British Board of Film Classification

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Getting your views across

Making your views known... New BBFC Guidelines

The BBFC’s new Guidelines are based on the views of over eight thousand members of the public, including many teenagers. For the first time the BBFC has canvassed opinion from both adults and young people with members of public as young as 16 asked their views of film and DVD ratings. The teenagers’ views were taken from schools participating in an online survey which asked about films they had seen and games they had played.

Date 04/06/2009

The BBFC’s Guidelines outline the criteria used to rate films and DVDs in the UK. They are updated every four years and take into account changing views about issues in films such as violence, sex, language and drugs. They also bear in mind the law, expert opinion and research into media consumption.

David Cooke, Director of the BBFC said it was important to regularly update the guidelines to ensure they ‘not only take account of relevant UK legislation, but accurately reflect public attitudes and concerns’.  He accepted that people might not expect a ‘massive shift’ in attitudes since the last guidelines were published in 2005 but stressed there have been some subtle but very important changes made based on what the public have said.

The BBFC classifies thousands of works a year and even slight changes to the Guidelines will have an impact on new and old works coming in for classification. Works which fell on the borderline between two categories previously could now find themselves being pushed into a different category.

‘Discrimination’ is now highlighted as a major concern covering language or behaviour which might be discriminatory on grounds such as race, gender, religion, disability or sexuality. Words such as ‘mong’ or ‘spaz’ are unlikely to be acceptable at the junior categories U and PG.

The category for pre-school children Uc will no longer exist. Works like The Fimbles and In The Night Garden will be classified U but will carry a note to parents on the category stressing they are suitable for the youngest viewers.

There is also detailed focus on tone and effect – ie the way films make the audience feel and a clamp down on horror at the junior categories. So a film like The Others which was rated 12 some years ago would be less likely to be given a 12A now.

In addition The Guidelines now say more about how the BBFC works, going into more detail about how categories are rewarded and what intervention the BBFC may make and why (ranging from making cuts, to asking for warning captions or changing Consumer Advice).

“We know from a number of recent surveys that the work of the BBFC is well known and understood by the UK public and this latest research shows that the BBFC’s decisions are in line with the vast majority of the public’s expectations.  This consultation exercise took particular notice of the views of people who had recently watched a range of films or DVDs and when asked, 82 per cent thought that the BBFC was an effective regulator.  The same people agreed with the ratings given to the films they had watched in 99 per cent of all cases. We have always said that film classification is not a science and that it is impossible to satisfy everyone.  There will always be people who think that we are either too restrictive or too liberal, but it is clear that as far as the vast majority of the UK public is concerned the BBFC is getting it right.”

 

 

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