In Section B of the exam concerning media regulation, they will always relate to one or more of the following prompts:

  • What is the nature of contemporary media regulation compared with previous practices?
  • What are the arguments for and against specific forms of contemporary media regulation?
  • How effective are regulatory practices?
  • What are the wider social issues relating to media regulation?


This blog will discuss the things above in relation to the BBFC; The British Board of Film Classification.

Who are the BBFC?

The BBFC are a independent non-governmental body that is funded through fees charged to those who submit films and video works for classification. They classify the following:

  • films, trailers and advertisements on behalf of the local authorities who license cinemas
  • video works under the Video Recordings Act in 1984
  • video works which are distributed over the internet

The Guidelines in which the BBFC classify by follow extensive public consultation, as well as other research, expert advice and their accumulated experience over many years. The BBFC has stated their guidelines are to:

  • to protect children and vulnerable adults from potentially harmful or otherwise unsuitable media content
  • to empower consumers, particularly parents and those with responsibility for children, to make informed viewing decisions

The History of The BBFC

  • The British Board of Film Censors was established in 1912 by the film industry when local authorities started to impose their own censorship on films. The arouse to form a body whose judgements would be accepted nationally. By the mid-1920s it had become general practise for local authorities t accept the decisions of the BBFC.
  • The BBFC’s origins initially addressed Health and Safety as early film stock and limelight were both fire hazards.
  • In the past, the BBFC did not have any written rules or codes of practise like the Motion Picture Production Code introduced in 1930.
  • Since 2000, the BBFC has operated under a series of published Guidelines, which are flexible and stress the importance of taking into consideration the context of each individual work.

Between the Wars

  • The kind of material that caused concern included the horror and gangster films, as well as those that dealt with aspects of sexuality. The London County Council (LCC) and the Manchester County Council (MCC) banned children from Frankenstein (1931), although a sequence in which the monster drowns a small girl had already been cut. In response to this, the category H (for horror) was agreed in 1932, to indicate the potential unsuitability for children of the horror theme.
  • An ‘adults only’ category was increasingly seen as desirable, not only to protect children, but as an extension of the freedom of filmmakers to treat adult subjects in an adult fashion.

The 1950s

  • Controversial subjects on film were accommodated in the UK under the new X category, introduced in 1951 and incorporating the former advisory H category given to horror films. The X category excluded children under 16  but was considered sufficent to categorise many titles.
  • Laslo Benedek’s 1954 film The Wild One,was banned by the BBFC upon its release here and remained so (except for screenings in film societies where local councils overturned the BBFC’s decision) until 1967 when it was released with an X certificate (suitable for 16 year olds and above).

“The initial ban was prompted mostly by a fear that the very real problem of burgeoning juvenile delinquency, and a seemingly increasing lack of respect for authority, could only be aggravated by young people seeing this film.”

For more information about the BBFC’S history read booklets; examples older than 5 years ago are less relevant and significant in the exam that recent works.

‘Video Nasties’

The development of the video recorder created new anxieties about the home viewing of feature films. They become popular in the 80’s and legally, there was no requirement that videos should be rated, which meant that films that had not been approved by the BBFC or which were suitable for adults only, were falling into the hands of children.

The video recorder also enabled viewers to watch scenes out of context such as scenes of rape and killing. This led to the Video Recordings Act 1984 makes it offence for the video work to be supplied if it has not been rated, or to supply a rated work to a person under the age specified in the certificate. A notorious example is The Evil Dead by Sam Raimi.

How is a film or DVD is rated?

  • The Examiner’s daily programme consists of a combination of film and DVD material.
  • Examiners normally view DVD submissions on their own – called solo viewing. A large proportion of works suitable for solo viewing include episodes from TV series.
  • Films for cinema release are rated in teams of two.

Examiners with linguistic skills are programmed to view these works.

