Following press reports that W H Smith was poised to impose age restrictions on magazine buyers [WAMN: 08-Nov-01], Britain's largest retailer of magazines has issued a firm rebuttal.

WHS attributes the media confusion to a draft set of guidelines issued to its 1,187 UK outlets to help range-planning and buying of magazines. These specifically highlight the instore siting of men's lifestyle magazines to ensure sexual imagery and content do not cause widespread and serious offence.

A separate section of the guidelines covers age classification of CDs and videos, including those carried as cover-mounts. The chain has suggested that all video, CD and DVD material be submitted for age classification.

Explains director John Simpson: “As a family retailer, W H Smith is concerned about some of the material which appears in certain magazines that we sell. We are not trying to act as 'the nation's censor' but we do feel that we must offer W H Smith buyers some guidance on magazine selection.

“Areas of particular concern to us include some sexual content and grossly obscene imagery in magazines which have not traditionally depicted such images.”

News source: PPA Update (UK)