BBFC hand over games censorship to the VSC today
|30th July 2012
article from bbc.com
From 30 July and with a few limited exceptions, the responsibility for classifying video games falls to the Video Standards Council, applying the PEGI system.
The BBFC will continue to classify all games featuring strong
pornographic (R18 level) content and ancillary games attached to a wider, primarily linear submission.
The BBFC will also examine and offer a determination on certain linear content in video games. This determination will help the
Video Standards Council in reaching an overall classification for the video game. The BBFC will offer a determination for linear content which does not contribute to the narrative drive of the game, whether this footage is live action or computer
generated; embedded in the game or simply contained on the game disc. Examples of such linear content include the TV material created for the GTA series; video rewards for completing certain tasks or levels within the game; or other video content which
does not contribute to the narrative drive of the video game.
The BBFC will continue to classify all non-game linear content on a game disc, such as trailers and featurettes.
Lessons in internet safety to be added to the school curriculum
Based on article from
Lessons in using the internet safely are set to become a compulsory part of the curriculum for primary school children in England from 2011. Children will also be encouraged to follow an online Green Cross Code and block and report inappropriate
The Zip it, Block it, Flag it campaign is intended for use by schools, retailers and social networks, although it will be up to individual sites to choose how they use it.
The campaign intends to encourage children to not
give out personal information on the web, block unwanted messages on social networks and report any inappropriate behaviour to the appropriate bodies, which may include the website, teachers or even police.
False pictures posted on social
networking sites will have to be removed by host companies within 24 hours of a complaint under internet safety rules published today.
Companies will also be forced to apply far more effective privacy settings or lockdowns for parents to use on
search engines so that young people do not stray on to pornographic or violent sites.
The two new requirements on the industry are part of the Government's long-delayed child internet safety strategy, which will be launched by Ed Balls, the
Children's Secretary, and Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary.
Ministers delayed their final strategy because negotiations between safety campaigners and the internet companies proved so tortuous. Companies fiercely resisted moves to burden adult
internet users with cumbersome safety features that would slow down or restrict access to the web. Some were also sceptical that many parents would use features such as privacy settings or filtering software because they do not understand how it all
However, after months of discussions the industry has agreed to independent oversight of all the new policies so that progress can be objectively monitored. They had initially wanted to self-regulate. One of the big consultancy companies is
likely to be asked to take on the oversight task.
The new strategy is called Click Clever Click Safe and was drawn up by the UK Council for Child Internet Safety. The creation of the council, a coalition of government, industry and
charities, was one of Dr Tanya Byron's recommendations. She said that it should be the conscience of the industry, encouraging it to take a greater responsibility for removing inappropriate content promptly, promoting and improving parental control
software and regulating online advertising.
The strategy is thought to be the first of its kind and ministers hope it will be adopted around the world.
Social networking sites to add panic buttons
article from technology.timesonline.co.uk
Facebook and other social networking websites are to install panic buttons so children can alert the sites' operators if obscene or inappropriate material is posted.
The site is among 140 companies, charities and other groups who have
signed up to new internet standards recommended by Tanya Byron, the government's adviser on online safety. Ed Balls, the schools secretary, and Alan Johnson, the home secretary, will announce the new voluntary code on Tuesday. Gordon Brown may also take
part in the launch.
The panic button system, similar to one already announced by Bebo, requires companies to display prominently on their websites how children can report offensive or inappropriate content and to respond promptly.
provisions include giving parents greater control over how their children use the internet, with sites obliged to provide safe search facilities and controls with which parents can restrict access to offensive or bullying pages.
guidelines will concentrate on websites moderated by staff, such as chatrooms, instant messaging and search websites. Details will be drawn up by the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS), set up following a review by Byron published in March
last year. They will be published in the summer.
Advertising codes for video games updated in response to Tanya Byron's recommendations
Dr Tanya Byron's review, Safer Children in a Digital World , looked at the advertising of video games, its effect on children and the clarity of guidance to the industry.
Advertising codes are the responsibility of two industry
Committees independently administered by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA):
- the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP)
- the Broadcast Committee of Practice (BCAP)
The Review made two recommendations to the advertising self-regulatory system, specifically on its rules and guidance:
- …that the video games industry and the advertising industry should work together to ensure consistency of approach between advertising self-regulation and the video games classification systems
… that the advertising and video game industries, and those responsible for the classification of video games should work together to produce CAP and BCAP guidance on the advertising of video games.
The Review also highlighted the granularity of codes and guidance relating to ads for video games and encouraged CAP and BCAP to introduce, during the Code Review, placement and scheduling restrictions on ads for age-rated video games.
The ASA, CAP and BCAP have now actioned Byron's recommendations:
- In 2008, the ASA conducted a Video Games Advertising Survey to assess the compliance rate of advertising for video games against the Codes.