  • general context – plot, characters, outline of individual scenes
  • timings of key moments, including camera angles, type of shots, on- and off-screen moments
  • bad language, sex and drug references and so on

Most decisions are straightforward and are based on the BBFC’s published Guidelines, which is revised every five years; last in 2014.

The distributor can request a specific age rating, which the solo Examiner or team will take into consideration, but such a request does not determine the final decision.

Cuts may be suggested to meet the category request, and the decision will be ultimately made by the distributor.

‘The BBFC Guidelines are the basis for all ratings decisions.”

The Guidelines outline, for the public and for the industry, how we work and what our decision rationales would be.


  • Is the material in conflict with the law, or has been through the commission of a criminal offence.
  • The BBFC determines the given work whether it may harm at the age rating concerned. This includes harm towards the behaviour of potential viewers and “moral harm” by the effects of violence, degrading a potential viewer’s sense of empathy, encouraging a dehumanised view of others etc. etc. etc.






“Adults are free to choose their own entertainment.”






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As part of my research into similar media products concerning magazine film reviews, I thoroughly analysed the medium which can be seen in this blog here however, this was very much an individual exercise to expand my knowledge. In order for Jannath, my teammate, and I to learn more about film reviews, we found a vast range of examples to look at together. You can see us doing this above.

After understanding the conventional composition of the reviews, we put together a draft featuring two photos and a layout that drew inspiration from the products we studied. The video below illustrates parts of my construction process of Adobe’s PhotoShop and shows a number of problems I had to overcome to get the high quality review I wanted. You’ll see how I tackled getting the right font and how I correctly arranged the different elements in the piece.

After many attempts towards this layout, I found that it wasn’t what I wanted. It didn’t quite capture the mood or tone of my film, Screen Three, which film reviews tend to do. I thoroughly experimented and continued to contact Jannath through Facebook to discuss the successes and failures of the piece. Facebook works as an effective and accessible way to send images and receive response and you can see below. During the editing processes when I wasn’t with Jannath I could easily update her with what I had in mind and we could evaluate together to get the best result possible.



Below is a video showing the composition of our film review. The clip reveals every element that we pieced together to create our review such as the images, the different layers of text and the shapes involved.


