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BBFC reports that its music video ratings are universally popular. Parents appreciate the insight, and viewers appreciate being told which are the sexy videos worth watching

Link Here25th September 2015
Today the BBFC published research into public attitudes toward online age rating labels for music videos. The research evaluates a government-backed pilot, launched in October 2014 by the UK recorded music industry, the BBFC and digital service providers Vevo and YouTube, to test how age ratings can be applied to music videos released online in the UK, so that family audiences can make more informed viewing decisions. The research shows:
  • 70% of parents of under 12s are concerned about their children being exposed to inappropriate content in music videos
  • up to 60% of children say they have seen content in online music videos of which their parents would disapprove
  • 78% of parents value age ratings for online music videos
  • given the choice, 86% of parents would encourage/ensure their children watch online channels with clear age ratings
  • 75% of parents would like online channels to link music video age ratings to parental controls

The online music video age rating pilot saw the three major UK record companies (Sony Music UK, Universal Music UK and Warner Music UK) submit to the BBFC for age rating, any music videos for release online in the UK for which they would expect to be given at least a 12-rating (videos deemed not to contain content that would attract at least a 12 rating are not submitted*). On 18 August 2015, Government announced that the measures trialled will be made permanent for videos produced in the UK by artists who are represented by major labels. A new pilot for independent UK music labels to submit online music videos for classification is also underway.

David Austin, Assistant Director, BBFC said: "The research shows parents perceive age ratings for online music videos to be almost as important as ratings for film and DVD/Blu-rays. Parents want more nuanced guidance about the content of the music videos their children are accessing online, with BBFC age rating symbols alongside BBFCinsight content advice being the preferred form of labelling.

"Parents would like to calibrate parental controls to filter out inappropriate music video content for their children and we look forward to working with the Digital Service Providers to incorporate these findings into the way age ratings and BBFCinsight is presented on their platforms. Non-UK label artists wanting to submit music videos for an age rating and further digital service providers wishing to display them are also welcome to help broaden the coverage of age ratings for online music video content in the UK."

Geoff Taylor, Chief Executive BPI and BRIT Awards, said: "We understand the concerns that many parents have about children viewing age-inappropriate content, we have coordinated an industry response and good progress is being made. Record labels are working closely with the BBFC, YouTube and Vevo to ensure that music videos produced here in the UK display recommended age ratings when broadcast online so that families can make more informed viewing decisions. The next step will be for the digital platforms to look more closely at the introduction of parental control filters, so that parents can use the ratings to screen out content they consider unsuitable."

Nic Jones, EVP International at Vevo, said: "At Vevo we support artists and their creativity, however, we understand the importance and value that age ratings provide to parents and music fans to help inform their viewing. Clearly from the research published today, there is a desire from our audiences to see content rated which enables them to make choices about what music videos they watch. Vevo have been part of the scheme since inception, and will continue to work with the BBFC and label partners to ensure that our audiences get the best experience when on our platform. "

  Just in passing, why is the BBFC so keen on the word 'moderate'?

It is a very loaded word that implies euphemism, eg 'moderate' muslim or saying 'moderate' when you really means censor. In horse racing terms, nags that are the slowest of the slow are politely described as 'moderate'.

The BBFC use comes across as some sort of jargonistic censor speak that is far removed from natual language

he research showed the preferred format for displaying age ratings for online music videos to be the age rating plus BBFCinsight:
54% of adults selected this format as the most likely to be noticed and most helpful to see online, while 53% selected it as the easiest label to understand.

The BBFC issues either a 12, 15 or 18 rating to online music videos, in line with BBFC Classification Guidelines. The BBFC also includes bespoke content advice, called BBFC insight, which explains in more detail why an age rating has been given: for example, that scenes include sexual imagery, violence or other content deemed inappropriate for younger viewers.@ Once given an age rating, the labels pass on the rating and guidance when releasing their videos to the two digital service providers -- Vevo and YouTube, who, in turn, display it when the videos are broadcast online.

