Published: 10th July 2012

BBFC Annual Report 2011: BBFC find out their value in the internet age, announce plans for new research into sexual violence & adopt a tougher line on exempt video content

Sexual violence in films and the availability of content potentially harmful to children in exempt videos were two key issues for the BBFC in 2011 and are carrying through into work undertaken by the BBFC in 2012.

In 2011 the BBFC considered The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence) (in which a man achieves sexual gratification from the stapling together of victims to form a human centipede and which culminates in him raping a woman with barbed wire) and The Bunny Game (in which a truck driver abducts, strips and sexually abuses and tortures a prostitute).

The BBFC intervened with both of these works on account of their depictions of extreme violence against women. It made significant cuts to The Human Centipede 2 and refused to certify The Bunny Game because of the harm risk both works posed.

Partly as a result of these and other films, the BBFC is commissioning a major new piece of original research into depictions of sadistic, sexual and sexualised violence, mainly against women, to determine what the British public today believes is potentially harmful and therefore unacceptable for classification.  The research will be completed in 2012 and the BBFC will publish it in the usual way, not least because it might be helpful to other regulators.

At the same time the BBFC responded to the promise of a DCMS consultation on exempt video works in 2012. The BBFC, British Video Association, British Phonographic Industry, the Video Standards Council and the Entertainment Retailers Association all support a technical adjustment to the Video Recordings Act whereby content in exempt videos which is potentially harmful to children should lose the video its exemption.

David Cooke, Director of the BBFC said:

'In 2011 Reg Bailey highlighted concerns about the sexualisation of children through readily available audio-visual material that is exempt from classification. The BBFC hope that an adjustment to the Video Recordings Act will help prevent children from being exposed to strongly violent or sexual content, whether in music videos, instructional DVDs or documentaries.'

The issue of sexual violence in films in 2011 will also be considered in more depth in 2012, with new research into the public's opinion around portrayals of sexual violence due to be published in the autumn.'

The 2011 annual report also reports findings of research into what value the British public place on the BBFC in the internet age. Independent research carried out in June 2011 demonstrated conclusively that the public values the BBFC's work to bring content advice online.  That research showed that while the public considers the internet to bring greater choice, freedom and flexibility, the majority of viewers still consider it important to be able to check the suitability of audio-visual content they download.  As more viewing takes place online, consumers expect that the same level of BBFC support will apply online as currently applies offline:  85% consider it important to have consistent BBFC classifications available for VOD content, rising to 90% of parents of children under 16.

David Cooke, Director of the BBFC said:

'The BBFC has worked with the home entertainment industry since 2008 to develop voluntary content labelling strategies for online and Video On Demand (VOD) content and it's encouraging to know the public still want a trusted guide to online content.  This is also recognised by on-demand content providers and in 2011 we welcomed several new subscribers to our online service, including BT Vision, Talk Talk, Netflix and British Airways.'

The availability of BBFC film content advice was also expanded in 2011: Consumer Advice and Extended Classification Information (ECI) were made available to even more smartphone users with the introduction of an Android version of the free BBFC App, previously only available for iPhone.

A podcast about film classification was also launched to further engage the public with the BBFC Guidelines and key classification themes, as well as high-profile classification decisions.


Notes to editors The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) is an independent, private, not for profit company which classifies films, videos, DVDs and certain video games, advertisements and trailers.  The BBFC operates transparent, well-understood and trusted co-regulatory and self regulatory classification regimes based on years of expertise and published Guidelines which reflect public opinion and the risk of harm; and is accountable to Parliament.