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2010: Jan-March

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31st March   

Update: Four Lions at the BBFC...

BBFC comment on classifying material that may offend the easily offended
Link Here

Chris Morris's 2010 UK terrorist comedy was passed 15 uncut by the BBFC with the consumer advise: Contains strong language and sex references.

The BBFC explain their decision as follows:

Four Lions is a satirical comedy about British Muslims who aspire to be suicide bombers. It has been passed 15 for strong language and sex references.

There are over fifty uses of strong language, mostly in English but several in untranslated Urdu, which go beyond what is acceptable under the BBFC's Guidelines at 12A/12 where The use of strong language (for example, 'fuck') must be infrequent . In terms of sex references, strong verbal references to sexual behaviour are permitted at 15 and the verbal descriptions of sex in this work fell short of containing the strongest references which might have placed it at 18 instead.

The theme is treated in a manner designed to satirise, rather than to promote or endorse, terrorist activity and is therefore appropriately contained at 15 where No theme is prohibited, provided the treatment is appropriate for 15 year olds . Few of the range of individuals and groups portrayed in the film escape its comic and satirical scope: this may give rise to offence in some quarters, but this would not have been mitigated by artificially raising the category to 18.

Four Lions also contains moderate comic violence, and self referential uses of Paki which in this comic context are not endorsed.


26th March   

Updated: Killer Bitch at the BBFC...

Sounds interesting
Link Here

Our upcoming Killer Bitch film had to change its title to Killer Babe to satisfy a major UK retailer who objected to the word Bitch or B***h or B**** . Apparently bitch was considered offensively sexist but babe was/is not. That retailer has now seen what is in the actual movie itself and has backed out of stocking it.

So we are reverting to the original title Killer Bitch , known and loved by many including, I can only presume, Joan Collins.

Meanwhile, indecision still reigns in the labyrinthine corridors of the BBFC (the British Film Censors). They had their normal screening of the movie by a single Examiner... then an uncommon second screening for other Examiners... then a third screening for the BBFC's Director... and they still couldn't reach a decision... So now there will be a fourth screening for the BBFC Chairman this week and, allegedly they will then decide on Friday or Monday. Frankly, if they are going to have this many screenings to this many people, I think the least they could do is buy a copy.

But, as a result of all this delay, the release of the DVD has been put back to Bank Holiday Monday 3rd May, coincidentally 24 hours after the British Erotic Awards Film Day on 2nd May.

Update: News of the World Recommends Killer Bitch

21st March 2010. From

Ultra-violent rape scenes starring Jordan's husband Alex Reid are to be cut from his new movie. Reid's gangster gore-fest Killer Bitch is currently with the BBFC, who will demand some of the sickest scenes are cut if the movie is to get even an 18 certificate.

Among the 'sickening' scenes, cage-fighter Alex was seen stripping co-star Yvette Rowland down to her red and black lingerie before straddling her. A fully naked Reid then grabs Yvette in a stranglehold and throttles her, swearing and grunting in front of the cameras.

The 'sick' rape scene prompted Jordan - real name Katie Price - to demand Alex back out of the film and sparked controversy after she revealed she was the victim of rape in response to the criticism.

A movie insider said: They are looking at making cuts to the scenes Alex is involved in, which many on the film find unfair as the storyline is very hard hitting and realistic. It was an aggressive rape scene but the woman ends up supposedly enjoying it. Alex didn't have any qualms about being naked in front of everyone. It was all very aggressive and he was really throwing himself into the role, grunting furiously. Aside from that there are some other violent scenes. Reid also gets a thumping from other real life hardmen. Some of Alex's scenes will make the final cut and we're all hoping some of the rape scene makes it. But it's the only scene that the BBFC are scrutinising.

Our source added: Many people who worked on the film fear it is too violent for release. Alex's fight scenes are all in the film, and not subject to cutting. They are very brutal scenes, especially a fight with Alex and 'Stormin' Norman Buckland, the new Guv'nor of unlicensed British boxing and former bare-knuckle champion. It was a real heavy duty fight, regardless of the camera being present.

Update: Killer Bitch passed 18 uncut

23rd March 2010. Based on article from

The BBFC has now passed Killer Bitch uncut, although only just. At one point we were told it was more likely than not that there would be cuts demanded. The movie was passed after a normal screening by a BBFC Examiner; an abnormal second screening by more than one Examiner; a special screening for the BBFC Director; a special screening for the BBFC Chairman; and a letter from the movie's director defending what is shown in Killer Bitch .

There were two scenes that were said to be of special concern. One was the much-commented-on Alex Reid sex scene which has been widely referred to in the press (but never by us) as a rape scene. The other cause for BBFC concern was, we were told, a scene involving porn megastar Ben Dover.

Update: Paper Work's a Bitch

26th March 2010. Based on article from

The distributors hit a setback after a mistake over the certificate for Killer Bitch. It was this week given an uncut 18 rating by the BBFC after being submitted under the different name Killer Babe .

Film-makers have been told it must be resubmitted before release.

Update: Babe Becomes a Bitch

17th April 2010. From

The film was resubmitted and passed 18 uncut again but this time with the title Killer Bitch


16th March   

Update: Cinema Chain Smoking...

Nutter researchers think they can undermine the credibility of film classification to suit their own agenda
Link Here
Full story: Adult Rating for Smoking...Anti-smoking lobby for 18 for smoking in films

  Don't smoke kids.
Smoking addles the brain and
you may turn into a barmy researcher

The analysis of hundreds of films released in the past decade found that young Britons see more cigarette use in movies than their US counterparts because the UK censors judge more films to be family friendly.

Researchers warn that the more smoking adolescents witness onscreen, the more their chances of taking up the habit increases, with those who see the most tobacco use about three times more likely to start smoking than those who watch the least.