* It is estimated that around 20% of music videos released within the pilot were subject to a rating -- the large majority of music videos are unlikely to contain content that would be rated 12 or greater. @This estimate is based on a previous video catalogue audit of one of the companies taking part in the pilot.



Update: Too Much Fun...

David Cooke speaks about A Diary of a Teenage Girl and avoiding the temptation to stay forever as boss of the BBFC

Link Here10th September 2015
Full story: Diary of a Teenage Girl...BBFC under fire for an 18 rating for a teenage film



Extract: From the Diary of a Near Retirement Age Censor...

David Cooke speaks about the 18 rating for Diary of a Teenage Girl

Link Here25th August 2015
Full story: Diary of a Teenage Girl...BBFC under fire for an 18 rating for a teenage film
David Cooke, the director of the BBFC told the New Statesman that the film was classified 18 thanks mainly to its eight sex scenes, use of cocaine, LSD and marijuana, and what Cooke calls the glamorisation of drug use in the film. He added that the age gap between Minnie and Monroe, and the fact that Minnie is underage, would also have affected the decision.

He also said that the film very clearly fits into the 18 classification and wasn't a borderline case.

...Read the full article



Offsite Article: Political Correctness at the BBFC...

Link Here20th August 2015
Podcast Episode 32: Classifying Discrimination - Part 1

See article from



Oh God Please don't let the replacement by Pete Johnson...

David Cooke, Director of the BBFC, will retire on 12 March 2016 following 12 years in post.

Link Here 19th August 2015

David Cooke joined the BBFC in September 2004. Prior to this he held six government Director level posts, in the Cabinet Office, Northern Ireland Office and Home Office, working on topics such as the Northern Ireland Peace Process, devolution, asylum, criminal justice performance and broadcasting. David is also an Executive Board member of the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS).

David Cooke said:

Being Director of the BBFC is a wonderful job. It comes with superb colleagues and an endlessly fascinating subject matter. The danger is that you will outstay your welcome because you cannot bring yourself to leave. That's why I decided, some time ago, that I would retire when I was 60.

The right time for reflection on my decade in post will be when I actually go, in March next year. For now I'll simply say that I've tried, with the Presidential Team and the Council of Management, to make the BBFC more open and informative, more approachable, and above all more useful to the public at a time when the proliferation of online outlets for audio-visual content means that the need for a trusted guide in support of child protection is greater than ever.

During his tenure as Director, David Cooke has overseen the day to day running of the BBFC, and two large scale public consultation reviews of the Classification Guidelines. He also helped the BBFC adapt its services in line with technology in a number of ways, including a voluntary online regulation services for Video-on-Demand content, the introduction of a classification framework for mobile network operators, and the launch of an initiative to age rate UK online music videos.

The search for David Cooke's replacement will begin immediately via open competition.



Updated: BBFC kindly point out the sexiest music videos...

Government announces that BBFC music video ratings will be a permanent feature on YouTube

Link Here19th August 2015
Full story: BBFC Online Music Censors...Scheme for UK music publishers to get BBFC rating for videos

The Government is working with the UK music industry, BBFC and digital service providers like Vevo and YouTube to take further action to protect children from viewing inappropriate videos on the internet.

Many children have easy access to music videos online and some parents are rightly concerned that some of these contain imagery or lyrics not appropriate for a young audience.

In October 2014 a Government-backed pilot to introduce age ratings for online music videos was launched by the BBFC and BPI in conjunction with Vevo and YouTube, working with major UK music labels to introduce a new ratings system that would allow digital service providers to clearly display an easily recognisable age rating on videos posted on the web.

UK labels supply videos ahead of release to the BBFC, and then pass on the rating and guidance given by the BBFC when releasing their videos to the two digital service providers involved -- Vevo and YouTube - who display it when the videos are broadcast online.

Building on the pilot, the Government has now as part of its manifesto commitment agreed with the UK music industry and with the digital service providers that the measures trialled will be now be made permanent for videos produced in the UK by artists who are represented by major labels.

As well as working with Sony Music UK, Universal Music UK and Warner Music UK, the Government is also encouraging independent UK music labels to follow suit so that the digital service providers can display appropriate age ratings on their videos too. We can announce today that independent UK music labels will now take part in a six month pilot phase.