The content of a text does not always distinguish its suitable age certificate given by the BBFC. The content’s presentation, meaning and contextual relevance had to be considered. the_bunny_game The Bunny Game (Adam Rehmeier, 2012) is a US film about a prostitute being kidnapped, raped and violently assaulted by a trucker. The BBFC rejected the film and it is yet to receive a certificate. The violence towards the female protagonist is relentless in the piece. The BBFC’s Guidelines clearly set out the BBFC’s serious concerns about the portrayal of violence, especially when the violence is sexual or sexualised, but also when depictions “portray or encourage callousness towards victims, aggressive attitudes, or taking pleasure in the pain or humiliation of others.” The Bunny Game was seen to eroticise or endorse sexual assult through the emphasis on the woman’s nudity. The “lack of explanation of the events depicted, and the stylistic treatment,” may encourage some viewers to enjoy and share the man’s callousness and the pleasure he takes in the woman’s pain. The content may be titillating. In these ways, the film would be inconsistent to the Guidelines and would also risk potential harm within the terms of the Video Recordings Act, and would accordingly be unacceptable to the public. Next up is Lars Von Trier’s Antichrist (2009) which received an 18 certificate despite its horrific content. So what’s the difference between the content in this piece and The Bunny Game? Well the BBFC saw the violence in Von Trier’s film as “turn off” material, unlike Rehmeier’s. The “adult theme” of the movie helped contextualise the violence and its tone proved the violence not to be simulative. The_Human_Centipede_2_(Full_Sequence)_2On the other hand, Tom Six’s notorious sequel The Human Centipede 2 was rejected for the villain’s visual enjoyment of violence. Although audiences may be repulsed, the film focuses on his pleasure and shows how a horror film can inspire and encourage terrible and violent acts. Similarly, in The Killer Inside Me (Michael Winterbottom, 2010) viewers see sexual violence that becomes pleasurable to the characters involved. The “spanking” scene, for example, shows the characters’ enjoyment of the violent acts shown which the BBFC does not consider suitable. Despite this, it’s interesting to note that a film as horrific as Srdjan Spasojevic’s A Serbian Film is released. The child molestation involved in the piece and the sexual violence has lead to the film to be banned in large areas of the world. For example, it is banned in Norway on account of sexual representation of children and extreme violence in a fictional medium. One of the few modern-day movies to be banned in the country since Ichi The Killer (2001) and Grotesque (2009).The film was banned in Brazil but was supposed to be legally screened for the first time in the city of Maceió, Alagoas on a special Cine Sesi dawn screening in October 1, 2011; however, the company was forbidden to exhibit it by a legal action only a day before the screening. The film holds a record of 19 minutes of cuts in the United States in order to achieve an NC-17 rating. However, the film remains avaible on DVD as an 18 in the UK due to it being considered as “serious work” which is not intended to arouse. Behind the Candelabra (2013) starring Matt Damon and Michael Douglas was on the borderline of 15 and 18. The film’s focus on grooming gave the piece its edge, especially since it was based on historical record. The piece by Steven Soderberg, was given a 15 rating. Drug use in films is a big concern for the BBFC however, films such as Pulp Fiction, Trainspotting and Scarface have somewhat of a big focus on drugs but still remain available uncut. 2008 saw the release of David Gordon Green’s Pineapple Express and the representation of drugs meant the film’s theatrical edit had to be cut. The film showed young people enjoying smoking marijuana and this positive representation is highly frowned upon. We often see a negative portrayal of drugs and see their tragic effects however, here the BBFC criticised the piece. With the scene cut, the film appeared in cinemas as a 15 but the scene was restored in the DVD as an 18. WiB-Composite 2009’s The Woman in Black by James Watkins starred Harry Potter star, Daniel Radcliffe. Due to this actor that heavily attracted young audience members, filmmakers were keen to get a 12A rating despite the frightening content. The film would appear as a 15 uncut however, 6 seconds being taken out as well as a remix of the soundtrack (quite rare) lead the BBFC to release the film at the age restriction which the filmmakers hoped for. The Women in Black and Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan sparked up a controversy of complaints due to their age rating. While the rating, the main female actresses (Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis) and the high-achieving ballet school appealed to teenage girls, the sexual content was arguably unsuitable for that particular audience. Nevertheless, the film was released in cinemas and on DVD as a 15. max1304981629-frontback-cover


Let’s talk about the work on media regulation which are class has been going through in the past few days. First of all, what is media regulation? The media, whose regulation is being discussed, is the public means of mass communication, especially in the press, radio, music, television and film. Regulation refers to the whole process of “control or guidance, by established rules and procedures,” applied by authorities. “Public interest”, the “common well-being” or “general welfare”, is the goal for the regulation but also serves the needs of the market or for reasons of technical efficiency (for instance, setting technical standards). Regulation can be internal as well as external. TITLE 1 Media regulation begins with the application of the “printing press to book production from the mid-15th century onwards in Western Europe”. Content was regulated to combat heresy or dissent. This led very widely to licensing of all printers and/or the “requirement for advance approval by church authorities for texts to be published.” In Western Europe and North America, the history of media regulation concerned struggles against restrictions of publication between the 16th and 19th centuries which waged in the name of political freedom and human rights. For most of the world during the modern era, repressive and punitive media regulation in the interest of state power has been the norm. The invention of new media, electric telegraph, then the telephone and wireless and then public radio, lead to national laws being created concerning technical requirements (e.g. radio frequency requirements). During the 20th century, the cinema film was also established, typically regulated locally for reasons of safety (fire) and/or content (moral standards). TITLE 2 “Regulation by its very nature sets limits to freedom, which is the most basic principle of modern society.” There is no single reason why we should regulate and often the surface reasons conceal other purposes (e.g. the interests of the state).