The study, compiled by Dr Christopher Millett of Imperial College London and Professor Stanton Glantz of California University, advocated an overhaul of the ratings system: Awarding an 18 rating to films that contain smoking would create an economic incentive for motion picture producers to simply leave smoking out of films developed for the youth market .

The researchers assessed the number of onscreen smoking or tobacco occurrences in 572 top grossing films in the UK between 2001 and 2006, including 546 screened in the United States, plus 26 high-earning films released only in the UK. They then divided the total box office earnings of each film by the year's average ticket price to calculate the estimated number of tobacco impressions delivered to audiences for each film.

Among the films assessed, over two thirds featured tobacco. Of these more than nine out of ten were classified as suitable for adolescents (15 or 12A) under the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) system.

The study, which will be published in Tobacco Control, found that in all, 5.07 billion tobacco impressions were delivered to UK cinema-going audiences during the period, of which 4.49 billion were delivered in 15 and 12A rated films. Because 79% of the films rated only for adults in the US (R) were classified as suitable for young people in the UK young Britons were exposed to 28% more smoking impressions in 15 or 12A rated movies than their US peers.

Dr Millett said: The decision to classify a film as appropriate for youths clearly has economic benefits for the film industry. A film classification policy that keeps on-screen smoking out of films rated suitable for youths … would reduce this exposure for people under 18 years of age and probably lead to a substantial reduction in youth smoking.

However, Sue Clark, spokeswoman for the BBFC, said imposing an 18 rating on films which feature scenes of smoking is not going to happen .

She said: Sometimes smoking is included in a film for reasons of historical accuracy. The only time we would consider stepping in is if we felt a film was actively promoting smoking. But I have never seen a film that did that.


11th March   

Update: Nutter Bait...

BBFC pass Michael Winterbottom's The Killer Inside Me as 18 uncut
Link Here

The BBFC have passed the eagerly awaited Michael Winterbottom film as 18 uncut.

No doubt the likes of the Daily Mail will be contributing further to the films publicity.

Anyway the BBFC kindly explained their decision as follows:

The Killer Inside Me is an adaptation of Jim Thompson's noir crime novel of the same name about a psychopathic small town Sheriff. It was passed 18 for very strong violence, sadomasochistic sex scenes and child abuse.

The film features several scenes of very strong violence. These include sadistic killings and beatings, with some focus on female victims' fear and terror (for example sight of a woman urinating after being beaten). There is some focus on the infliction of pain and injury , including a long sequence featuring a strong beating to a female character's face. This is shown from the perpetrator's point of view. There are also some strong bloody shootings.

There are scenes of sexual violence and threat, including a discreet child rape scene, and several shots of strong sadomasochistic sexual activity and violence. There is some focus on the aftermath of such activity, with focus on female characters with bruises and welts and cigarette burns, including black and white photographs of a bruised woman in a sexual pose. There are scenes suggesting child abuse including sight, from a child's point of view, of a female character with bruised and welted buttocks as she invites him to punch and hurt her.

In line with the consistent findings of the BBFC's public consultations and the Human Rights Act 1998, at 18 the BBFC's Guideline concerns will not normally override the principle that adults should be free to choose their own entertainment within the law. Although several scenes are undoubtedly very strong and impactful, with the potential to cause offence to some viewers, the clear generic context (a film noir) and presentation of complicated and disturbing ideas was permissible at 18 . No material was found to be in breach of the criminal law, or created through the commission of a criminal offence. Although there are portrayals of strong sexual and sadistic violence and sadomasochist sexual behaviour, the scenes in question do not eroticise or endorse sexual assault or pose a credible harm risk to viewers of 18 and over.

The Killer Inside Me also includes some strong sex scenes, some strong bloody detail after beatings and shootings and scenes of threat as characters are in danger. There are also brief references to suicide, although these lack any detail or novel information.


5th March   

Comment: Censored by BBFC Fees...

Open Letter calling for an 'Independent Industry Of British Film'
Link Here

Dear Sir/Madam,

My name is Colin Warhurst, and I am an independent film-maker from the North West, and the purpose of this open email is to stress the word independent. I apologise for its length, but this is a big issue that requires all of the facts. Today, affordable digital technology allows individuals or organisations to in affect, become virtually fully functional film studios. A camera, a computer and an idea are all that is needed to start making films. The realistic possibility of normal people, without funding or backing from agencies, of achieving this micro-studio setup and making their own feature films was virtually non-existent even up to 10 years ago due to technology.

What this means is that the film landscape going into the early 21st century is radically and fundamentally different to what has gone before. It is also important to note that this You Tube generation cannot be judged on the merits of virals, Internet celebrities and shaky spontaneous video often found on such video content sites. Yes, the quality varies massively, but the explosion in creativity on sites such as this should provide compelling evidence as to the potential talent and creativity out there, and of these millions of videos and ideas, a proportion of us go further, treating our work with an added level of ambition, professionalism, passion and commitment in order to go beyond simple viral film-making and into the creation of proper Film. To cut to the chase, I am one of these film-makers, and at great personal effort and expense, became one of the pioneers in what has been unofficially dubbed the North West New Wave. I Co-Directed and Produced an entirely independent feature film of our own creation entitled Mancattan . The film was made for under £600 of our own funds, and took two years to complete.

Now, as an independent artist, and as a business-person wishing to generate money within, or to bring into the UK, but with no further funds available as an independent film-maker, I ask one simple question.

How can I sell my film in the UK, legally?

The sword of Damocles in the shape of the horribly outdated Video Recordings Act 1984 and the massively high (for independents such as myself) charges for BBFC certification are effectively censoring, or killing dead, films and film-makers such as myself. I cannot, and will not, ever be able to afford the approximate cost of £1000 to have Mancattan rated. So how can I sell my film if I can't afford the rating? I believe Lord McIntosh most recently summarised the act as follows; The Video Recordings Act was nasty; it was introduced as a Private Member's Bill by Lord Nugent of Guildford. In effect, it applied the rules of a public cinema or public display to people's video recordings in their own homes. In other words, it created censorship in individuals' homes where no censorship had existed before, and it made a difference between what you have on your video recording machine and what is on your bookshelves. Douglas Houghton, Hugh Jenkins, and I thought that that was deplorable and I still think that it is utterly deplorable.