Joanna Shields, Minister for Internet Safety and Security, said:

Movies in the cinema and music DVDs are age rated to inform the viewer and help parents to make informed choices. We welcome this voluntary step from industry to bring internet services in line with the offline world.

Keeping children safe as they experience and enjoy all the benefits the Internet has to offer is a key priority for this Government's One Nation approach to help families across Britain. We will continue to work with industry to develop ways to help parents to better protect children online from inappropriate music videos with explicit adult or violent content.

Clear age ratings are the first step but initial findings of independent research commissioned by the BBFC shows that up to 60 per cent of children aged 10 to 17 are watching music videos that they do not think their parents would approve of.

To help address this, Vevo are exploring plans to link these age ratings to additional technology on their platform that can support age controls.

On YouTube, when record labels upload a UK-produced music video rated 18 by the BBFC, they are able to age-gate access to users signed in as over 18. The new age ratings also complement YouTube's existing restricted mode which helps parents screen out content they may not feel is right for their children. To date 132 music videos have been submitted by UK labels to the BBFC for certification and, of these, only one has been given an 18-rating -- Dizzee Rascal's 'Couple of Stacks'.

Geoff Taylor, BPI Chief Executive, said:

Britain is a world leader in making exciting and original music, in part because our artists have a freedom to express themselves that we rightly cherish. While we must continue to uphold this principle, it is equally important that music videos are broadcast in a responsible way and that parents are given the tools to make more informed viewing decisions on behalf of their families.

UK record labels value the opportunity to work with Government to build on the pilot and, as a key next step, we encourage Vevo, YouTube and other digital service providers to look at how they can make filters available to parents so they can use age ratings to screen out any inappropriate content.

David Cooke, Director of the BBFC, said:

We welcome this agreement. Parents want to see clear and recognisable age ratings on online music videos and we look forward to building on the success of the pilot, in partnership with the industry, so that the public can have the trusted signposting which they seek.

Nic Jones, EVP International at Vevo, said:

Vevo have been participating in the BBFC's age ratings pilot since its inception and welcome news that that scheme is to be permanently backed by UK major labels. We are very pleased that the UK independent labels -- such an important part of the UK music landscape will now be part of this scheme. At Vevo we support artists and their creativity, however, we understand the importance and value that age ratings provide parents and music fans to help inform their viewing, enabling them to make choices about what content they wish to watch.

Vevo will be working with the BBFC as the scheme rolls out to make sure that age ratings are displayed in the most effective way on our platform, to provide the necessary guidance for audiences in a clear way. We are also committed to making the age ratings work as effectively as possible and will continue to explore how additional technology on the platform can support age controls to ensure that explicit content is watched only by age appropriate audiences.

Candice Morrissey, Content Partnerships Manager at YouTube EMEA, said:

We have been working with the participants in this pilot to help them display the BBFC's age ratings on their music videos on YouTube. These ratings are in addition to the controls we already provide on YouTube including the ability for uploaders to add age warnings to videos and a restricted mode.

Government and industry are also working together to look at how lessons learned in the UK could help international partners who share our concerns to adopt a similar approach.

Offsite Article: The Telegraph recommends the top 7 outrage generating music videos

19th August 2015. See  article from

The Telegraph has run a piece that the Daily Mail would be proud of. An article seemingly bemoaning that some of the most outrageous music videos that will escape the BBFC music censors due to them not being British. And of course the Telegraph glories in its lurid descriptions of the video with lots of illustrations of the best bits.

And for the record, the recommended music videos are:

  • Miley Cyrus:  Wrecking Ball
  • Rihanna:  Bitch Better Have My Money
  • Robin Thicke: Blurred Lines
  • Maroon 5: Animals
  • Snoop Dogg: Upside Down
  • M.I.A: Born Free
  • Nelly feat. The Lunatics: Tip Drill

...Read the full article



Offsite Article: Actress Bel Powley tells teenage girls to get a fake ID to see her latest film...

