Articles & Notes — March 29, 2013 at 11:02 pm

BBFC Film Classification might cover digital downloads and streaming films soon

BBFC-logo-ukInternet-only films seem to stuff up the film classification system. The matter is that they don’t have to be viewed before release and therefore receive no ranking.

For a while now, the British Board of Film Classification has been ranking flicks as 18, PG, U, even if it no longer cuts them with the same vigor as earlier.

Mark Dawson, chief digital officer for the British Board of Film Classification, recently admitted that the judgment of the BBFC’s classifiers has been protected for the last three decades.

Although cinema and video were covered, along with DVDs and even films loaded on USB sticks, it still didn’t cover digital downloads from iTunes, as well as streaming from Netflix or Amazon’s LoveFilm.

Now Dawson hopes that he will be able to persuade movie studios and the big digital retailers and services to finance classification of their creations for online consumption. However, there’s no legal backup for this.

Still, there are some signs that the persuasion is working – thus far, more than 250,000 movies have been classified for online consumption. Major content providers, including BT Vision and Netflix, are already using the ratings.

The success story was when Netflix submitted its hit Washington-based remake of House of Cards for classification. This content was created specifically for the web, and released 13 episodes simultaneously last month.

The BBFC gave all of them a 15 rating, except the only one that contained a graphic suicide scene and got an 18.

However, there could be signs that the system might get pushed in the near future. For example, Netflix will debut Hemlock Grove that was created by Eli Roth, who is known as the creator of the tasteful “torture porn” genre with his sadistic horror movie Hostel.

In the meantime, other movies following the genre have been refused any classification.

This lack of rules means that in case Netflix makes something distasteful, which doesn’t get the BBFC’s classification, it could simply distribute it anyway and thus force the entire system to break down.

Mark Dawson doesn’t want new powers to regulate online companies and therefore hopes that the Internet industry gets on board voluntarily.

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