Films and shows featuring racism and discrimination will face clearer BBFC rules


TV and film classifications in the UK are set to change to address the use of racism and other forms of discrimination on-screen.

The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), which makes decisions on which age rating films and TV shows get, commissioned research into the issue and worked with those who have been directly impacted by discrimination.

As part of its research, the BBFC found that parents are worried that children could imitate discriminatory behaviour or language they see, and use ratings to make informed viewing choices.

It also found that some parents wanted to talk to their children about the discrimination, and that BBFC ratings and information would help them do that.

In the report, the BBFC says it will now have a tighter position on use of the n-word in film and TV, while also placing educational value on its use in documentaries.

It will also signal when discrimination is used in films or shows, and continue to consider the likelihood of children copying those behaviours as part of its ratings decision-making.

Lord Kamlesh Patel, vice president of the BBFC, said: “Movements dedicated to raising awareness and combatting discrimination and racism have gained important traction in the last two years.

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“In response, we wanted to see how this has impacted the views of people in the UK and, particularly, to hear from and listen to those who have been directly impacted by discrimination and racism as their voices are important.

“We recognise that our role isn’t just about protecting children from harmful content, it’s about helping parents who might want to use depictions of discrimination and racism as a potential teaching moment.”

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David Austin, chief executive of the BBFC, added: “Violent and threatening behaviour, or use of particularly offensive language, will always aggravate an instance of discriminatory or racist behaviour.

“However, clear condemnation, sympathy with the victims, or a documentary or historical setting can all work to help frame the sequence and potentially give the content educational value for younger viewers.”

Minister for Creative Industries, Julia Lopez, said: “I’m delighted to see the BBFC taking a strong stance on classifying racism and discrimination in eligible film and TV shows. This important work will help the public, and parents in particular, make more informed choices about what their children watch.”

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