With more than 50 sites, over 170,000 kilometres of network cable in the ground, nearly 14,000 employees and almost 6 million 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. 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 reevaluating our focus areas every two years to make sure we’re managing the things that matter most. We alternate each year 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 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 October 2016 and it built on the learnings from our past reviews. This process included desk based research and interviews with nine focus area experts, along with internal and external surveys of Virgin Media people, customers and members of the public. More detail on the process we took can be found here.
Our next assessment will be completed in March 2019 and the findings shared on our sustainability website.
Sustainability at Virgin Media
Our big area of focus continues to be the impact of digital technology on people, businesses and communities in the UK and Ireland. 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 connected to the people and things that 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
In July 2015 Virgin Media Ireland acquired TV3 and UTV Ireland which now operates under the TV3 Group (rebranding as Virgin Media Television in September 2018), to become Ireland’s number one commercial broadcaster. As Ireland’s number one commercial broadcaster, TV3 operates three free-to-air channels – TV3, 3e and Be3 and is a significant investor in home produced content – across news, current affairs and drama.
We’ve been contributing to the impact of content debate through our role as an active member of the Responsible Media Forum and now we’re a content producer in Ireland - not just a provider - we will be getting even more involved in this debate through this forum and will report back next year on related activity.
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