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Cross border issues...

Netflix is reusing its age ratings, produced using a scheme agreed with the BBFC, in Ireland

Link Here4th December 2019
Full story: Irish Film Censors at IFCO...IFCO: the Irish film censor board
It seems that Netfllix has been stealing a march on the Irish Film Classification Office (IFCO) by using a joint BBFC/Netflix rating system for Netflix users in Ireland.

Back in March 2019 the BBFC agreed on rating system with Netflix such that Netflix would determine age rating for the programmes and films using the BBFC guidelines. The BBFC has just a quality control role to ensure that Netflix is following the guidelines.

It is reported that these age ratings are now being reused for Netflix users in Ireland. And Newstalk has beein inquiring if the IFCO is happy with this arrangement.

The IFCO responded saying it has no legal remit on non physical product in Ireland. However Ger Connolly, the director of film classification, said:

I do intend to engage with Apple TV and other providers to examine if there is a mechanism to cooperate for the benefit of Republic of Ireland residents.



The price of censorship...

BBFC raises its prices on 1st January 2020

Link Here29th November 2019
88 Films has tweeted an image of a BBFC letter detailing a price rise of 1.4% on 1st January 2020.

The BBFC provides examples of the cost of classifying an average length cinema film (104m) will now be £1074 + VAT.

The BBFC provide a rather meaningless average home video submission off 77m (half way between a TV episode and a feature film, but neither representative of one or the other). The price for that will be £752 + VAT. Which probably means closed to a grand for a 90m film.

Now of course one may say that such commercial information is not really relevant to film censorship, but it is. The higher the cost of censorship the less likely it is that small market film will get a commercial release at all.



H for horrific...

The BBFC reminisces about its history of remarkably few changes to its categories

Link Here28th November 2019
The BBFC (@BBFC) have tweeted:

A little piece of BBFC history for you, to mark #throwbackthursday: There used to be an H classification, which stood for Horrific.

In fact there is an interesting page on their website that outlines this history of BBFC film certificates. There were hardly any changes from when they started in 1913 until 1970.

1913 Universal U and an advisory A

The A was for more adult oriented films but as all films were highly censored at the time there was no need to be any more restrictive than that.

1932 Universal U , advisory A and an advisory H

The advisory H for Horrific was introduced to indicate horror themes. Films were still highly censored and there was still no need to be restrictive about the ratings.

1951 Universal U , Advisory A and a restricted X (16+)

For the first time an age restricted 16+ X category was introduced. This replaced the H certificate.

And that's it until 1970. Note that local authorities held sway over the BBFC and had their own rules, eg with London requiring children to be accompanied when seeing an A rated film.




The BBFC belatedly publishes its 18 rating for the uncut store exclusive 4K Blu-ray release and 15 for the cut Blu-ray and DVD

Link Here17th November 2019

Brightburn is a 2019 USA Sci-Fi horror thriller by David Yarovesky.
Starring Elizabeth Banks, David Denman and Matt Jones. BBFC link IMDb

BBFC advised category cuts were required for a 15 rated cinema and home video release in 2019. The uncut version is available on an HMV exclusive release. Uncut and MPAA R rated in the US.

Summary Notes

What if a child from another world crash-landed on Earth, but instead of becoming a hero to mankind, he proved to be something far more sinister?


BBFC uncut
US Theatrical Version
run: 90:28s
pal: 86:51s


UK: The US Theatrical Version was passed 18 uncut for strong gory violence, injury detail for
  • 2019 Sony store exclusive [uncut on 4K Blu-ray, cut on Blu-ray] R0 4k Blu-ray/R0 Blu-ray Combo]
Nordic: The Nordic release is uncut and 15/16 rated for:
  • 2019 Sony [English audio + English subtitles] R0 Blu-ray at UK Amazon

US: Rated R uncut for horror violence/bloody images, and language.

BBFC cut
UK Version
cut: ~17s
run: 90:11s
pal: 86:35s
15UK: The cut UK Version was passed 15 for strong gory injury detail, violence, language after BBFC advised category cuts adding up to a 17s difference in running time:
  • 2019 Sony RB Blu-ray
  • 2019 Sony R2 DVD
  • 2019 Sony VoD
  • 2019 cinema release
The BBFC commented:
  • This film was originally seen for advice at which stage the company was informed it was likely to be classified 18 uncut but that their preferred 15 classification could be achieved by making reductions to two scenes featuring both strong gory images and a dwelling on the infliction of pain and injury. When the film was submitted for formal classification these scenes had been acceptably reduced.