Some MPs when asked this question have suggested that there are completion funds, competitions, bursaries and other sources of funding which must be fought or found in order to accomplish the raising of the capitol for this purpose. This is not realistic or of assistance to the New Wave of self-made digital British film-makers such as myself. Bodies such as the UK Film Council are not in existence to help independents; their funds and schemes are in no position, and never have been, to help a film-maker such as myself.

Any other art or creative medium does not have these rules of censorship in place. Imagine the Orwellian state we would live in if every painting, piece of poetry, song, music performance and text put to paper had to be certified. We would describe such a world as dystopian and unrealistic, yet that is the creative state a British film-maker lives in. On some level, despite the assertion of Lord Davies of Oldham who makes the opposite statement without evidence or backup, the censorship on film contravenes the European Convention On Human Rights.

So, even though we know the answer, I'll re-phrase my question bearing all of this in mind.

Why can't I sell my film legally in the UK directly to consenting adults only, directly to our (over 18) customers via credit card, therefore staying out of larger retail stores and the public domain outside of our own websites. The BBFC can still do it's job, and UK film-makers can feel welcome, encouraged and free to create ideas, and business, at home. We would have a viable, profit making independent UK film scene, which develops and grows talent in the UK, allows film-makers to pay their crews, actors and contributors via profit shares, and leaves unthreatened the larger real film industry currently dominated by foreign films (American films do count as foreign films remember) in our UK screens which currently offer no protected ring-fencing for British films.

In other words, an Independent Film Scene in Britain would not pose a threat to the established British Film Industry and would instead create an internationally respected and culturally invaluable Industry Of British Films. Independent film-makers may not necessarily or realistically want an audience of millions, or even thousands, where a few hundred would suffice; if we sold even one hundred of our DVDs to our fans at £10 each, many of us could cover the budgets for our entire film. Ironically, that £1000 could then be spent on a BBFC rating. We need something to break this chicken-egg, carrot-stick deadlock. Could, or should, the BBFC offer low/no-budget film-makers a rate now, pay us back later scheme, perhaps at a higher rate. So the first one hundred DVD's sold cover the BBFC granting a rating in lieu, any funds after that then go to the film-maker. The BBFC is not helping us in any way, and worryingly, have the monopoly on certification; where else can we go? Could an alternative to the BBFC and voluntarily ran body for independent film-makers be created, who have Government trust and backing, but who rate films at significantly lower costs for direct-sale only? There are many options, and we want to pursue any ideas until something works.

We know the VRA and BBFC are there to protect us, and younger people on the whole, from obscene content; and this where the crux of the change since 1984 occurs. Back then, the majority of indie film-makers may have been purveyors of dodgy horror, porn and other bad things. In 2010, you are tarnishing every potential film and film-maker with the same brush. The VRA assumes my content is of a dubious and obscene nature, and surely is overkill when the obscene publications act would protect the public and any bad film-makers taking advantage of the independent film scene and new rules that we would like to see come into place. I find it offensive that we are all presumed to be working and making films in the world of violence and pornography, and cast out of being able to express ourselves via the medium of film just in case.

Mancattan isn't a horror film, or porn movie. It is a 90 minute rom-com, part of which was filmed in New York. I would love to sell you a copy to show you it is harmless, but I can't. I could sell it in the United States.

Please, if any constructive, positive and genuinely empowering options for all the other Mancattans out there can be found, then please help us. I am not the first self-made UK feature film maker stuck in this position, and I won't be the last. There are hundreds of good, safe-for-viewing and quality films sat on the shelf that have been made with blood sweat and tears. There are hundreds more following in their wake.

A film, today? A camera, a computer and an idea. A new Industry Of British Films? A few cameras, a few computers, and a few ideas... and some much needed help from YOU.

Many thanks for your time, I welcome your thoughts, replies and ideas. Sincerely

Colin Warhurst (A would-be British Film-maker)


15th February   

Update: Back in Business...

BBFC notification of the re-enactment of the Video Recordings Act
Link Here

The BBFC have updated their website re the the re-enactment of the Video Recordings Act:

On 21 January 2010, the Video Recordings Bill received Royal Assent. This Bill corrects a procedural error that meant the Video Recordings Act 1984 (VRA) was not enforceable against individuals in UK courts. It repeals and revives the Video Recordings Act 1984 (VRA), restoring the public protection provided by a robust video classification system. It sets out the statutory requirement for videos, DVDs and some video games to be classified and age rated by the British Board of Film Classification.

The voluntary classification scheme the BBFC has been running since the discovery of the VRA's lack of enforceability ends with immediate effect. Henceforth, all classification certificates issued by the BBFC will be pursuant to the VRA.

The BBFC will issue replacement certificates in accordance with the VRA for all those works for which it issued certificates under the voluntary scheme between 1 September 2009 and 21 January 2010. So no customer need withdraw from sale any work for which a voluntary certificate was issued.

All classification certificates issued by the BBFC in accordance with the VRA since 1984 are valid, and remain so following Royal Assent of the Video Recordings Bill. Any video recording containing an unclassified video work which has been released in the interim period will need to be withdrawn from sale now the new Act is in force, unless the work can claim exemption.

The BBFC would like to thank its customers for complying with the provisions of the VRA by continuing to submit works to the BBFC for classification on a voluntary and best practice basis during the period of the VRA's unenforceability.


14th February   

Update: Digital Economy Bill...

