British Board of Film Classification

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About the BBFC

The British Board of Film Classification is an independent, non-governmental body which has classified cinema films since it was set up in 1912 and videos/ DVDs since the Video Recordings Act was passed in 1984.

Cinema

The British Board of Film Censors was set up in 1912 by the film industry as an independent body to bring a degree of uniformity to the classification of film nationally. Statutory powers on film remain with the local councils, which may overrule any of the BBFC’s decisions, passing films we reject, banning films we have passed, and even waiving cuts, instituting new ones, or altering categories for films exhibited under their own licensing jurisdiction.

Video

In 1984 Parliament passed the Video Recordings Act. This act stated that, subject to certain exemptions, video recordings offered for sale or hire commercially in the UK must be classified by an authority designated by the Secretary of State. The President and Vice Presidents of the BBFC were so designated, and charged with applying the new test of ‘suitability for viewing in the home’. At this point the Board’s title was changed to the British Board of Film Classification to reflect the fact that classification plays a far larger part in the BBFC’s work than censorship.

Finances

The BBFC is a not for profit organisation, and its fees are adjusted only to cover its costs. In order to preserve its independence, the BBFC never receives subsidies from either the film industry or the government. Its income is solely from the fees it charges for its services, calculated by measuring the running time of films or DVDs submitted for classification.  The BBFC consults the Department of Culture, Media and Sport before making any changes to its fees.