  • Some stores let the Parental Advisory speak for itself.
  • Some retailers impose their own age-based sales policy for unaccompanied minors.
  • Many retailers check IDs when they suspect that a customer may be too young or may not have parental permission to buy a certain recording.
  • Some retailers incorporate a register prompt in the store's point-of-sale system to check ID when the clerk scans the barcode of a Parental Advisory-labeled CD.

This variety of approaches allows parents to shop at the stores that best meet their family's needs.

The Coalition of Entertainment Retail Trade Associations (CERTA) represents approximately 1,500 retailers and exhibitors, who operate more than 35,000 theatres, video and video game stores, music stores, online music and media services, and other retail establishments that offer entertainment products and who employ more than 750,000 people. CERTA is comprised of the Digital Media Association (DiMA), Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA), Music Business Association (Music Biz) , and National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO).