Monday, 28 March 2011

BBFC - 1950s


The new ‘X’ category is introduced to deal with controversial subjects. It incorporates the former ‘H’ category. The category excludes children under the age of 16. Many films are still cut to get into this category for things such as nudity, sex and drugs.

An increase in television ownership erodes the family cinema audience and causes teenage audience to increase. The popular Press suggests that certain films cause teenage criminality.


‘The Wild One’ is rejected until 1967 because the BBFC describes it as ‘a spectacle of unbridled hooliganism’. Some authorities overturned the rejection and allow local releases. The Board cites 1964 riots in English seaside towns (Margate and Clacton) as justification for their decision.


John Nichols replaces Watkins for two years before being replaced by John Trevelyan in 1958.


‘Beat Girl’ fails to impress the Board with the film’s script about a teenage girl considering becoming a stripper to rebel against her father. It is judged to be 'the product of squalid and illiterate minds'. The film is cut several times to get an ‘X’ classification. It is currently a ‘12’ on video.

BBFC - 1912-1949


The British Board of Film Censors is established.


T.P. O’Connor is appointed President of the BBFC. He lays down 43 grounds for deletion for examiners. The list was so strict to earn the trust of the public.

1918 – 1939
Between the First and Second World Wars, several film genres and themes cause concern. These include horrors, gangster films and films dealing with sexuality.

Some councils bar children from ‘A’ rated films in this period.


Arthur Watkins is appointed Secretary to the Board. He was a successful playwright coming from the Home Office. They give advice to many film-makers on scripts.
Watkins and the new President, Harris formulate terms of reference for the BBFC on based on the following:
  • Was the story, incident or dialogue likely to impair the moral standards of the public by extenuating vice or crime or depreciating moral standards?
  • Was it likely to give offence to reasonably minded cinema audiences?
  • What effect would it have on children?
Besides the ‘H’ (for horror) category (which many councils used), there was no category excluding children. An ‘adults only category was seen as desirable to protect children and to allow film-makers to deal with adult subjects.

‘Frankenstein’ (1931) had a sequence cut from it in which the monster drowns a small girl. The film received the ‘H’ category in 1932 to suggest its unsuitability for children. The London County Council and Manchester City Council banned children from seeing it.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

PCC Seminar Reflections

This useful aspect of this seminar was to get a better understanding of why the PCC does what it does today. Also, getting to see some case studies really demonstrated the thought process that goes into whether a complaint if upheld or not.

5 interesting facts I learnt from this seminar:
  • Newspapers owned by Northern & Shell (Daily Star, Sunday Express, OK!, etc.) have not been regulated by the PCC since January
  • If the PCC sees a breach of code but does not receive a complaint from the person in question, the PCC will inform them
  • Each year, the PCC receives several complaints from people about things that do not breach the code, e.g. complaining about photographs being published that reveal a dangerous act of public interest
  • The parts of the code that are breached the most often are accuracy and privacy
  • The PCC can ask contact all press publications, to tell them not to harass a person, etc.

BBFC Seminar Reflections

I think that this seminar was particularly useful because I got a better understand of how the actual process works, as opposed to just the final result. It was also very useful to hear about the BBFC from a personal angle.

Although I learnt a lot from this talk, I have 5 interesting facts:
  • The BBFC used to be about censoring films, not classifying them, hence why the C stood for Censors
  • BBFC board members are much public than they used to be in the past, they now stand for transparency
  • Every country’s classification system, including ours, is mainly based around people’s values
  • Films must be watched in the same way that audiences would see them (in 3D, with subtitles, etc.)
  • If somebody believes a film was classified incorrectly, that classifier must reply and justify their rating

Friday, 11 March 2011

The PCC Code of Practice

The PCC Code of Practice or The Editor’s Code consists of 16 clauses:
  1. Accuracy
  2. Opportunity to reply
  3. *Privacy
  4. *Harassment
  5. Intrusion into grief or shock
  6. *Children
  7. *Children in sex cases
  8. *Hospitals
  9. *Reporting of crime
  10. *Clandestine devices and subterfuge
  11. Victims of sexual assault
  12. Discrimination
  13. Financial journalism
  14. Confidential sources
  15. Witness payments in criminal trials
  16. *Payment to criminals

Clauses marked * may be permitted if it is in the public interest to know.

Considerably more information about these clauses and the public interest can be found here.

Why is the PCC important?

The PCC believes that "in a democracy, the press should not be subject to stringent controls by law or by government” although the press should also remain unaccountable.

The PCC thinks of themselves as a mechanism which can right wrongs when people’s expectations of the press are gone against.

Their motto is made up of three words:
  • Fast – dealing with complaints in ~35 days
  • Free – doesn’t cost to use the service
  • Fair – independent from the industry

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Who complains to the PCC and what do they complain about?

The PCC accepts complaints from anyone who believes an article involving them breaches the Code.

In 2007, 1.5% of complaints came from public figures but 95.8% came from ordinary members of the public.

The Code provides special protection to particularly vulnerable groups such as:
  • Children
  • Hospital patients
  • Those at risk of discrimination

The majority of complaints are about regional newspapers, perhaps because readers attach importance to papers which will be read by people in their locality.