What is Ratings Awareness Month?

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.

The movie and video game ratings and music labeling systems have become an integral part of the culture of entertainment retailing, and the Coalition of Entertainment Retail Trade Associations (CERTA) member companies are committed to providing you information about these systems. 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), National Association of Recording Merchandisers (NARM), and National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO).

Look for information about movie and video game ratings and music labeling in retail establishments and theaters, 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.

Movie theater 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.

Ratings Awareness Month Checklist

Employee Notification Regarding Ratings Awareness Month  Member company executives should notify ALL employees that June 2013 is Ratings Awareness Month, and should describe the company’s activities planned for the month. Theater personnel responsible for press inquiries should be made fully aware of all activities undertaken by the company.

ID-Check Policy Reminder  Member company executives should remind all company employees of your ID-Check policy for “R” and “NC-17″ rated films, via company-wide memo, staff meetings, and other appropriate communication channels.

Personnel Policy Review  Ratings compliance officers should review their personnel policies to ensure proper emphasis on ratings education and enforcement. Any updates or enhancements in those policies should be promptly communicated to all employees.

Display Ratings Posters  Ratings compliance officers should take steps to ensure that posters explaining the ratings system are displayed in every theater complex. Contact NATO if you need additional posters.

Include Ratings Information on Web Site  Ratings compliance officers should work with their company information technology providers to ensure that ratings information is included on your company’s web site. (A checklist specific to web site information is also available.)

Include Ratings Information and Protocols on Online Ticketing Systems and Kiosks  Ratings compliance officers should review the online ticketing system and ticketing kiosks utilized by your company to make sure that ratings information is included in the system. You should also review the prompts utilized when tickets for “R” and “NC-17″ rated movies are ordered to ensure proper age requirement notification.

Monitor One-Sheets to Ensure Ratings Information is Included Once the Movie is Rated  Studio marketing departments should distribute movie posters with ratings information once a movie is rated. Theater personnel must ensure that unrated posters are replaced with rated posters once they become available. If rated posters are not made available after a movie is rated, theater personnel should inform NATO.

Ensure the Compatibility of Trailers  Ratings compliance officers and theater marketing personnel should take steps to ensure that trailers are compatible with the feature film that follows. All trailers should be viewed prior to exhibition, with feature film audience compatibility in mind. Trailers for “R” rated movies should never be shown before films rated “G” or “PG,” and should be viewed and assessed before being shown in conjunction with a “PG-13″ feature. To help NATO members appropriately target trailers, NATO staff compiles and maintains a chart of trailers that the MPAA has “approved for appropriate audiences” and the specific motion pictures for which the trailers have been approved. This information is posted in the “Members Only” section of the NATO website on a confidential basis and should be used only to ensure that trailers are appropriate and compatible with the feature film. NATO members can use their online username and password to access the chart. We encourage exhibitors to always play the trailer tag with each trailer. Exhibitors receiving patron complaints regarding trailer compatibility should inform NATO.

Reach out to Local Newspapers  Ratings compliance officers and company marketing executives should contact newspapers with whom you do business to encourage them to include reasons for the ratings in their movie reviews.

Reach out to Community, Parent and Religious Organizations  Company executives and ratings compliance officers should consider using the NATO ratings power point to provide tutorials to local groups on the rating system. Electronic copies of the tutorial can be obtained by going to www.natoonline.org and clicking on the Ratings Links.

General Patron Education  Company executives and ratings compliance officers should investigate additional ways to use this month to educate patrons about the ratings system. Post your company’s ratings policy where all patrons can see. Encourage box office attendants to mention the ratings in their conversations with patrons. Conduct theater open houses and disseminate ratings information. Reach out to local schools. Create employee contests with ratings themes. Be creative and have fun!

Web Site/Kiosk Movie Ratings Checklist

All movie theater company web sites, all movie ticketing web sites, all ticketing kiosks and all other sites displaying information about movies to which theater company sites are linked should include the following:

  1. Ratings should be prominently displayed in conjunction with all movies referenced on the site;
  2. Ratings reasons should be prominently displayed in conjunction with the rating for all movies referenced on the site;
  3. The site should provide detailed general descriptive information about the MPAA/NATO movie ratings system;
  4. The site should link to rating information available on other sites, such as parentalguide.org, filmratings.com, or MPAA.org; and
  5. The site should include additional warnings related to the admittance of people under age 17 to “R”-rated movies, or people under the age 18 to “NC-17″-rated movies.