- In its Code Review consultation, BCAP proposed a new scheduling rule for ads for video games, which
mirrors the scheduling restrictions already in place for ads for films and videos. The proposed rule would prevent video games carrying an 18+, 16+ or 15+ rating from being advertising in or adjacent to programmes commissioned for, principally directed
at or likely to appeal particularly to audiences below the age of 16.
- CAP and BCAP have compiled new Guidance, which is intended to help advertisers and media owners on both broadcast and non-broadcast ads for video games. The Guidance draws
together all of CAP and BCAP's existing guidance on ads for video games and films, as well as lessons from relevant ASA adjudications, to provide a useful, central source of information. The Guidance will also apply to ads for films because they too have
the potential to breach the Advertising Codes through unsuitable scheduling or placement or through the content of the ad.
- To assist the advertising industry further, CAP and BCAP will host an Advice:am seminar on video games and films ads on 15
September this year. The seminar will clarify the Codes' requirements on ads for video games and films and to provide a forum for stakeholders to ask questions about those requirements.
So, by launching new, consolidated Guidance, proposing a TV scheduling rule for video games ads based on the existing rule for ads for films, and by hosting an Advice:am seminar, CAP and BCAP are working with the industry to make sure the dos and
don'ts of advertising video games and films are clear. That way, CAP and BCAP can help ensure ads for video games and films remain responsible and that children are protected from potentially harmful or distressing ad content.
Timetable for switch to PEGI ratings
Based on article from
PEGI will have to wait the best part of a year until it becomes the UK's sole classification system by law.
The proposal to implement PEGI as the UK's only games age classification model, overseen by the Video Standards Council, was put forward
by Labour in its Digital Britain White Paper earlier this week.
More consultation will now take place between stakeholders PEGI, the VSC and the Department of Culture, Media And Sport to ‘fine tune' the bill, which will eventually alter the the
Video Recordings Act, last tweaked back in 1994.
Following this, it will have to be approved by Parliamentary procedure, which is not likely to be completed until 2010.
However, as reported by MCV, the all-new PEGI logos WILL start
appearing on boxes across Europe this summer, and are already being manufactured.
Fear of Indistinctive Symbols
article from news.bbc.co.uk
The videogame trade association, Tiga, say the Pan European Game Information (PEGI) rating systems has room for improvement.
Tiga's chief, Dr Richard Wilson, said changes were needed to make the logos instinctively recognisable. There
needs to be an advertising campaign and publicity as to what these pictograms actually mean. While the age ratings are fairly clear, there needs to be improvement to the system - especially the pictograms - because they are not instinctively
Laurie Hall - the director general of the Video Standards Council, which administers the PEGI system in the UK - agreed with Dr Wilson and told the BBC that more work needed to be done: I think people need to be made more
aware. Take the spider logo: that means 'fear'. In other words, people might find the game scary, but you might not immediately jump to that conclusion looking at the box. Our plan is to have a big awareness campaign and also put consumer information
about the game on the packaging, in English, which will help.
VSC designated as UK's game censor overseeing self rating via PEGI classifications
Based on press release from
See also Digital Britain Final
An overhaul of video games classification rules will make selling a video game rated 12 or over to an underage person illegal for the first time, Creative Industries Minister Siôn Simon has announced.
The PEGI (Pan European Game
Information) system, currently used in most European countries, will become the sole method of classifying video games in the UK. It will replace the current hybrid system that has BBFC & PEGI ratings, either of which can appear on video games, and
is sufficiently adaptable to work in the rapidly expanding online games market.
There is a new role for the Video Standards Council (VSC), an organisation which is independent from the games industry and will take a statutory role as the
designated authority for videogames classification in the UK. It will have a mandate to implement the PEGI classification system for all video games.
This new system will work alongside the robust regulation of Films and DVDs carried out by the
British Board of Film Classification, to ensure that consumers have the strongest possible protection across these media. There is no intention to disturb BBFC's jurisdiction in respect of linear material. The BBFC will continue to provide Blu Ray
distributors with a one-stop service as at present. It is important that the BBFC and the VSC work together to share best practice in a rapidly changing and demanding media landscape.
The Government will now work closely with PEGI and the VSC on
the development of a single, clear set of age-rating symbols to give parents the information they need to ensure that children are protected from unsuitable content, and help retailers to avoid breaking the law by selling games to people below the
appropriate age. The new system will consist of five age categories and a series of pictorial boxes, describing content such as bad language or violence.
Professor Tanya Byron said: The PEGI system has been strengthened since my review and the
Government has consulted widely on each of my suggested criteria. I support the Government's decision to combine the PEGI system with UK statutory oversight.
The new system:
- mirrors the way games are classified in much of Europe, which is increasingly important as more games are played online and across international borders
- is designed with child-safety as its main priority
- is highly adaptable and
works well for games distributed both on and offline
- includes tough sanctions for manufactures who flout the rules, for example by making a false declaration about a game's content. These include fines of up to 500,000 Euros and a refusal to
The new system will extend PEGI's remit so that all games are classified using its symbols. Information on the content of each game will be submitted to PEGI administrators including the Video Standards Council, which will then review each game to
ensure it complies with the law. Following this evaluation, the manufacturer receives a licence to use the PEGI rating logos. The VSC, as statutory authority, will take account of UK sensibilities, and will have the power to ban games that are
inappropriate for release in the UK.