Updated: Terminator: Dark Fate...

15 rated for UK cinema release and MPAA R rated in the US

Link Here31st October 2019
Terminator: Dark Fate is a 2019 China / USA action Sci-Fi adventure by Tim Miller.
Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mackenzie Davis and Edward Furlong. BBFC link IMDb

More than two decades have passed since Sarah Connor prevented Judgment Day, changed the future, and re-wrote the fate of the human race. Dani Ramos (Natalia Reyes) is living a simple life in Mexico City with her brother (Diego Boneta) and father when a highly advanced and deadly new Terminator - a Rev-9 (Gabriel Luna) - travels back through time to hunt and kill her. Dani's survival depends on her joining forces with two warriors: Grace (Mackenzie Davis), an enhanced super-soldier from the future, and a battle-hardened Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton). As the Rev-9 ruthlessly destroys everything and everyone in its path on the hunt for Dani, the three are led to a T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) from Sarah's past that may be their last best hope.

The BBFC has just announced its rating for the cinema release of Terminator: Dark Fate. It was passed 15 uncut for strong violence, bloody images, language.

There has been a little debate as to whether the franchise has returned to more adult oriented fare but 4 other European countries have passed the film with 12 ratings or under. So maybe the 15 rating from the BBFC is an outlier and 12 is the norm.

Update: Censored whilst claiming to be uncensored

16th October 2019. See latest MPAA ratings [pdf] from

The film has just been rated R by the MPA (previously MPAA) for violence throughout, language and brief nudity.

Update: New Zealand's Chief Censor speaks about his 13 rating

31st October 2019. See article from

Terminator: Dark Fate, released in New Zealand today, has been given an R13 rating by the Office of Film and Literature Classification, with warnings for strong violence and offensive language.

But in Australia, the film has a rating of MA15+, which means it is legally restricted to viewers aged 15 and older (children under 15 must be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian). The film also has a certificate of 15 in the UK, while in the US it has been rated R, which requires anyone under the age of 17 to be accompanied by an adult.

Chief censor David Shanks said based on the office's research, New Zealand audiences tended to be less concerned about bad language and nudity than other markets, which sometimes resulted in disparities. He said:

In this case, we've given another major film a lower restriction than the Australian authorities. It's not that we're more conservative or more liberal than any of the other authorities, it's just that due to our engagement with young people and the public, we're attuned to and sensitised to slightly different things.

Shanks also pointed out that the R13 classification was unique to New Zealand, with the Australian Classification Board having to choose between M and MA15+.



BBFC introduces new symbols on Netflix to help a rather fragile sounding generation...

A BBFC tabloid style survey of teens finds that unwanted content leaves 46% feeling anxious and 5% saying it had a negative impact on their mental health

Link Here29th October 2019

Don't call us boring: 'Generation Conscious' want to make better decisions than ever before

The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) is launching new age rating symbols which, for the first time, are designed for digital streaming platforms - a move which will give young people better and consistent guidance about film and TV content, enabling them to make conscious decisions about what they watch.

New research from the BBFC reveals, given their access to more media, nine in 10 (87%) 12-19 year olds want to make better decisions than ever before. Two thirds (66%) of young people resent the idea of being perceived as 'boring' or 'sensible' - something three quarters (74%) of adults admit to having thought.

Instead, almost all teens (97%) want more credit for being conscious decision makers, making informed and positive choices throughout all aspects of their life. The BBFC's own research showed 95% of teenagers want consistent age ratings that they recognise from the cinema and DVD to apply to content accessed through streaming services.

A majority (56%) of teens are concerned about watching content without knowing what it contains - and say they want clear age ratings to guide them. A third of teens (32%) say they see content they'd rather avoid on a weekly basis, leaving them feeling uncomfortable or anxious (46%), and one in twenty (5%) saying it had a negative impact on their mental health.

The BBFC's new digital classification symbols, launching on Thursday 31 October, will help young people to make conscious decisions when it comes to film and content on video on demand platforms. Netflix has welcomed the new symbols, and will begin rolling them out on the platform starting from Thursday 31 October. This builds on the ongoing partnership between the BBFC and Netflix, which will see the streaming service classify content using BBFC guidelines, with the aim that 100% of content on the platform will carry a BBFC age rating.

David Austin, Chief Executive of the BBFC, said: "It's inspiring to see young people determined to make conscious and thoughtful decisions. We want all young people to be empowered and confident in their film and TV choices. As the landscape of viewing content changes, so do we. We're proud to be launching digital symbols for a digital audience, to help them choose content well."

