British Board of Film Classification
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The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), originally British Board of Film Censors, is the organisation responsible for film, DVD and some video game classification within the United Kingdom.
Responsibility and power
The BBFC rates theatrically-released films, videos and some video games. Legally, local authorities have the power to decide under what circumstances films are shown in cinemas, but they nearly always choose to follow the advice of the BBFC.
Under the Video Recordings Act 1984, all video releases not exempt (music, documentary, non-fiction, etc.) under the Act must be classified, it being illegal to supply any recording that has not been certified. Certificates can restrict release to any age of 18 or under, or to only licensed sex-shops. The government currently designate the BBFC as the authority for certifying video releases. As the Act requires the certificate to be displayed on the packaging and media labels of the video recording, in practice only UK releases can be legally sold or hired in the UK, even if a foreign release has identical content.
Video games with specific themes or content (such as the Grand Theft Auto series) must also be submitted to the BBFC to receive a legally-binding rating (contrast with the advisory PEGI ratings) in the same way as videos. Other video games may be submitted at the publisher's discretion.
All videos and games rated by the BBFC receive a certificate, along with "consumer advice" detailing references to sex, violence and coarse language. If a certificate specifies that a film or video game is only suitable for someone over a certain age, then only those over that age may buy it.
The BBFC can also advise cuts for a less-restrictive rating. This generally occurs in borderline cases where distributors have requested a certificate and the BBFC has rated the work at a more-restrictive level; however, some cuts are compulsory, such as scenes that violate the Protection of Children Act or Cinematograph Films (Animals) Act. The final certificate then depends on the distributor's decision on whether or not to make the suggested cuts. Some works are even rejected if the distributor refuses the cut.
The BBFC currently issues the following certificates. The category logos were introduced in early 2002, replacing the previous ones that had been in place since 1985.