Published: 1st July 2013

BBFC replaces the Independent Mobile Classification Board (IMCB) as the regulation framework provider for mobile internet content

The Mobile Broadband Group is appointing the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) to take over from the Independent Mobile Classification Board (IMCB) in providing the independent framework that underpins the Mobile Operators' code of practice, established in 2004, for the self regulation of new forms of content on mobile.

The Classification Framework enables mobile operators to restrict access to their commercial content that is unsuitable for customers under the age of 18. The Framework is applied to commercial content such as: video and audio/video material; or mobile games.  The framework is also used by the mobile operators to calibrate the internet filters that parents can use to restrict content accessible by children via a mobile operator’s internet access service.

Hamish MacLeod, chair of the Mobile Broadband Group, commented: "We are very grateful for the excellent work that the IMCB has done over the last 8 years to support our code. However, with customers increasingly consuming content via mobile networks, we feel that the BBFC's unparalleled expertise will be best suited to provide us with the independent framework and guidance for the future."

David Cooke, Director of the BBFC said: “We are pleased to be able to use our experience and expertise, including the insight we have into public opinion about what kind of content is suitable for under 18s to help Mobile Operators to restrict access to content accessed via mobile networks by those under 18. Parents are concerned about the content children access via mobile devices and the BBFC Framework takes into account the same issues the BBFC considers when age rating a film or DVD, such as strong language, violence, drug use, discrimination, sex and nudity.”

The BBFC works to published Classification Guidelines based on large scale public consultation exercises involving around 10,000 people. The Classification Guidelines are formally revised every 4-5 years.

The BBFC Classification Framework is a living document which will be updated regularly to reflect evolving public attitudes and societal concerns.

Premium rate voice services or premium rate SMS (text only) services are not covered by the BBFC Classification Framework and continue to operate under the PhonepayPlus Code of Practice.

Over the coming weeks, the parties involved will put in place the necessary transition arrangements and the BBFC Classification Framework will come into use on 2 September 2013.


The mobile operators' code of practice for the self regulation of new forms of content on mobile was originally published in 2004. It is administered by the Mobile Broadband Group, whose members are EE, Telefonica UK (O2), Three and Vodafone. 

To date the independent framework for mobile commercial content has been provided by the Independent Mobile Classification Body, a subsidiary of PhonepayPlus, the premium rate services regulator.