Enough is enough. A public consultation by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) involving more than 10,000 people, has resulted in new Classification Guidelines. They will come into effect on 28 February 2019.
The BBFC’s public consultation revealed that young people and parents want to see an increase in classification guidance, particularly around online content. They would also like to see more consistency across all platforms.
People benefit from age ratings
Demand for age classification has never been higher. 97 per cent of people say they benefit from age ratings being in place. 91 per cent of people (and 95 per cent of teenagers) want consistent age ratings that they recognise from the cinema and DVD to apply to content accessed through streaming services.
David Austin, Chief Executive Officer at the BBFC, said: “Over the last five years the way we consume film and video has changed beyond all recognition. That’s why it’s so important that there is consistency between what people watch on and offline. The research shows that parents and teenagers want us to give them the information and guidance that they need to view what’s right for them.”
The BBFC’s consultation confirms that people feel a heightened sense of anxiety when it comes to depictions of ‘real world’ scenarios. Audiences – especially young people – are likely to be concerned that the situations could happen to them. For example, realistic contemporary scenarios showing terrorism, self-harm, suicide and discriminatory behaviour. This research confirms that the BBFC’s current category standards are reflecting the public mood.
Sexual violence needs higher rating
The large scale research also found that attitudes towards sexual threat and sexual violence have moved on since 2013/14. Although the BBFC already classifies such content restrictively, people told us that certain depictions of rape in particular should receive a higher rating. The BBFC has therefore adjusted its Classification Guidelines in these areas.
Pornography is not suitable for children
People also told us that they expect the strongest sex references, in particular those that use the language of pornography, to be classified at 18. The new guidelines reflect this demand.
David Austin added: “We’re here to listen to what people want, which is why they trust our age ratings. So it’s encouraging to know that we’ve been classifying content in line with what people want and expect when it comes to difficult themes around credible real life scenarios. We also know that people are more comfortable with issues such as action violence, if it’s in a way that they are expecting – such as a Bond or Bourne film. We are updating our standards around depictions of sexual violence and very strong sex references to reflect changes in public attitudes.”
The BBFC found film classification checking is most evident among parents of children under the age of 12, finding that 87 per cent check all or most of the time, and a further 9 per cent check occasionally. Interestingly, there has been a marked increase in the level of claimed classification checking by parents of children aged 12-14 years. This is up from 90 per cent ever checking in 2013 to 97 per cent in 2018.
About The BBFC
The BBFC is independent and not-for-profit. It is here to help everyone in the UK – especially children and families – choose age-appropriate films, videos and websites. With over 100 years’ experience, we regularly consult people across the UK to listen to what they say, think and feel about what’s appropriate for children of all ages to watch. And the services we offer are continually evolving. Now, as well as classifying films released in UK cinemas and on DVD and Blu-ray, we’re providing age-ratings for Video On Demand and music videos online. We also help mobile phone operators set parental controls at the right level. We’re setting the standards for how the adult industry will age-verify people accessing online pornography. This will help give children protection online as well as offline. It will continue to help everyone – children, families and adults – choose well.
Share this article