Newsagents: We won't pay for lads' mag modesty covers

The head of a newsagents trade body has agreed with a report’s recommendation that sexy lads’ mag covers need to be covered up but he insisted that magazine sellers should not bear the cost.

Among the recommendations contained in the Bailey review, looking at the sexualisation of children, was that publishers and distributors provide modesty sleeves for lads’ mags or make modesty boards available to all outlets they supply.

John Lennon, the managing director of the Association of News Retailing, agreed with the report’s recommendations but said the cost should not be met by the retailer.

‘It’s a good idea for retailers that are too small to put these magazines out of the eye-level of children, but I hope these [modesty sleeves] would be supplied by the publishers and not by the retailers,’he said.

The Bailey report also criticised newspapers for the use of ‘sexualised front covers”, but Lennon said this was not a major issues for retailers.

Newspapers are not included in the industry-wide voluntary code of conduct and Lennon said he did not expect this to change, adding: ‘It’s never really been an issue. We’ve had or two complaints from church groups but that’s really about it.”

The Press Complaints Commission‘s remit does not include matters of taste and decency.

A spokesman for the PCC said: ‘Each year we only receive a very small number of complaints relating to the issue you describe and certainly not necessarily against the publications you cite [tabloid newspapers].”

The review was led by Reg Bailey, the chief executive of the Mothers’ Union.

In his report he claimed there was ‘widespread and specific concern’about the display of magazines and tabloid newspapers with ‘sexualised front covers or front pages on shelves where young children can see them”.

He said: ‘Although the content of such ‘lads’ mags’ and newspapers is not pornography in the accepted sense (that is, not strong enough to be considered as ‘top shelf’ magazines), they trade on their sexualised content and many parents think retailers should treat them in the same way as they treat pornography.”

He added: ‘Following a campaign led by Mumsnet, a number of major retailers including supermarkets and petrol stations have agreed to take measures to ensure that ‘lads’ mags’ are displayed out of the view of children.

‘This is a very welcome development, but should be adopted across the whole of the news retail industry.”

Almost 850 parents were asked they had seen any images aimed at adults that they thought were inappropriate for their children to see in recent weeks and 576 said yes.

Of those, 134 mentioned shop displays – with the majority concerned about the display of lads’ mags in newsagents, supermarkets and petrol stations.

In a statement the PPA said: ‘The existing best-practice guidelines for the display of men’s lifestyle magazine, which have been drawn up by publishers in association with the National Federation of Retail Newsagents and endorsed by the Home Office, are sensitive to these concerns and provide retailers with a series of measures to ensure these titles are placed away from the view of children.

‘According to the National Readership Survey, the average age of a reader of men’s lifestyle magazines is 30, and these titles are not created for, or marketed to children.

‘Publishers fully support the cross-industry display guidelines and the PPA welcomes the opportunity to promote them in the wake of the publication of the Bailey Review.

‘The PPA will evaluate the findings and evidence within the Bailey Review to inform its ongoing work with retailers and other stakeholders in the magazine supply chain on the appropriate display of men’s lifestyle magazines.”

The Government will review the situation in 18 months and consider what measures should be taken to meet Bailey’s recommendations.

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