The Periodical Publishers Association and magazine editors have responded to calls for a law that would move lads’ mags to the top shelf.
Labour MP Claire Curtis-Thomas lodged a bill in Parliament on Tuesday, arguing for legally-binding measures to keep sexually explicit magazines out of sight of children.
But the PPA has responded to the motion, arguing that a voluntary code would be “far more effective and flexible than any statutory regulation”.
It has written to MPs to remind them of recent Home Office guidelines on displaying lads’ mags. These recommend that retailers do not display them at children’s eye level and not adjacent to children’s titles and comics.
Front magazine editor, Johnny Sharp, was among those who demonstrated outside Parliament against the bill on Tuesday. Sharp said he rejected the claims of campaign groups, including Object, who say lads’ mags objectify women.
He said: “A sex object is where you present a woman as someone who’s got nothing to say for herself. The whole tradition of lads’ mags is interviewing women with humour to see if these girls are up for a laugh and have a personality.
That’s the appeal of these women, not that they are vacant dollybirds.”
He added: “No one is suggesting lads’ mags should be placed next to children’s magazines, but neither should they be placed alongside real adult titles. The vast majority are currently racked one or two shelves below the top, a perfectly reasonable height to be out of children’s reach, but not hidden from view as if they are something shameful.” Press Gazette asked Tony Blair at an audience with the British Society of Magazine Editors this week whether he felt tighter control over the display of lads’ mags were necessary.
Blair said: “I don’t know what I think about this actually. I’ve a fairly liberal mind on this. But I think it’s important that it’s obviously not available for kids where it’s inappropriate.
“If it’s allowed for the PM not to have an extremely firm view on something, I don’t really have one on that.”