Link Here 8th August 2015
Full story: Diary of a Teenage Girl...BBFC under fire for an 18 rating for a teenage film
Star of The Diary Of A Teenage Girl claims the BBFC is scared of girls after rating it 18

See article from



Touch but don't look...

Film producers of The Diary of a Teenage Girl disappointed by an 18 rating

Link Here24th July 2015
The Diary of a Teenage Girl is a 2015 USA drama by Marielle Heller.
Starring Bel Powley, Alexander Skarsgård and Kristen Wiig. Youtube linkBBFC link IMDb

A teen artist living in 1970s San Francisco enters into an affair with her mother's boyfriend.

The BBFC commented further in its BBFC Insight:

Strong sex scenes include mechanical thrusting, breast and buttock nudity, and implied oral sex. One scene includes brief sight of a pencil drawing of a young woman with a penis in her mouth.

Other issues include several moments of drug use, including cocaine use, the taking of LSD, and the smoking of marijuana. The film also contains strong verbal sex references and over forty uses of strong language ('fuck'). Some still pictures and short animated sequences include the sight of penises, both erect and flaccid.

The filmmakers have expressed disappointment after British film censors gave it an 18 certificate rather than a 15. Producers have been battling against an 18 certificate, arguing that it is exploring female sexuality in an open and honest way, and that other films featuring underage sex, Kidulthood, Fish Tank and The Reader, were all awarded 15 certificates. Wahida Begum of Vertigo Releasing said:

We are massively disappointed.

The film explores female sexuality with boldness and honesty in an unexploitative manner. In an age where young women are still continually being sexualised and objectified we feel The Diary of a Teenage Girl sends a very positive, reassuring message to young girls about female sexuality and body image.

It is a shame that audience will not be able legally see a film that was made by women for women of all ages.

The film is due to be released in the UK, with the 18 certificate, on 7 August.

The film is R rated in the US which would be called a 17A rating in the UK. The film is 15 rated in Australia (MA15+).



The age of political correctness...

The BBFC tries its hand at age ratings for politically incorrect websites

Link Here19th July 2015
As noted in the recently published Annual Report, the BBFC are adjudicating on appeals against unfair website blocking by mobile service providers.

There's a few interesting decisions mainly in areas of age classifications for PC sensitive website themes.

For instance one of the early decisions was about banter on a sports forum featuring a 'rape gallery' highlighting attractive girls. The feature seems to have been deleted from the current forums on offer.

The BBFC reports:

A member of the public was concerned about several chat forum threads on which were available on an operator's mobile service, ranging from jokes about the Bin Laden family, to images with a sexual element, and a thread encouraging members to post pictures of people they would rape, described as a 'Rape Gallery', alongside written comments about raping these individuals.


The BBFC reviewed the content on 5th November 2013.

We partially upheld the complaint. Much of the humorous content was aimed at adolescents and was suitable, under BBFC Guidelines, for 15 year olds and above. This content therefore did not require restriction to adults only. However, we took the view that, while the Rape Gallery might have been intended to be funny, many would not find it so, and, moreover, that it posed a non-trivial harm risk by presenting women as rape targets.

We concluded that it would be classified at least 18 or R18, and might potentially be refused classification.



Letting Off Steam...

Mr Turner heads the near empty list of public complaints about BBFC decisions

Link Here15th July 2015
It seems to be something of a tradition for the press to pick up on the handful of complaints about film classifications as the only thing worth reporting from the BBFC Annual Report.

There are hardly any complaints presumably because the age categories are set more or less in line with most peoples expectations. In addition people have positively elected to go to the cinema or watch the DVD, so are less likely to be surprised at the contents, than for more passive viewing medias like TV.