Video Recordings Act amendments discussed in Lords Committee
Link Here
Full story: Amending the VRA...Digital Economy Bill and video censorship

The Digital Economy Bill was discussed in Lords Committee on 8th February 2010.

A long list of amendments were discussed and withdrawn. Here is a brief summery of these.

Exemptions: Amendment 246 Moved by Lord De Mauley

This was an unneeded suggestion to add to the list of material that would exempt a video game from the need for classification. In reality the list in the original bill is sufficient, but this issue has become something of a band wagon issue having received press attention. So a fair few lords lined up to add their name to the cause including Baroness Howe of Idlicote, The Lord Bishop of Manchester and Lord Addington.

Government Censorship Power: Amendment 247 Moved by Lord De Mauley

Rightfully questioned the powers being given to the Secretary of State in the name of future proofing games censorship.

BBFC as R18 Experts: Amendment 248 Moved by Lord De Mauley

This amendment relates to the BBFC retaining powers to classify games containing R18 pornography. It also questioned whether both the VSC and the BBFC should duplicate the work of differentiating between 18 and R18 material. The BBFC seem to be held as the 'experts' in identifying porn.

At least the debate seemed to assume that  R18 is here to stay and no seemed to be taking the opportunity of the bill to re-ban porn.

Hybrids: Amendment 250 Moved by Lord Howard of Rising Also amendment 251 Moved by Baroness Howe of Idlicote

These amendments raised the dual censor issue of what to do with hybrid media, ie games containing video or DVDs containing games etc

Duty to promote online safety: amendment 251A Moved by Baroness Howe of Idlicote

(1) It shall be the duty of internet service providers and mobile phone operators to take such steps, and to enter into such arrangements-

(a) to bring about, or to encourage others to bring about, a better public understanding of online safety;
(b) to provide prominent, easily accessible and clear information on filtering options of public electronic communication services for the purposes of online safety-

(i) at the time of purchase of the service; and
(ii) to make such information available for the duration of the contract.

(2) In this section online safety means safe, responsible use of the internet and other communication devices by children and young people.

Baroness Howe of Idlicote said she was speaking for children's charity CARE and wanted to make the availability of parental control facilities to be made more prominent. Again there were lords queuing up support this amendment. The government pointed out that in reality it is far too complex a question for a sentence to be attached to this bill and that the issues are being widely discussed for future measures.

Age Verification Schemes: amendment 251A Moved by Baroness Howe of Idlicote

Additional protection from harmful material through online on-demand programme services using age verification scheme

For section 368E(2) of the Communication Act 2003 (harmful material), substitute-

(2) An online on-demand programme service must not contain any material which might seriously impair the physical, mental or moral development of persons under the age of eighteen.

(3) If an online on-demand programme service contains the following material, the material must only be made available using a clearly identifiable and robust age verification scheme to determine that the person purchasing or otherwise obtaining access to the material is not under eighteen-

(a) material which might seriously impair the physical, mental or moral development of persons under the age of eighteen;

(b) material which is contained in a video work for which a classification certificate has been issued containing the statements mentioned in section 7(2)(c) of the Video Recordings Act 1984 (recordings to be supplied only in licensed sex shops);

(c) material which falls within subsection (4) unless it is contained in a video work for which a classification certificate other than one containing the statements mentioned in section 7(2)(c) of the Video Recordings Act 1984 (recordings to be supplied only in licensed sex shops) has been issued.

(4) Material falls within this subsection if it is pornographic and portrays, in an explicit and realistic way, any of the following-

(a) an act of penetration of the vagina or anus of a person with a part of a person's body or anything else;
(b) the performance by a person of an act of intercourse or oral sex;
(c) the performance by a person or an act of intercourse or oral sex with an animal;
(d) an act of masturbation;
(e) an act of ejaculation;
(f) human genital organs or human urinary or excretory functions; or
(g) an act of restraint or violence which is associated with sexual activity.

(5) In this section-

classification certificate and video work have the same meaning as in the Video Recordings Act 1984;

pornographic has the same meaning as in section 63 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 (possession of extreme pornographic images).

Perhaps the easiest practical attack on the availability of porn and lords drew parallels with the age controls inherent in physical R18s being limited to sex shops.

Lord Davies of Oldham for the Government said: My Lords, I am happy to reassure the noble Baroness, Lady Howe, and the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Manchester on these points, but I cannot accept the amendment because we have a law in place that achieves its effect. Section 368E(2) of the Communications Act was introduced by the Audiovisual Media Services Regulations 2009 and requires that, if an on-demand programme service contains material which might cause serious impairment to children or young people, it should only be shown in a way that would ensure that they do not usually see it or hear it. The regulations are in response to a European Union directive that applies to all on-demand programme services all the time.

I accept entirely the anxieties of the noble Baroness about these issues, which prompted her to table the amendment, but the question is whether we should go further than the present regulations. We are in discussion about this with Ofcom and the Association for Television On-Demand, the leading video-on-demand industry body to make sure that any moves we make are the right ones to ensure that children are adequately protected. If it turns out on reflection that it is necessary for the Government to take action, we can introduce further regulations under the same provision as those in force at present, to strengthen and reinforce the protection. I reassure the noble Baroness that she has raised an important topic but her amendment is not necessary.

Fees: Amendment 254 Moved by Lord Howard of Rising

This amendment questioned whether the government were right to withdraw from powers to control censorship fees.

Content Advice: Amendment 255ZA Moved by Lord Howard of Rising

This amendment discussed exactly how mandatory content advice labelling should be. Very mandatory or just a bit mandatory.


13th February   

Digital Economy Bill...

Changes to the Video Recordings Act being debated in Parliament
Link Here
Full story: Amending the VRA...Digital Economy Bill and video censorship

The Digital Economy Bill has started its progress in Parliament starting in the House of Lords. It has already been discussed in committee and will next be heard at the Report Stage in the Lords on the 1st March 2010.

