The BBC is to solve the online watershed conundrum by launching a children's version of the iPlayer.
The kids interface is expected to launch before Christmas and will allow users to access only a limited range of programmes, sidestepping the problem of children potentially accessing post-watershed content.
Presently, users tick a box to confirm they are old enough to watch certain content irrespective of the time of day.
A senior BBC source told Broadcast: [The kids iPlayer] creates a walled garden of content that's appropriate for children. This will also enable us to promote it on the children's TV channels and websites, which we haven't been able to do
The corporation is thrashing out the detail of the new service, including whether it will offer all pre-watershed content, just children's and family shows, or just those made specifically for the CBeebies and CBBC channels.
The BBC Trust has said that stringent parental controls should always be included on BBC iPlayer to ensure children do not watch inappropriate content. The BBC's governing body expressed concern yesterday that there is no direct equivalent of
the watershed online .
According to the Trust's latest review of BBC Editorial Guidelines, clearer labelling must be placed on the catch-up service to flag up strong or challenging content . When we make audio or visual content available on demand on BBC
platforms, and where appropriate, we must provide information to enable users to understand its context and to make informed choices about its suitability, both for themselves and for children, before they access, the organisation said.
The new editorial standards stipulate that any post-watershed programming should be flagged with a G For Guidance rating to highlight its potential unsuitability for younger audiences, with a system of content labels indicating the
More stringent parental controls must also be included on BBC iPlayer, involving a lock function for challenging content which can then only be accessed by inputting a password.
Both these functions are already in place on the catch-up service, but this is the first time that the editorial guidelines have factored in their provision.
The Trust is now holding a public consultation on the proposed guidelines, with licence fee payers able to have their say until December 24. When approved, the new editorial standards will come into force in summer 2010.