- Milestone year for BBFC age ratings – 20 years of the 12A, 40 years of PG, 15 and 18.
- Strengthened partnerships with UK streaming services to carry trusted BBFC guidance, supporting audiences to make safe and informed viewing choices online.
Today, the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) has published its Annual Report and Accounts for 2022, which marked the BBFC’s 110th year of content classification. Findings from the Report showed a promising uplift in overall content submitted for classification across cinema, online and home entertainment. The BBFC classified 1,057 cinema films, 5,527 video submissions and 3,649 online submissions, with cinema classifications increasing by 60% to reach near pre-pandemic submission levels.
In a milestone year for the BBFC’s iconic age ratings, 15 was the most common category for both online and physical media submissions. From blockbusters like The Woman King to indie hits such as The Worst Person In The World, the 15 represented 42% of all classified content in 2022. Meanwhile, last year also saw some well-known features resubmitted to the BBFC for classification, including 1970s classic Watership Down. The BBFC originally gave the film a U rating when it was first released in 1978. In line with the BBFC’s current Classification Guidelines, it then reclassified it from U to PG in 2022, reflecting how audience perspectives have changed over time. The BBFC also reclassified another high-profile film, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, under the current guidelines as PG – a shift up from its original U rating in 1979.
When distributors resubmit content for classification, Compliance Officers consider it against the current Classification Guidelines to ensure BBFC classification decisions remain in step with societal standards. The BBFC’s published guidelines are the result of wide-scale consultations with thousands of people from across the UK, extensive research, and more than a century of experience. It updates them every four to five years to ensure that BBFC guidelines continue to meet the expectations and values of people across the UK. The BBFC will consult on its guidelines this year, with any changes required by the research coming into force in early 2024.
Additional key insights from the BBFC’s Annual Report and Accounts include:
Increased presence of trusted BBFC guidance online – in 2022, we licensed 29 services to carry BBFC age ratings and/or BBFC data on a voluntary, best-practice basis. As of July 2023, this figure has grown to 33 brands and services. Among others, these platforms include Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+, Curzon Home Cinema, Lionsgate+, Netflix, Pluto TV, Sky Store and YouTube Movies & TV.
Positive year-round Education and Outreach engagement – providing young people and educators with further insight into our age ratings and content advice through classroom resources, student seminars and interactive digital content. The BBFC Youth Panel continued to flourish in its second year, working in close collaboration with the BBFC to represent the youth voice and ensure the needs of young people are continually met. Panel members also provide feedback on key classification issues, as well as contributing to exciting projects such as podcast takeovers.
Collaboration with the UK’s Mobile Network Operators to protect children from seeing harmful content on their phones – filtering hundreds of millions of websites unsuitable for children across 3G, 4G and 5G networks.
Continued to work closely with expert organisations and bodies – including Ofcom, Barnardo’s, the office of the Children’s Commissioner for England, and the Internet Watch Foundation.
David Austin OBE, Chief Executive of the BBFC said: “Last year was a landmark year for the BBFC. We reached 110 years of classification and our iconic age ratings celebrated significant anniversaries. We also continued to cement our partnerships with VoD services – and our recently announced AI projects, which explore how new technology might be integrated into the compliance process, aim to deliver scale and enhanced efficiencies for our customers and the wider industry. I’m really excited about the opportunities this next chapter will bring.”
Natasha Kaplinksy OBE, President of the BBFC added: “I’ve always used the BBFC for guidance for myself and my family, so I was delighted to join the organisation as President in 2022. It’s an exciting time to be part of the BBFC, as we’re currently consulting with over 10,000 people across the UK to explore how audience expectations are evolving. We will then reflect these changes in our Classification Guidelines, which set the foundation for all of our age rating decisions, including when older films are resubmitted and receive a new classification. I look forward to unveiling our findings in 2024.”
Read the full 2022 Annual Report and Accounts.
The BBFC is independent and not-for-profit, and here to help everyone in the UK – especially children and families – choose age-appropriate films, videos and websites, wherever and however they watch or use them. Now, as well as classifying films released in UK cinemas and on DVD and Blu-ray, it’s providing age-ratings for Video On Demand and music videos online, and helping Mobile Network Operators set parental controls at the right level. Please visit bbfc.co.uk for further information.
Every year, hundreds of millions of websites are classified in accordance with BBFC standards, with mobile networks restricting access by children using mobile internet services to any website that would be classified 18 under the Mobile Classification Framework. Working hand-in-hand with the Mobile Network Operators to protect young people from viewing harmful content, the BBFC adjudicated on 97 websites last year, placing 33 websites behind adult filters.