In most cases the decision is ratified by a Compliance Manager or the Head of Compliance, but if the Compliance Officers are in any doubt or a film sits right on the border between two categories, or if important policy issues are involved, the work may be seen by other members of the BBFC up to, and including, the Chief Executive and Presidential team.
Occasionally we need specialist advice about the legal acceptability of film content or its potential for harm. DVDs are normally seen by one Compliance Officer, particularly when they are viewing the DVD version of a cinema film which has already been age rated.
Compliance Officers look at issues such as discrimination, drugs, horror, imitable behaviour, language, nudity, sex, sexual violence, theme and violence when making decisions. They also consider context, the tone and impact of a work how it makes the audience feel and even the release format for example, as DVDs, Blu-rays and videos for download are watched in the home, there is a higher risk of under-age viewing.
The BBFC is an independent body which was originally established by the film industry in There are obvious benefits to both Local Authorities and the film industry in having a central but independent body bring consistency to the age rating process and accept responsibility for decisions. Local Authorities remain legally responsible for what is shown in cinemas under the Licensing Act and can still overrule the decisions of the BBFC.
This does not happen very often. Local Authorities add an important element of local democracy into the classification process. How can I do this? You can also tweet to us at BBFC. We endeavour to reply to all enquiries.
Can I bring back DVDs from abroad that are not currently rated? There are some exceptions to this for example, educational works or works predominantly concerned with sport, religion and music but all feature films and TV programmes must be age rated. Although it is not a customs offence to import an unclassified video or DVD it must be for your personal use only and the content must not breach the UK law for example, The Obscene Publications Acts and , Protection of Children Act You may therefore purchase unclassified videos or DVDs whilst abroad, provided they contain no illegal material and are solely for personal use.
The U age rating is given to films and DVDs that are likely to be suitable for anyone over the age of four years old. The Uc category no longer exists. The Uc category was a special age rating for DVD, and signalled that content was especially suitable for pre-school children in terms of story, content and presentation. Older DVDs may still carry a Uc symbol. All works that are particularly suitable for pre-school children are now classified U. They carry BBFCinsight which explains they are appropriate for that very young audience.
You can find more details of what might be featured in a U work here. How can I find it? Is every film or DVD on this website? We publish details of classified works on our website and via our twitter feed. You can see a list of recent decisions here. Please note that works can sometimes be sent to us only a few days before release so details may only appear on our website shortly before a film is released in either the cinema or a DVD in the shops.
Rarely, films and DVDs are not classified by us. This sometimes applies to cinema films that feature in film festivals or similar events. The local council where the event is being held is legally allowed to give permission for the film to be shown without a rating.
Please see the next question for further details. What does the E symbol mean, and is it an official category? The E symbol on video packaging indicates that the distributor believes the work to be exempt from a BBFC age rating. Under the Video Recordings Act , a video is an exempted work if it is designed to inform, educate or instruct or is concerned with sport, religion or music.
However, if such a work depicts certain content, for example human sexual activity or gross violence to any significant extent it will need a BBFC age rating. The E symbol is not an official symbol and does not have any legal standing. Nor is it a requirement that it should appear on video cassettes, unlike the BBFC age rating symbols. The BBFC does not examine exempted works and does not decide whether or not a work is exempt.
Are films that are downloaded from the internet rated by the BBFC? Although streaming and downloading of films is not yet regulated by law, working with the major video distributors and platforms, we have developed a scheme for platforms offering downloads and streaming video to use BBFC age ratings and BBFCinsight.
This is designed to help you make informed decisions about what you and your family watch. I'm worried about my child downloading non-certificated works - do you have any tips to help me? Trailers are age rated as an individual title in its own right. Often we rate a trailer months before the film it's advertising has arrived at the BBFC or been rated, sometimes even before the film has been finished.
Examiners note the different issues for example, sex, violence, language and the theme and tone of the trailer before making a recommendation. Age rating decisions may be more restrictive with regard to trailers and advertisements. This is because difficult content in such short works may have a greater impact on an unprepared audience.
A film trailer or advertisement can be shown alongside a feature film as long as it has not been rated higher than the age rating given to that feature. This is still the case if the film trailer is for a feature which has received a rating higher than the film it is being shown alongside. If you believe a trailer has been wrongly shown before a cinema feature, please contact the cinema manager. Please contact the individual cinema who will be able to advise you on their admission policy.
