The BBFC is the British Board of Film Classification, they handle the classification of films in order to “Protect the public, and especially children, from content which might raise harm risk”


The difference between a PG rating and a 15 rating is the amount of swearing, if there is discriminatory language and/ or behaviour or drug taking.

The Criminal Law: The Criminal Law is a law where the BBFC cannot pass any material likely to infringe the criminal law. This is heavily influenced by the Obscene Publications acts of 1959 and 1964, The Cinematograph Films (Animals) Act 1937, The Animal Welfare Act 2006 and The Protection of Children Act 1978.

The Video Recordings Act: Video works (including films, TV programmes and video games) which are supplied on a disc, tape or any other device capable of storing data electronically must be classified by the BBFC unless they fall within the definition of an exempted work.

When considering whether to award a classification certificate to a work, or whether to classify a work at a particular category, the BBFC is required by the Act to have special regard (among the other relevant factors) to the likelihood of works being viewed in the home, and to any harm that may be caused to potential viewers or, through their behaviour, to society by the manner in which the work deals with:

  • criminal behaviour
  • illegal drugs
  • violent behaviour or incidents
  • horrific behaviour or incidents
  • human sexual activity.

In considering these issues the BBFC has in mind the possible effect not only on children but also on other vulnerable people.

Race Relations Act: The Race Relations Act 1976, which was changed to the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000, places a legal obligation on public authorities to have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination and to promote equality of opportunity and good relations between persons of different racial groups.

In 2004, Examiners discussed whether the Act was relevant during their deliberations after seeing the film, The Passion of the Christ, which some commentators accused of being anti-Semitic. The BBFC’s conclusion was that it was neither anti-Semitic nor indeed blasphemous.

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