There are several sections of interest to Melon Farmers:

  • Online infringement of copyright

    This includes open ended and general powers for the government to censor the internet in the name of copyright protection
  • Powers in relation to internet domain registries
    Setting up another tool for the government censorship of the internet
  • Video recordings Act

The Government are making the following basic changes

  • This section separates out video censorship into two sections, video games censorship (PEGI ratings will be implemented by the Video Standards Council) and video works censorship (as implemented by the BBFC).
  • The current exemptions from mandatory games classification will be reduced so that anything that would be rated 12 or upwards will now be subject to mandatory vetting by the games censors.
  • The government seem to be adding a new power for the censors to revoke as well issue certificates
  • People submitting video works are to be forced to agree to a 'code of practice' re the labelling of their products.
  • There's also added complex wording targeting more complex mixtures of media
  • And of course the government have added the power to change the Video Recordings Act at any time in the future via an order of the secretary of state

40 Classification of video games etc

(1) Section 2 of the Video Recordings Act 1984 (exempted video works) is amended as follows.

(2) In subsection (1)—

(a) after video work insert other than a video game,
(b) after paragraph (a) insert or, and
(c) omit paragraph (c) (and the word or before it).

(3) After that subsection insert—

(1A) Subject to subsection (2) or (3) below, a video game is for the purposes of this Act an exempted work if—

(a) it is, taken as a whole, designed to inform, educate or instruct;
(b) it is, taken as a whole, concerned with sport, religion or music; or
(c) it satisfies one or more of the conditions in section 2A.

(4) After section 2 of that Act insert—

2A Conditions relating to video games

(1) The conditions referred to in section 2(1A)(c) are as follows.

(2) The first condition is that the video game does not include any of the following—

(a) depictions of violence towards human or animal characters, whether or not the violence looks realistic and whether or not the violence results in obvious harm,
(b) depictions of violence towards other characters where the violence looks realistic,
(c) depictions of criminal activity that are likely, to any extent, to stimulate or encourage the commission of offences,
(d) depictions of activities involving illegal drugs or the misuse of drugs,
(e) words or images that are likely, to any extent, to stimulate or encourage the use of alcohol or tobacco,
(f) words or images that are intended to convey a sexual message,
(g) swearing, or
(h) words or images that are intended or likely, to any extent, to cause offence, whether on the grounds of race, gender, disability, religion or belief or sexual orientation or otherwise.

(3) In subsection (2) human or animal character means a character that is, or whose appearance is similar to that of—

(a) a human being, or
(b) an animal that exists or has existed in real life, but does not include a simple stick character or any equally basic representation of a human being or animal.

(4) The second condition is that the designated authority, or a person nominated by the designated authority for the purposes of this section, has confirmed in writing that the video game is suitable for viewing by persons under the age of 12.

(5) The Secretary of State may by regulations amend this section—

(a) by amending the first condition, or
(b) by adding a further condition (or by amending or removing such a condition).
(6) Regulations under this section may make provision by reference to documents produced by the designated authority.

(5) In section 3 of that Act (exempted supplies), after subsection (8) insert—

(8A) The supply of a video recording in the form of a machine of a type designed primarily for use in an amusement arcade is an exempted supply unless the video game (or, if more than one, any of the video games) that it contains—

(a) depicts, to any significant extent, anything falling within section 2(2)(a), (b), (c) or (d) or (3), or
(b) is likely to any significant extent to stimulate or encourage anything falling within section 2(2)(a) or, in the case of anything falling within section 2(2)(b), is likely to any extent to do so. The supply of any other video recording is an exempted supply if the recording is supplied for the purpose only of its use in connection with a supply that is an exempted supply under subsection (8A).

(6) At the end of that section insert—

(13) The Secretary of State may by regulations amend this section and the regulations may, in particular—

(a) add a case in which the supply of a video recording is an exempted supply for the purposes of this Act, or
(b) repeal a provision of this section.

41 Designated authority for video games etc

(1) After section 4 of the Video Recordings Act 1984 insert—

4ZA Designated authorities for video games and other video works

(1) The power to designate a person by notice under section 4 includes power to designate different persons—

(a) as the authority responsible for making arrangements in respect of video games (the video games authority), and
(b) as the authority responsible for making arrangements in respect of other video works (the video works authority).

(2) Where there are two designated authorities, references in this Act to the designated authority, in relation to a video work, are references to the designated authority responsible for making arrangements in respect of the video work, taking account of any allocation in force under section 4ZB.

4ZB Designated authorities: allocation of responsibility for video games

(1) Where there are two designated authorities, the video games authority may, with the consent of the video works authority, allocate to that authority responsibility—

(a) for a class of video games, or
(b) for video games, or a class of video games, when (and only when) they are contained in a video recording that is described in the allocation (whether by reference to its contents, to the manner in which it is, or is to be, supplied or otherwise).

(2) If an allocation is in force—

(a) the video works authority is responsible for making arrangements under this Act in respect of the allocated video games, and
(b) the video games authority ceases to be responsible for making such arrangements.

(3) An allocation—

(a) must be made by a notice, and
(b) may be withdrawn at any time by a notice given by the video games authority with the consent of the video works authority.

(4) When making or withdrawing an allocation under this section, the video games authority must have regard to any guidance issued by the Secretary of State.

(5) A notice under this section must be—

(a) sent to the Secretary of State, and
(b) published in such manner as the video games authority considers appropriate.

(6) A question as to which designated authority is responsible for making arrangements in respect of a video game may be conclusively determined by the video games authority.

4ZC Designated authorities: video works included in video games

(1) The video games authority may make such arrangements in respect of video works included in video games as it considers are necessary for the purposes of fulfilling its responsibilities in respect of video games.