The BBFC is committed to a policy of equality. So scenes and sex references are afforded the same treatment whatever the sexual orientation of those taking part. So whether sex involves heterosexual or homosexual individuals, the same age rating standards are applied. Who signs the black card I see displayed before a film is shown at the cinema? This is an official document and each card is unique, carrying the film's registration number and the age rating it has been given.
How can I tell if a film has been cut? Older films may have also been rated many times over the years. A search for a title on the BBFC website will return a page that gives an overview of the film and it's current classification. The individual rating decisions for each version of the film submitted to the BBFC are collated under "Related works". As cuts will often only apply to a specific release of a title, the details of any cuts are available for each decision under "Related works".
However, where a film is known to have at least one decision with cuts information, the summary page will display the following text at the top of the page. Cuts are detailed for each respective version found under "Related works". Does the BBFC age rate video games? The BBFC will continue to age rate all games featuring strong pornographic Rlevel content and ancillary games attached to a wider, primarily linear submission.
The BBFC will also continue to age rate all non-game linear content on a game disc, such as trailers and featurettes. Film summaries or synopses are provided alongside art work and trailers by MyMovies and do not represent the views of the BBFC. These film summaries are used to ensure BBFC film summaries do not reveal additional information not included in the wider marketing of the film. Where the BBFC might need to include spoilers, for example as part of the BBFCinsight for a film, this is clearly marked with 'The following text may contain spoilers'.
Short BBFCinsight is helpful to parents, but has a limited number of characters. To allow us to include more detail we decided to cease using the word 'contains'. The As Live certificate is a temporary certificate for content we haven't examined and is valid for 7 days after the live performance only. The As Live rating is awarded based upon information provided by the company organising the event, including details of any restrictions applying to children attending the live event, ie children under [x years] not admitted.
If a recording of the same performance is then submitted for classification, it may receive a higher or lower classification when it is examined.
Why do you show BBFCinsight on the black card before a film begins when it can sometimes contain spoilers? Ever since we began offering BBFCinsight, we have sought to achieve a balance between giving consumers the information they need to make informed viewing decisions and avoiding giving away plot spoilers.
By and large, we have achieved this. However, the issue of spoilers has arisen on occasion since when we began publishing short form BBFCinsight on the black card immediately prior to the screening of a film. Before that, it wasn't really a problem. Even now, it is only rarely that people seem to be unhappy with BBFCinsight being published on black cards immediately prior to a film. Following our six month trial, we will continue to implement a new policy for short form BBFCinsight, whereby we make a judgement as to whether short form BBFCinsight really does have to include a potential plot spoiler and if it must, consider whether it can be withheld from the black card immediately prior to the film.
How are BBFC standards for adult sex works and R18 works used in the regulation of pornography available online? On 1 December , the Communications Act was amended. The regulation of R18 pornographic content available on demand in the UK will henceforth be subject to the same standards as those applied to pornography on DVD by the British Board of Film Classification.
The Audiovisual Media Services Regulations amended the Communications Act setting out statutory obligations for media distributors of on-demand content. The R18 category is a special and legally-restricted classification primarily for explicit works of consenting sex, or strong fetish material involving adults. While some non-pornographic films may contain material which raises issues comparable with those which might be found in sex works, and which may also be subject to cuts - such as scenes of sexual violence - there is no direct cross over between the standards for sex works and those applied to non-pornographic films.
Underpinning the BBFC Guidelines is a specific requirement of the Video Recordings Act to have special regard to any harm that may be caused to potential viewers, or, through their behaviour, to society. This means that, before classifying a work, the BBFC may cut certain acts in pornographic works where imitation or the influencing of attitudes is a particular concern. Breath restriction is one such example. Breath restriction for the purposes of sexual enjoyment can result in death.
This includes prosecution under the Obscene Publications Act We regularly consult both the Crown Prosecution Service and the Metropolitan Police to understand and keep up to date with the types of content which are subject to prosecution and conviction.
Consequently, we may not classify any material which may be subject to prosecution. Among other activities, this includes any repeated focus on urination during sex and urination over any other person, including any act which cannot be distinguished from urination on the basis of the onscreen evidence alone.
It has recently been suggested that the introduction of the Audiovisual Media Services Regulations will lead to several acts now being banned from UK on-demand services, including spanking and verbal abuse. Much of this information is inaccurate, some of it is wrong.