Published: 8th June 2011

BBFC Publishes 2010 Annual Report


Sexual violence, strong language and the sexualisation of children were the three dominant classification issues for the BBFC in 2010. At the same time the BBFC continued to work with the industry to develop voluntary content labelling strategies for online and Video On Demand (VOD) content outside the Board's traditional statutory regulatory role.

Announcing the publication of the Annual Report for 2010, David Cooke, Director of the BBFC, said:

"A number of the BBFC's classification decisions were the subject of public and media debate in 2010. The significant cuts to reduce sexual and sexualised violence in I Spit on Your Grave and A Serbian Film in order to obtain an '18' rating prompted some commentators to suggest that the BBFC had suddenly tightened its policies. In both instances, the decisions were firmly in line with our published classification Guidelines which result from extensive and regular consultation with the public. The '15' and '12A' classifications, given respectively, to two highly praised British films, Made in Dagenham and The King's Speech, also prompted lively debate in the media about the Board's language policies. It is clear that the public still expects us to be vigilant on language issues: the distinction between the two films was that The King's Speech involved an exceptional context, that of speech therapy, for which there was no equivalent in Made in Dagenham. "

The third area of debate was the sexualisation of children. As a result of public concern, the Government launched a review into the commercialisation and sexualisation of children. The BBFC submitted evidence to the consultation covering how we deal with the sexualisation of children in works submitted for classification. One area where this is of concern is some music videos. Most music videos are exempt from classification, but some distributors do submit them to us on a voluntary best practice basis. The well recognised and trusted BBFC symbols and content information on these works mean that parents can make informed decisions about which material is appropriate for their children. We are working with the home entertainment industry on ways of better informing consumers about the content of such video works.

"The fact that our symbols and content advice are well recognised and trusted is proving attractive to companies providing video content in the online and Video On Demand world. The voluntary service set up in partnership with the home entertainment and film industries in 2008, continues to expand and attract new members. In addition we have also launched a voluntary scheme we call Watch and Rate for works not covered by statutory regulation, to be distributed as VOD only. Watch and Rate offers robust child protection online and allows the industry to test the market for a particular product by trialling it online before going to the expense of pressing and distributing DVDs.

"We have also begun providing compliance services to companies supplying VOD and other online services. We are able to perform this role because of the unrivalled expertise we have built up over many years fulfilling the statutory responsibilities accorded to us by Government.

"Providing detailed information about the content of works we have classified is central to the role of the BBFC now and in the future. Our Consumer Advice and Extended Classification Information (ECI) are available on both our main website and our website specifically for parents. We are looking at ways of bringing that information to even more consumers. One way we are doing that is via the BBFC's free App for iPhones which enables access to ECI wherever you happen to be. This has been very well received and, by popular demand, we will be rolling out an Android version very shortly.

"We are looking forward to our centenary year in 2012 which will see us working even closer with industry customers to make classification (whether statutory, voluntary, physical or digital) easier and quicker, while maintaining the same rigorous levels of child protection and provision of information and support to a standard and richness which we believe to be a world-leader."