PEGI's code of conduct determines which age rating is appropriate for different types of content. The PEGI Advisory Board, which includes representatives of parent and consumer groups, child psychologists,
media experts and lawyers, maintains the code and recommends adjustments in line with social, technological or legal developments.
Comment: BBFC Director David Cooke Responds
See article from bbfc.co.uk
We have argued
consistently that any games classification system needs to put child protection at its heart. It must involve consultation with the British public, command their trust, and reflect their sensibilities. It must take account of tone and context and be
carried out by skilled and knowledgeable examiners. It needs to involve the provision of full, helpful and carefully weighed information to parents and the public more generally. It must have the power and will to reject or intervene in relation to
unacceptable games or game elements. It should make a substantial contribution to media education, for example through dedicated websites and through work with pupils, students and teachers. It must be speedy and cost effective. It must have the
capabilities to monitor online gameplay and to attract new members to online classification schemes. And it must be independent in substance as well as appearance, reaching its decisions and providing information on the basis of its own detailed
The BBFC has always supported PEGI and wished it well, but it continues to believe that it satisfies these requirements better than PEGI. However, it will cooperate fully in the detailed work needed to give effect to the Government's
Government to announce computer game censorship scheme in Digital Britain report
Based on article from mcvuk.com
Labour will announce the new industry standard age classification system on Tuesday next week (June 16th) as part of its Digital Britain report, MCV reveals.
The news comes 12 months after the publication of the Government's Byron Review, which
recommended the introduction of one clear age ratings system, falling on the side of ‘cinema-style' classification.
However, a year of consultation with industry followed, in which publishers and ELSPA made their support for a PEGI-led system
very clear, rather than the DVD-style BBFC ratings.
Advert censors finds that game companies advertises responsibly
article from guardian.co.uk
The advertising censor has cleared the marketing practices of the video games industry after conducting a wide-ranging review at the behest of Dr Tanya Byron's review into child safety.
The compliance report, carried out by the Advertising
Standards Authority, monitored 241 video game adverts on TV, cinema, online and posters from April to June last year.
The compliance survey found that the majority of the ads monitored did not breach the advertising code. Just one ad was found to
be in breach.
The ASA said most of the ads, apart from radio, made a clear reference to the age-rating of the game.
In addition it found that the content of the ads mostly reflected the age-rating of the game with more
graphic imagery appearing for video games rated 15 or 18.
Depiction of violence was a strong theme, but it was often stylised, fantasy-like and clearly separated from reality, said the ASA. Appropriate scheduling and placement of the ads
meant they were not considered to be problematic.
The advertising watchdog conducted the survey following recommendations raised in Dr Byron's report Safer Children in a Digital World published last year. Byron's review questioned
the level to which violent and inappropriate imagery is targeted at children and recommended a survey to look at whether video game ads are advertised and targeted appropriately and in line with their age restrictions.
Our survey is encouraging
as it suggests that video games are being advertised responsibly and in line with the [advertising] codes, said Christopher Graham, director general of the ASA.
PEGI to roll out new rating symbols in Europe next spring
article from gamesdog.co.uk
Games classification wrangle promises to be a real shoot-'em-up from
The new traffic light rating system from PEGI is to be introduced into mainland Europe this spring.
Age rating symbols are yet to be finalised, but the current imagery that includes a spider, fist and syringe, is to be expanded on to include
descriptive text. This follows suggestions from the Byron report that the symbols were previously too confusing for consumers.
When settled upon, age ratings will be coloured red, orange and green, rather than the current black and white.
However, they are currently being reworked from the first design to avoid copyright issues with the UK's BBFC colour-coded ratings.
PEGI has agreed those changes and they will be implemented as part of the PEGI system in the new year, probably
in the spring by the time the information has been transmitted to all publishers and incorporated as part of the approvals process for the format holders, said Michael Rawlinson, managing director of ELSPA.
It's still unclear if the traffic
light system will be used in the UK as the government is currently looking through information submitted following the Byron review before it decides on the way games should be rated.
The introduction of traffic light colours and changes to
the descriptors have been approved, they are now being worked through with lawyers to ensure they do not infringe any existing trademarks and can be adopted smoothly.
BBFC unsurprisingly unimpressed by Elspa symbols
The BBFC has told Edge it is taking legal advice after observing that the newly-proposed 'traffic-light' PEGI symbols bear a striking resemblance to its own.
The BBFC believes such a system is around already. Our classification symbols have
been colour-coded since 1982. They're very widely recognised, and in fact they are trademark and copyright protected, a company spokesperson told Edge.
We're happy for ELSPA to make sensible improvements, but not if they encroach on the
protection of the BBFC's symbols. We have these symbols using colours, using circles and using numbers, so we are now taking legal advice.