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British public demands accountability for film censors

Mediawatch UK, a UK broadcasting watchdog, has published a survey showing that 80 per cent of the British public wants the British Board of Film Classification to be fully transparent and accountable to Parliament

Mediawatch UK, a UK broadcasting watchdog, has published a survey showing that 80 per cent of the British public wants the British Board of Film Classification to be fully transparent and accountable to Parliament.

The results of the survey, carried out by ComRes, coincide with a Private Members Bill introduced by Julian Brazier MP (Canterbury), which is receiving a second reading in the House of Commons today.

The Bill attracted publicity earlier this month when the Board classified a number of video works, banned by the Director of Public Prosecutions, such as "SS Experiment Camp."

"The results confirm what we have always believed." said John Beyer, director of Mediawatch UK. "The British public continues to retain a high degree of common sense and is not impressed by the self-interested demands of the film industry.

"We again call upon the BBFC to review its guidelines on violence, call upon the games industry to act more responsibly on violence and call upon the Office of Communications to enforce the terms of the Broadcasting Code much more vigorously, particularly with regard television programmes that condone and glamorise seriously antisocial behaviour and violence."

With 76 per cent of respondents wanting the amount of violence permitted in films, games and on television to be more tightly regulated, and 68 per cent believing there are links between violent crime and the level of violence in films and on television, there is great public concern that the BBFC's classification decisions should reflect broad public opinion.

The survey also suggests that the general public is dissatisfied with the current system.

"We believe that the Prime Minister, who has expressed personal concern about all the violence and pornography that children can so easily see, was wrong to exclude film and television from the remit given to psychologist Dr. Tanya Byron whose report is due next month," Beyer continued.

"Film is a very powerful global influence and it is astonishing that the Board has escaped proper scrutiny for almost 100 years. It is right that Parliament should represent public concerns and we hope very much that Mr Brazierâs Bill will go through unopposed."

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