The move empowers young people to confidently engage with TV and film content in the right way. Half (50%) of young people say having access to online content and the internet helps them have tough conversations or navigate tricky subjects, like mental health and sexuality, when talking to parents.

Jack, 12, from Peterborough said: "It's difficult to choose what to watch online as there is so much choice out there. I like to think about things before I watch them. Sometimes my friends watch stuff I don't think is appropriate or I might find scary or it just isn't for me. I could definitely make better decisions and avoid uncomfortable situations if age ratings were more clearly signposted."

The BBFC is calling for streaming services to clearly label content with age ratings - and has this month launched its first set of VOD User Guidelines , developed in conjunction with video on demand platforms. These user guidelines outline how streaming services can help people by offering clearer, more consistent and comprehensive use of trusted, well understood, BBFC age ratings to support 'Generation Conscious'.

The BBFC commissioned Studio AKA to produce a short animation , showcasing the new age rating symbols, to help families help view what's right for them. The film is currently being played nationwide in cinemas until Sunday 3 November.



How about a Government Harms Bill?...

The Government reveals that it spent 2.2 million on its failed Age Verification for porn policy and that doesn't include the work from its own civil servants

Link Here25th October 2019

More than £2m of taxpayers' money was spent preparing for the age verification for porn censorship regime before the policy was dropped in early October, the government has revealed.

The bulk of the spending, £2.2m, was paid to the BBFC to do the detailed work on the policy from 2016 onwards. Before then, additional costs were borne by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, where civil servants were tasked with developing the proposals as part of their normal work.

Answering a written question fromthe shadow DCMS secretary, Tom Watson, Matt Warman for the government added: Building on that work, we are now establishing how the objectives of part three of the Digital Economy Act can be delivered through our online harms regime.

It is not just government funds that were wasted on the abortive scheme. Multiple private companies had developed systems that they were hoping to provide age verification services.

The bizarre thing was all this money was spent when the government knew that it wouldn't even prevent determined viewers from getting access to porn. It was only was only considered as effective from blocking kids from stumbling on porn.

So all that expense, and all that potential danger for adults stupidly submitting to age verification, and all for what?

Well at least next time round the  government may consider that they should put a least a modicum of thought about people's privacy.

It's not ALL about the kids. Surely the government has a duty of care for adults too. We need a Government Harms bill requiring a duty of care for ALL citizens. Now that would be a first!



Offsite Article: Joker at the BBFC...

Link Here17th October 2019
We've had a lot of comments and questions about our classification for Joker - which we rated 15. We've published a case study which explains our decision in more depth. Spoiler warning though.

See article from



A verified dud...

The government cancels current plans for age verification requirements for porn as defined in the Digital Economy Act. It will readdress the issue as part of its Online Harms bill

Link Here16th October 2019
Nicky Morgan, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, issued a written statement cancelling the government's current plans to require age verification for porn. She wrote:

The government published the Online Harms White Paper in April this year. It proposed the establishment of a duty of care on companies to improve online safety, overseen by an independent regulator with strong enforcement powers to deal with non-compliance. Since the White Paper's publication, the government's proposals have continued to develop at pace. The government announced as part of the Queen's Speech that we will publish draft legislation for pre-legislative scrutiny. It is important that our policy aims and our overall policy on protecting children from online harms are developed coherently in view of these developments with the aim of bringing forward the most comprehensive approach possible to protecting children.

The government has concluded that this objective of coherence will be best achieved through our wider online harms proposals and, as a consequence, will not be commencing Part 3 of the Digital Economy Act 2017 concerning age verification for online pornography. The Digital Economy Act objectives will therefore be delivered through our proposed online harms regulatory regime. This course of action will give the regulator discretion on the most effective means for companies to meet their duty of care. As currently drafted, the Digital Economy Act does not cover social media platforms.

The government's commitment to protecting children online is unwavering. Adult content is too easily accessed online and more needs to be done to protect children from harm. We want to deliver the most comprehensive approach to keeping children safe online and recognised in the Online Harms White Paper the role that technology can play in keeping all users, particularly children, safe. We are committed to the UK becoming a world-leader in the development of online safety technology and to ensure companies of all sizes have access to, and adopt, innovative solutions to improve the safety of their users. This includes age verification tools and we expect them to continue to play a key role in protecting children online.

