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BBFC: "We are ready"

Thu 27 Mar 2008 12:48pm GMT / 8:48am EDT / 5:48am PDT
Politics

Ratings body welcomes Byron's finding, insists it can handle greater responsibility for games classification

The BBFC has backed the findings of the Byron Review, claiming it is "ready and able to take on the extra work" its recommendations would require.

Among the major points made in the UK government-backed review by Dr Tanya Byron, published this morning, are proposals to reform the games classification process, backing the BBFC's system over the voluntary PEGI model, while calling for a statutory "12+" rating across the board.

"Dr Byron says that when it comes to content, parents want better information on which to base their decisions," said BBFC director David Cooke in a statement. "I welcome the film-style classification system and greater role for the BBFC which she recommends.

"We provide symbols which are trusted and understood; thorough, independent examination by skilled games players; individually tailored health warnings, and also the full reasoning for the classification covering all the key issues; a cutting edge approach to online film and games content, including independent monitoring."

The BBFC's authority was recently undermined by its failure to block the sale of Rockstar's Manhunt 2 in the UK, after its original rejection was overturned by the Video Appeals Committee.

However, Cooke maintained that the body still has the power to refuse material it deems inappropriate.

"Unlike PEGI, the BBFC has the power, in exceptional cases, to reject films, DVDs and games which have the potential to pose real harm risk. We reject an average of two to three works a year (mostly DVDs) and will continue to do so where it is necessary to protect the public."

David Cooke's full statement reads as follows:

"I warmly welcome Dr Byron's report. She has listened very carefully to all the arguments, and exercised her independent and expert judgement.

"It is clear from Dr Byron's report that games classification is less well understood that that for films and DVDs. We all need to work hard to bring understanding up to the same level, and help parents and children make informed choices. Games like Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas are for adults, and should be treated in the same way as '18' rated films and DVDs.

"Dr Byron says that when it comes to content, parents want better information on which to base their decisions. I welcome the film-style classification system and greater role for the BBFC which she recommends in paragraph 7.47 of her report.

"At the BBFC we provide symbols which are trusted and understood; thorough, independent examination by skilled games players; individually tailored health warnings, and also the full reasoning for the classification covering all the key issues; a cutting edge approach to online film and games content, including independent monitoring.

"We co-operate closely with the Pan European Games Information Systems (PEGI) and will continue to do so.

"Unlike PEGI, the BBFC has the power, in exceptional cases, to reject films, DVDs and games which have the potential to pose real harm risk. We reject an average of two to three works a year (mostly DVDs) and will continue to do so where it is necessary to protect the public. At the adult level, we respect the public expectation that adults should be free to choose except where there are real harm risks. But we do not think it would be right to remove the reserve rejection power and we are pleased that Dr Byron agrees with this.

"The BBFC has been able to handle a major expansion of the DVD market over the last few years, and we are ready and able to take on the extra work envisaged by Dr Byron. We attach great importance to providing a speedy and effective service, primarily to the public, but also to the creative industries who produce films, DVDs and games. We will be talking to the Government, PEGI and the games industry about how to implement Dr Byron's recommendations.

"We are also studying very carefully Dr Byron's recommendations on the risks children face from the internet, and believe we have a significant contribution to make in this area too."

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