Published: 6th June 2012

BBFC encourages online film labelling with automatic online classifications for DVD and Blu-Ray releases

The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) is now automatically issuing all films classified for DVD or Blu-ray release with online classifications for use on licensed digital video platforms.

The move aims to help the home entertainment industry streamline their physical and digital products and to provide consumers with the classification symbols they know and trust for their on-demand downloads.

Content classified for DVD or Blu-Ray was previously given an online classification in return for a small additional payment; this has now been abolished. Digital certificates for films classified on Blu-ray and DVD will be included in the charge for DVD and Blu-ray classification from 1 June, providing the same trusted symbols online as consumers recognise from DVD and Blu-ray packaging (U, PG, 12, 15, 18). The BBFC is also removing the membership fee previously required for online only classifications, making them more widely accessible and cost effective for content only available online.

David Cooke, Director of the BBFC, says

'The number of video-on-demand platforms continues to grow and we've been working with the industry for over four years to ensure the public's desire for clear content labelling is met. A key role for the BBFC is child protection and we want as much online content as possible to receive classifications so consumers can make informed decisions about what they and their families watch. 82% of parents say they prefer to download content with BBFC classification symbols and altering the way we provide online classifications will help content providers give consumers the information they need and trust when deciding what to watch.'

Lavinia Carey, Director General of the British Video Association says,

'The development of the BBFC's voluntary online classification service took a great leap forward with the introduction of the speedy and cost effective "Watch & Rate" service for video content not released on disc, as it allows distributors to continue providing viewers the same level of trustworthy age ratings and consumer advice for digital video services as they get on physical discs.  Now any content can be rated without having to pay for membership of the scheme, which should encourage more and more video distributors to use Watch & Rate even if they're not planning a DVD release.'

The BBFC's service for streamed and downloaded content was launched in collaboration with the home entertainment industry in 2008. The service provides trusted classifications, category symbols and Consumer Advice to set-top box, video-on-demand and other online content providers. Key affiliates using the BBFC service include Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment Europe, Warner Bros., Paramount, 20th Century Fox, Universal, BT Vision, Tesco/Blinkbox, TalkTalk, Picturebox and Netflix.