(2) Where there are two designated authorities, the arrangements made by the video games authority under section 4 must, to the extent that the video games authority considers appropriate, include either or both of the following—

(a) arrangements for having regard to any classification certificate issued by the video works authority in respect of a video work included in a video game;
(b) arrangements for obtaining and having regard to a determination by the video works authority as to the suitability of all or part of a video work included in a video game.

(3) For the purpose of determining the extent to which arrangements described in subsection (2)(a) or (b) are appropriate, the video games authority must—

(a) consult the video works authority, and
(b) have regard to any guidance issued by the Secretary of State.

(4) In this section, suitability means suitability for the issue of a classification certificate or suitability for the issue of a classification certificate of a particular description.

(2) Schedule 1 (which contains further amendments of the Video Recordings Act 1984) has effect.

Schedule 1 Classification of video games etc: supplementary provision

1 The Video Recordings Act 1984 is amended as follows.


(1) Section 4 (authority to determine suitability of video works for classification) is amended as follows.

(2) In subsection (1)(b)—

(a) in sub-paragraph (i), after issue insert or revocation, and
(b) in sub-paragraph (ii), after issuing insert and revoking.

(3) After subsection (1B) insert—

(1C) The arrangements made under this section may require a person requesting a classification certificate for a video work to agree to comply with a code of practice, which may, in particular, include provision relating to the labelling of video recordings.

(4) After subsection (3) insert—

(3A) The Secretary of State must not make a designation under this section unless satisfied that adequate arrangements will be made for taking account of public opinion in the United Kingdom.

(5) For subsection (5) substitute—

(5) No fee is recoverable by, or in accordance with arrangements made by, the designated authority in connection with a determination in respect of a video work or the issue of a classification certificate unless the designated authority has consulted the Secretary of State about such fees.

(6) Omit subsection (6).

(7) After that subsection insert—

(6A) When making arrangements under this section, the designated authority must have regard to any guidance issued by the Secretary of State.

(6B) The Secretary of State may not issue guidance about the matters to be taken into account when determining the suitability of a video work for the issue of a classification certificate or a classification certificate of a particular description.

(8) In subsection (8)—

(a) after Act insert—

(a) , and

(b) at the end insert , and

(b) references to the designated authority, in relation to a  classification certificate, are references to the person or persons designated under this section when the certificate is issued, (but see also section 4ZA(2)).

3 In section 7 (classification certificates), at the end insert—

(3) For the purposes of this Act, a video work is not a video work in respect of which a classification certificate has been issued if every classification certificate issued in respect of the video work has been revoked.

4 After that section insert—

7A Classification certificates for particular video recordings

(1) A classification certificate issued in respect of a video work may be issued so as to have effect only for the purposes of a video recording that is described in the certificate (whether by reference to its contents, to the manner in which it is, or is to be, supplied or otherwise).

(2) For the purposes of this Act, a video recording contains a video work in respect of which a classification certificate has been issued if (and only if) a classification certificate that has been issued in respect of the video work has effect for the purposes of the video recording.

5 In section 8 (requirements as to labelling etc), omit subsections (2) and (3).


(1) Section 11 (supplying video recording of classified work in breach of classification) is amended as follows.

(2) In subsection (1)—

(a) for containing substitute , or no video recording described in the certificate, that contains,
(b) for a video recording containing that work substitute such a video recording, and
(c) after unless insert—

(a) the video work is an exempted work, or
(b) .

(3) In subsection (2), after paragraph (b) (but before or) insert—

(ba) that the accused believed on reasonable grounds that the video work concerned or, if the video recording contained more than one work to which the charge relates, each of those works was an exempted work,.


(1) Section 12 (certain video recordings only to be supplied in licensed sex shops) is amended as follows.

(2) In subsections (1) and (3)—

(a) for containing substitute , or no video recording described in the certificate, that contains, and
(b) for a video recording containing the work substitute such a video recording.

(3) In subsection (6)—

(a) for containing substitute , or no video recording described in the certificate, that contains, and
(b) for a video recording containing that work substitute such a video recording.


(1) Section 13 (supplying video recording not complying with requirements as to labels etc) is amended as follows.

(2) In subsection (1), after unless insert—

(a) the video work is an exempted work, or
(b) .

(3) In subsection (2), before paragraph (a) insert—

(za) believed on reasonable grounds that the video work concerned or, if the video recording contained more than one work to which the charge relates, each of those works was an exempted work,.


(1) Section 14 (supplying video recording containing false indication as to classification) is amended as follows.

(2) In subsection (1), after unless insert—

(a) the video work is an exempted work, or
(b) .

(3) In subsection (2)(a), after sub-paragraph (i) (but before or) insert—

(ia) that the video work concerned or, if the video recording contained more than one work to which the charge relates, each of those works was an exempted work,.

(4) In subsection (3)—

(a) after unless insert—

(a) the video work is an exempted work, or
(b) .

(5) In subsection (4)(a), before sub-paragraph (i) insert—

(ai) that the video work concerned or, if the video recording contained more than one work to which the charge relates, each of those works was an exempted work,.


(1) Section 22 (other interpretation) is amended as follows.

(2) In subsection (1), at the end insert—

video games authority and video works authority have the meaning given in section 4ZA.

(3) In subsection (2), after Act insert (and subject to regulations under subsection (2A)).

(4) After subsection (2) insert—

(2A) The Secretary of State may by regulations make provision about the circumstances in which, for the purposes of this Act, a video recording does or does not contain a video work.

11 After section 22 insert—

22A Regulations

(1) Regulations under this Act are to be made by statutory instrument.

(2) Every power of the Secretary of State to make regulations under this Act includes—

(a) power to make different provision for different purposes, and
(b) power to make transitional or saving provision.

(3) A statutory instrument containing regulations under section 2A or 3 may not be made unless a draft of the instrument has been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, each House of Parliament.

(4) Any other statutory instrument containing regulations under this Act is subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.

