With more than 11,000 employees, 6 million cable customers and more than 3 million mobile subscribers in the UK alone, we’re a large business. And through our network expansion, we’re getting bigger – at the end of March 2020 we’d connected 2.2 million premises through our network expansion, Project Lightning. As you’d expect, there are a lot of focus areas for us to consider.*
Focusing on the sustainability issues that matter most
A ‘materiality assessment’ is the process we use to identify and prioritise the sustainability areas that matter most to our stakeholders. This process involves talking to our people, customers, the public and top sustainability thinkers to understand what they believe we should focus on.
We’ve committed to re-evaluating our focus areas on a regular basis to make sure we’re managing the things that matter most. We alternate between conducting an in-depth assessment that involves all of our stakeholders and a lighter touch review where the Sustainability team sense checks our focus areas against desk-based research.
While the key focus areas underpinning our five sustainability goals can be mapped to six of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, because we set our 2020 goals prior to them being published our report does not cover this in detail.
Updating our sustainability focus areas
Our most recent materiality assessment was carried out in Spring 2020. This process included desk-based research and interviews with twelve focus area experts, along with internal and external surveys of Virgin Media people, customers and members of the public and our Executive Committee. The outputs of this research are currently developed into our new strategy and focus areas for 2021 onwards.
Sustainability at Virgin Media
Currently our big area of focus is the impact of digital technology on people, businesses and communities in the UK. It’s right at the heart of how we think about sustainability, which is why our stakeholders expect us to always be thinking about it and acting accordingly.
Protecting children and young people while online and watching TV
At Virgin Media, we believe good things happen when you’re making connections that really matter. Together, we help people access technology so they can do more, be more and have more fun.
We know people overwhelmingly believe digital technology can have an exciting, positive impact on all of our lives. We’ve also heard that people want better technology and clearer guidance from providers, like us, to help keep children safe when online, using their mobiles, or watching television. So, to make sure we’re helping families get the best from digital technology, while keeping children safe, we’ve introduced a range of initiatives:
- Child Safe: a parental controls tool that blocks access to websites that might be unsuitable for children. Child Safe helps to protect any device that’s connected to a Virgin Media home network and it’s included with all Virgin Media broadband packages at no extra cost.
- F-Secure SAFE: Virgin Mobile offers a year’s free protection, followed by 70% off F-Secure, an award winning tool that helps to shield children from unsuitable content on websites and apps and allows parents to manage the times their kids can go online.
- Internet Matters: together with a host of major companies, including BT, Sky, TalkTalk, EE, Google and the BBC, we’re helping parents and carers make informed and timely decisions on what kids get up to online, at every stage of their development.
- Switched On Families: practical, honest, useful support for parents, through an interactive guide and online hub with loads of advice for families, by families.
- Parental controls for live TV: these include PIN protection for movies and adult content, as well as content hiding and channel locking. We also comply with the scheduling rules associated with the 9pm watershed and use PIN technology for video-on-demand and recorded content. In addition, we’ve built parental controls into our TV Go app where the account holder can choose which accounts have access to the service.
- Kids App: in 2017 we launched the Virgin TV Kids app. The app is fun and easy-to-use, while creating a safe environment for pre and early primary school children (3-7 years old) to be engaged and entertained. It brings together more than 2,000 episodes of on demand kids TV, along with reading books and interactive games. The app has been developed to be a safe space, free from advertising and other commercial influences such as no in-app purchases.
The impact of content
Virgin Media is the owner of TV3 Group - Ireland’s number one commercial broadcaster with three free-to-air channels including Virgin Media One, Virgin Media Two and Virgin Media Three. It is a significant investor in home produced content – across news, current affairs and drama.
Virgin Media UK has been contributing to the impact of content debate through our role as an active member of the Responsible Media Forum with the aim to understand and measure the societal impacts of media content, building on existing frameworks and models for measuring impact.
*Statistics sourced from Liberty Global 2020 Q1 Financial Results: https://www.libertyglobal.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Virgin-Media-Fixed-Income-Q1-2020-Release.pdf
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