The BBFC sounded a bit miffed about losing the internet censor gig. The BBFC posted on its website:

The introduction of age-verification on pornographic websites in the UK is a necessary and important child protection measure. The BBFC was designated as the Age-verification Regulator under the Digital Economy Act 2017 (DEA) in February 2018, and has since worked on the implementation of age-verification, developing a robust standard of age-verification designed to stop children from stumbling across or accessing pornography online. The BBFC had all systems in place to undertake the role of AV Regulator, to ensure that all commercial pornographic websites accessible from the UK would have age gates in place or face swift enforcement action.

The BBFC understands the Government's decision, announced today, to implement age-verification as part of the broader online harms strategy. We will bring our expertise and work closely with government to ensure that the child protection goals of the DEA are achieved.

I don suppose we will ever hear the real reasons why the law was ditched, but I  suspect that there were serious problems with it. The amount of time and effort put into this, and the serious ramifications for the BBFC and age verification companies that must now be facing hard times must surely make this cancelling a big decision.

It is my guess that a very troublesome issue for the authorities is how both age verification and website blocking would have encouraged a significant number of people to work around government surveillance of the internet. It is probably more important to keep tabs on terrorists and child abusers rather than to lose this capability for the sake of a kids stumbling on porn.

Although the news of the cancellation was reported today, Rowland Manthorpe, a reporter for Sky News suggested on Twitter that maybe the idea had already been shelved back in the summer. He tweeted:

When @AJMartinSky and I  broke the news that the porn block was being delayed again, we reported that it was on hold indefinitely. It was. Then our story broke. Inside DCMS a sudden panic ensued. Quickly, they drafted a statement saying it was delayed for 6 months



Rated PG for problematic parental guidance...

The BBFC is working with Women's Aid campaign group to consider age ratings for films depicting domestic abuse

Link Here15th October 2019
The campaign group Women's Aid is working with the BBFC on a consultation with victims of domestic abuse about how scenes of domestic abuse are classified and the warnings we see before we watch scenes of domestic abuse.

The BBFC will be working with a research company and Women's Aid to set up focus groups in London and Manchester to discuss the issues raised by a variety of film and media content. Participants will be asked to view three or four feature films, in advance of attending the focus groups, and will then discuss those films as well as some supplementary clips.

The research will be conducted by an independent market research company called Goldstone Perl Research. The focus groups will take place in January.



Innovatively endangering internet porn viewers...

BBFC's Chief Censor, David Austin, is named in Business Insider's UK Top Tech 100

Link Here 13th October 2019

David Austin, CEO of the BBFC, has been named in Business Insider's UK Top Tech 100 for the BBFC's work on age-verification under the Digital Economy Act.

Every year, Business Insider publishes the UK Tech 100 204 a list of the 100 most interesting, innovative, and influential people shaping the UK tech scene. David Austin is a new entry, and enters the list at number 96.

David Austin said:

I'm very pleased to be included in the UK tech 100 on behalf of the BBFC. It's recognition of the innovation that the BBFC brings to developing regulatory solutions to help families and protect children in the online space.

Under the Digital Economy Act 2017, all online commercial pornography services accessible from the UK will be required to carry age-verification controls to prevent children from seeing content that isn't appropriate for them. Nor may they carry extreme pornography. These services mainly take the form of websites and apps.

The UK Government appointed the BBFC as the Age-verification Regulator because of the BBFC's expertise in regulating pornography; its understanding of age verification; and knowledge of online regulation.



Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls...

Just passed 12 uncut by the BBFC after years of being cut for a PG rating

Link Here3rd October 2019
Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls is a 1995 USA comedy adventure by Steve Oedekerk.
Starring Jim Carrey, Ian McNeice and Simon Callow. Youtube link BBFC link IMDb

Ace Ventura, emerging from self-imposed exile in a remote Himalayan hideaway, travels to Africa with explorer Fulton Greenwall to find a sacred bat which is told will avert a war between with Wachootoo and Wachati tribes. Of course, when Ace gets involved, all hell breaks loose...

The BBFC has just passed the film 12 uncut for moderate sex references, rude humour, comic violence, gore for an upcoming 2019 video release from Arrow Films.

For many years previously, the film has been released with cuts for a PG rating. Saying that the film was released uncut on a 12 rated Blu-ray double bill 2015 but it has taken until now for a 12  rated video version to appear on the BBFC website.

The film has always been uncut in the US albeit with a PG-13 rating.

Cutting Edge

Ace Ventura when Nature Calls
See the details of the previous cuts for PG in the Cutting Edge article
Ace Ventura 2: When Nature Calls
Comedy cuts at the BBFC

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