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Retailers to face criminal sanctions for mis-selling games

By Phil Elliott

Thu 27 Mar 2008 3:30pm GMT / 11:30am EDT / 8:30am PDT

DCMS Minister confirms "same rigour to the selling of games" as for films as part of new BBFC emphasis

Videogame retailers could face possible criminal sanctions for selling videogames inappropriately, according to DCMS Minister Andy Burnham.

The news comes following the release of the Byron Review which recommends mandating the BBFC to rate all videogames suitable only for those over the age of 12 – recommendations which have been accepted by the government.

Any titles deemed by PEGI to require a '12', 15' or '18' rating will be passed to the BBFC for classification, and retailers caught selling those titles to underage customers could face prosecution.

"Tanya says in the report that the clarity of the BBFC system is meant to bring that same rigour to the selling of games that's perhaps already there with films," Burnham told "So the same sanctions would apply, and I think I'm correct in saying that there would be criminal sanctions if you sell to underage customers.

"There's a balance here between the benefits that the industry brings, but also the competitive benefits that the industry brings to the country – and all the while reconciling that with some of the concerns and issues that parents raise," he added.

Meanwhile, when asked about the CMS Select Committee which is working on a report parallel to the Byron Review, Burnham explained that it was important to make sure the right decisions were made.

"That's a decision for them, the Select Committee decides what it does, and it's able to hold us, and hold government to account in what we're doing," he said.

"They scrutinise us, and the government has accepted Tanya's recommendations, so obviously the scrutiny should switch from Tanya to us now, because we're taking all of this forward - but we expect there to be a debate, we expect to be held to account in all of this."

And he added that now he was looking forward to acting on Byron's recommendations: "I think it's important that we move forward though. We've had the analysis now, we need to get on and do it."

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