12 Until such time as section 2A of the Video Recordings Act 1984 comes into force, section 22A(3) of that Act has effect as if the words 2A or were omitted.


17th January   

Update: A Fetish for Censorship...

The Notorious Bettie Page by Mary Harron
Link Here

The Notorious Bettie Page (2005) is a smart, funny and engaging look at the life of one of the first pin-up sensations, the titular Ms Page. Well acted and flawlessly directed (Harron creates a perfect 50's woman's film feel and mixes black and white and colour without drawing attention to it), the film tells it's story in a matter of fact way that mirrors Page's own outlook and delivers an interesting study of a society on the brink of change.

See article from

Some time ago I wrote about Mary Harron's fantastic film The Notorious Bettie Page … well, to be honest, I spent most of the time having a moan about the rather harsh 18 cert. bestowed upon the film by the BBFC. Anyway, in true disgusted of Tunbridge Wells style I emailed the BBFC the following…

Having recently viewed The Notorious Bettie Page (Mary Harron, 2005) I was somewhat perplexed by the 18 rating. Looking on the BBFC website the only comment I can see regarding the rating is contains sexual fetish theme .

Considering that the Irish Film Classification Office (IFCO) have given the film a 15 rating ('15A in cinemas) due to moderate violence, sex/nudity and language (The further information on their website notes just one expletive and their guidelines for the 15A rating state that mild/moderate sexual activity/nudity is acceptable, particularly when portrayed positively .) I was wondering if you had any more information on the decision and the reasoning behind the 18 rating?

…and here is the BBFC reply…

Our classification decisions are carefully considered and made in line with published Guidelines and the available research evidence...

Our Guidelines for sex at 15 state that: "Sexual activity may be portrayed but without strong detail. There may be strong verbal references to sexual behaviour". It was recognised that THE NOTORIOUS BETTIE PAGE is an intelligent and rather sweet-natured film which stays within our '15' criteria on a number of issues (eg. nudity and sex). However, it was ultimately judged that placing a work that dealt with S&M and other fetish activities at '15' would confound public expectations of the our classifications. Although THE NOTORIOUS BETTIE PAGE is not a 'sex work' , its detail of fetish activity just pushed this work to the 18 category. At '18' our Guidelines state that the BBFC "will not normally override the wish that adults should be free to chose their own entertainment, within the law."

Chief Assistant (Policy)

…which seems to suggest that no matter what the 'content' the subject matter is all that matters and some things, especially country matters , are just plain taboo.


13th January   

Update: Exempt from Reason...

Andrew Dismore sponsors Video Recordings (Exempt from Classification) Bill
Link Here
Full story: VRA Exempt...Video Recordings (Exemption from Classification) Bill

Andrew Dismore (Hendon) (Lab):

I beg to move, that leave be given to introduce a Bill to extend the criteria under which music and sports video works and documentaries lose their exemption from classification.

Although we passed-or perhaps I should say re-passed-the Video Recordings Bill last week, for technical reasons of urgency it was not practical to propose amendments at that stage. However, some small but highly significant amendments are needed to ensure a more robust regime for child protection. As chair of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, I am an ardent supporter of the right to free speech and expression, but I acknowledge the need for a system of regulation that protects children from harmful content in film, videos and DVDs.

At the current time, we have a very effective system of classification. The British Board of Film Classification undertakes extensive research into public opinion about what is acceptable content. The BBFC also takes account of research evidence and the advice of psychologists, health care professionals and the police, among others, to produce guidelines, which are updated every four years, that ensure that the content that reaches children in the UK legally in the form of film, DVDs and videos is of an age-appropriate nature and is not harmful to them.

However, there are gaps in the current regime covering videos and DVDs under the Video Recordings Act 1984-the VRA-and that is what my Bill aims to address. The VRA permits a number of exemptions to the classification regime. Currently they relate not only to video games but to other video works such as music and sports videos. When the Act was passed in 1984, the assumption was that such works were unlikely to cause any concern. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport has recognised that the regime for video games needs to be updated, and the Digital Economy Bill, currently in the other place, is intended to do so. As an aside, it is important to note that in doing so it should in no way undermine the classification regime for linear-non-interactive-material by confusing the responsibilities of the BBFC and those of the Video Standards Council, which is intended to be the statutory authority for classifying video games.

Except in relation to video games, exemptions are unfortunately not addressed in the Digital Economy Bill. That is a missed opportunity and the reason why I have chosen to bring forward my Bill, which would extend the criteria under section 2 of the VRA to result in specified video works losing exemption from classification. At present, exemption can be claimed for video works such as music and sports videos, which can be very popular with children. Those videos can then be sold to children perfectly legally, even if they contain material that is potentially harmful. My Bill is not intended to extend the VRA to all such exempted works, only to those that contain content that is potentially harmful, such as graphic violence, sexual content falling 12 Jan 2010 : Column 561 short of actual sexual activity, imitable dangerous behaviour and drug use. Harmless video works of football matches or artists from the The X Factor would remain exempt.

I have seen some of the less benign sport and music videos myself. For example, the Ultimate Fighting Championship's UFC Best of 2007 is a combat video featuring martial arts and other fighting techniques. It is available on the high street to any child because its distributor has, quite legally, claimed exemption from BBFC classification under the VRA. It therefore carries no age rating or consumer advice. It contains close-up images of bloody and sustained head blows, which are replayed in slow motion from every conceivable angle to ensure that the best possible view is given of the moments of impact.

Another work that I have seen is Motley Cre's Greatest Video Hits , which features topless lap dancing and a George W. Bush lookalike in a limousine with a prostitute. The packaging carries an E for exempt rating. Gorgoroth's Ad Majorem Sathanas Gloriam features bloody bodies being crucified and a sheep's head on a spike. The American band Slipknot is hugely popular with children, some as young as 10, as well as with teenagers. As expected from the band's reputation, its 10th anniversary DVD features strong content designed to offend parents. Among the most concerning images are those of the consequences of self-mutilation carried out by two teenage girls who have carved the name Slipknot into their arm and torso respectively, yet the video carries a letter E in a green triangle indicating that it is exempt from VRA classification.