  • The management of what is arguably the key economic resource in the emerging “information society”
  • The protection of public order and support for instruments of government and justice
  • The protection of individual      and sectional rights and interests that might be harmed by unrestricted      use of public means of communication.
  • The promotion of the      efficiency and development of the communication system, by way of      technical standardization, innovation, connectivity and universal      provision.
  • The promotion of access,      freedom to communicate, diversity and universal provision as well      as securing communicative and cultural ends chosen by the people      for themselves.
  • Maintaining conditions for      effective operation of free markets in media services,      especially competition and access, protection of consumers, stimulating      innovation and expansion.

TITLE 3 take 2

Can everyone be treated the same?

Does the idea of “forbidden fruit” worsen this idea?

Does regulation infringe liberties?

Who decides what regulations are made?

What is one trying to achieve by regulating?

How do you regulate?

How do the “gate-keepers” make their decisions?


Managing time is vital in filmmaking. Setting yourself and your team an appropriate time scale to do things is something to take much care in. In making Screen Three, I kept this mind and continued to organised my time strategically and so the production process would go with any problems. peter emailLets begin with our first scene. Emailing was key in communicating between myself and Red Lion Theatre which was the location for our shoot. I first contacted Peter Glanfield, an actor at the theatre, who gave me plenty of advice about when to propose a day to shoot. This worked to my advantage in that I could more easily organise with the Chairman, Shirley Moffat. shirley email2 After a series of emails with her I was able to secure not only a date and time, but also an allotted time for when our people could be in the theatre. Because I was weary of problems for the shoot, I asked for an hour more than what I thought I might need to ensure we’d get the film done and the quality of our work wasn’t reduced because of any pressures concerning time. Also, I knew it would take a while to clear up the popcorn and pack away all the equipment (cameras, tripods, lights, projectors etc) and so having this spare time really helped. actors date Whilst all this was being organised, I simultaneously organised with my actors to ensure everyone could make it. I contacted all my actors in a group chat using Facebook to make for a more efficient process. scene 2 scene 2 2 With the second scene which we intended to be shot in our school’s car park, I contacted the Deputy Head Master and after a series of emails, we managed to come to a date that worked for everyone and didn’t interfere with any of the events going on at school. I also arranged this with the school’s caretaker who allowed me to have power whilst on the shoot. Time really wasn’t an issue for our film after it was organised. Taking care in carefully managing time in pre-production can really boost the quality of a piece since it isn’t undermined by time issues. It’s something easy to organise and if you want your film to be successful, time must be addressed right.


The purpose of a film review in a magazine is to objectively analyse the subject matter and give readers a fair judgement and assessment for them to learn from however, these reviews can be presented in a number of ways.


Above is one I analysed of Bruce Hunt’s “The Cave”. It’s a double page spread, which is what our review is intended to be, and has a variety of elements that define it as a magazine’s review which are highlighted above. Along with the critical body of the review, many things are added in to visually aid the viewer and to catch their attention such as the large image on the right and the star rating system.

a-serious-man-annotatedIf you look at this analysis, many of the things highlighted in the review of “The Cave” are also featured in this review of “A Serious Man”. There’s a formula to these texts that needs to be added into my own work.

total review

Above you’ll find two magazine reviews from the same magazine. The differences are the film and the time of publication. Whilst the “Pirates of the Caribbean” text was published in 2007, the Spidey-flick appeared three years earlier in 2004. Total Film has definitely changed its style and appearance but my point is, the content of the reviews haven’t differed significantly. The red lines illustrate the similarities between the two pieces despite their contrasting appearances. This goes to show the formula involved in film reviews.


Twilight layout 2It might be interesting to note from these reviews featuring pieces from the “Twilight” saga that the reviewing magazine has a lot of control over the appearance of the film. The two films being discussed are visually similar in style however, they are presented very differently by Empire Magazine and First Magazine. You can see this contrast above. While the review must emulate the style of the film this goes to show it can be manipulative.