Anyway the top films that attracted a few whinges are:

  1. The film Mr. Turner , classified 12A, generated the most feedback in 2014: nineteen members of the public complained about a sex scene in the film, though it needs to be kept in mind that this is a very low figure for most complained-about film, and is a tiny proportion of those who will have seen it. In the scene in question, Turner's clothed buttocks are seen clenching vigorously, before the scene cuts to a close-up of his face and his thrusting head and shoulders. The scene is relatively brief and does not contain any nudity, but Turner does appear rather distressed. The act ends with shots of Turner sobbing, almost in an exhibition of self-loathing.
  2. The 15 classification of 12 Years A Slave generated a total of twelve complaints about the violence, including sexual violence, in the film. 12 Years A Slave tells its story in a considered and responsible manner, and contains very little in the way of blood or injury detail. The scenes of violence in the film are strong but are contextually justified. With very few clear images of the injuries inflicted, the depictions of violence serve to illustrate the very real brutality suffered by many slaves at the hands of their masters. The rape of a female slave is shocking but is shown in a discreet manner. There is no nudity and the focus of the scene remains on her impassive face.
  3. The 15 classification for Bad Neighbours received eight complaints. Correspondents raised the language, drug references and sex scenes in the film as problematic to them at 15. There is one use of the word 'cunt' as a man laments the fact that his baby has heard someone swear and worries that soon the baby will begin using the c-word .
  4. 300: Rise of An Empire is the sequel to the film 300 and was classified 15. Seven members of the public contacted the BBFC about scenes of violence, a strong sex scene, and sexual violence in the film. Although 300: Rise Of An Empire does contain strong violence, the sequences are presented in a very stylised and unrealistic manner. For example, scenes of decapitations and slow motion plumes of blood are exaggerated and very clearly rendered using computer generated images. This gives the film a visual style similar to that of the comic book the 300 films are based on.
  5. The Equalizer generated seven complaints from the public for its 15 classification. Correspondents raised the violence in the film as problematic at 15, while others complained that the film had been cut to achieve a 15 classification. Although the violence in The Equalizer is strong in places, particularly during hand to hand fight scenes, it does not dwell on the infliction of pain or injury, nor do any of the scenes qualify as the strongest gory images of the type that would require an 18 classification.



Expanding Online...

BBFC publishes Annual Report covering 2014

Link Here14th July 2015

Further voluntary regulation of online content began in October, when the BBFC in partnership with the BPI, Vevo and You Tube, and UK record companies Sony Music UK, Universal Music UK and Warner Music UK, launched a pilot to classify online music videos by UK artists signed to the three major labels. The pilot brings the same content standards to online music videos as that envisaged by an amendment to the Video Recordings Act, in force from 1 October 2014, requiring the classification of previously exempt music videos, and other educational, sport or religious videos, on DVD and Blu-ray. Any video featuring content at the 12, 15 or 18 level must be submitted to the BBFC for classification. BBFC Director David Cooke said:

As in 2013, the most fast-moving developments in our work have been in the non-statutory, self-regulatory area. Our work to protect children from potentially harmful media content online increased significantly and our partnership with the mobile industry to regulate, on a voluntary basis, internet and commercial content delivered via the mobile networks of EE, O2, Three and Vodafone also received praise from the Government, child protection groups and others, including the Open Rights Group. In 2014 we considered appeals in relation to 42 websites available via mobile networks, dealing with issues as diverse as assisted dying, racism, abortion, and hunting. Details of all of these cases are published on our website.

In addition to a growth in voluntary regulation, the BBFC classified more than 950 films for cinema release in 2014, making the level of theatrical submissions on a par with the 1960s.

In 2013 the BBFC Classification Guidelines review consulted more than 10,000 members of the British public about film classification and found that 75% understand that a film rated 12A is generally suitable for children aged 12 and over, but a younger child may see the film if accompanied by an adult. Because up to a quarter of those surveyed were unsure as to the meaning of the 12A rating, from July to September 2014 an advertisement to help increase awareness of what the 12A cinema rating means was broadcast in cinemas across the UK. The advertisement reminds parents to check the BBFCinsight for every 12A film before they take a child under 12 to see it.

As part of our wider education work, in 2014 the BBFC spoke to more than 12,000 teenagers, younger children and adults about its work to protect children and empower consumers. Many BBFC education sessions take place in partnership with film festivals, libraries and cinema chains. Our biggest collaboration of 2014 was with the Into Film Festival where we introduced 22 screenings at 17 cinema locations across the UK.

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