Those are all works that parents could and should legitimately expect to be regulated, yet under the current legislation they can all be sold legally without any age restriction. Indeed, it is worth noting that some of that material is rated and age-restricted in other countries. For example, the German film classification body rated the Slipknot DVD as suitable only for those aged 16 and above and the Gorgoroth DVD as suitable only for adults.

Trading standards officers would welcome the power to prosecute the supply of such unclassified works, but believe that the current legislation exempts them because, for example, they do not contain gross violence, which is a very high threshold, or actual sexual activity. Local Authorities Co-ordinators of Regulatory Services, which represents local authorities on this matter, and the BBFC both support my Bill's minor amendments to section 2 of the VRA in order to broaden the criteria that determine when a video work loses its exemption. Such amendments would enable law enforcement agencies to prosecute the supply of video works that are currently exempted, to protect children from potentially harmful media content.

I understand that the Government believe that the enforcement authorities can already take such action. However, the view of those who actually have that responsibility is that they cannot, because of the very high bar set by the VRA in order to lose an exemption. For example, had the Slipknot DVD shown the two girls actually in the process of mutilating themselves with a sharp blade, that may well have constituted gross violence under the VRA, but showing the scars after the event almost certainly does not constitute violence sufficient to lose exemption from classification.

Many responsible members of the home entertainment industry voluntarily seek classification certificates for exempted video works that contain such potentially harmful material. Members of the British Video Association-the BVA-do so even though they are not legally obliged so to do. Their actions in this regard are to be commended. I understand that BVA members support amendments to the Video Recordings Act that would make it a legal obligation on distributors to have potentially harmful material classified, as proposed in my Bill, but there are distributors who do not take the same responsible attitude. That lack of a level playing field serves only to add to consumer confusion.

A parent looking through a shelf of music or fighting videos, some of which are rated 15 or 18, but some of which are marked E for exempt, is likely reasonably to draw the conclusion that the E video is suitable for younger children. Otherwise, the parents would assume, surely it would have been classified. Yet often, the content of E for exempt videos is virtually identical to or worse than that of an age-restricted product. I would therefore like to urge my hon. Friend the Minister to support this Bill.

To conclude, this Bill is aimed at modernising the VRA and improving consumer-and most particularly-parental empowerment, to protect their vulnerable children from harmful video material. I commend this Bill to the House.

Question put and agreed to.

Ordered, that Mr. Andrew Dismore, Mike Gapes, Rob Marris, Mr. Virendra Sharma, Mr. Edward Timpson, John Austin, Ms Karen Buck, Clive Efford, Mr. John Whittingdale, Judy Mallaber and Keith Vaz present the Bill.

Mr. Andrew Dismore accordingly presented the Bill.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 26 February and to be printed.


10th January   

Offsite: Sing a Song of Censorship...

Andrew Dismore MP to propose extending VRA to sports and music DVDs
Link Here
Full story: VRA Exempt...Video Recordings (Exemption from Classification) Bill

Sport or music videos containing cage-fighting, nudity and self-mutilation are currently available to buy without a censorship certificate.

MP Andrew Dismore will this week push to amend the current censorship law which allows these films to be exempted from the usual classification system, under the House of Commons' 10-Minute Rule.

At present videos and DVDs primarily concerned with sport, religion or music do not have to carry a classification.

These have included the cage-fighting DVD UFC Best of 2007 , a combat video featuring martial arts and other fighting techniques, which is available on the high street quite legally without age restrictions, having claimed exemption from classification.

It means there is no age rating or consumer advice, although it contains close-ups of bloody and sustained head blows, some of them in slow motion.

Tory Culture spokesman Jeremy Hunt last month called for the law to be redrawn to remove these exceptions.

Now Dismore is to begin this process, introducing classifications for the images of 'concern'.

A spokeswoman for the BBFC said: As the regulator, the BBFC has been concerned for some time about the content of some very popular music and sports DVDs which have claimed exemption under the Video Recordings Act but which we believe should not be exempt. We do not have any powers to require these DVDs to be submitted for classification. We believe that it is important that material which will be attractive to young audiences should be properly labelled to enable parents to know that their children are protected from inappropriate material.


5th January   

Offsite: Scone-Snarfing Crackpots at the BBFC...

Female Ejaculation - Myth Or Reality?
Link Here

Ok, bear with me here—I know a lot of you don't give much of a crap about the scone-snarfing crackpots who make, watch, and rate porn in the UK. They're prudes over there, after all, with warm beer and bad teeth, and up until just a few days ago, they wouldn't allow female ejaculation to be shown even in pornographic films. According to BlueViolet's latest San Francisco Chronicle article, the BBFC wouldn't allow even R18 certified (read: hardcore porn) films to show squirting because the expert medical advice they were going on maintained there is no such thing as female ejaculation, and therefore any depiction of a woman's ejaculation was pee porn .

Sweet jumping Christ on a pogo stick, are you serious? I've been writing for jizz rags for two years now, and this isn't the first time I've come across this kind of small-minded three-ring-circus of male-centric, pseudo-scientific jaw flapping. I've reviewed numerous films that featured Niagara-like gushers, but in the reviews I couldn't mention the truly impressive waterworks because our distribution lists in European countries would consider it urination and not legally be able to sell the magazine. I assumed these countries must be backward Medieval places like Uzbekistan or Belarus or, I dunno, fucking Poland even. But apparently my editor meant Great Fucking Britain, home of some of the greatest thinkers, universities, and sexual deviants in the world. Where men still wear wigs in court, drink tea, and consume crumpets. Unbefuckinglievable.

...Read full article

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