Page last updated at 17:43 GMT, Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Cage-fighting video curbs sought by MP

Andrew Dismore speaks out in the Commons: from BBC Democracy Live

A legal loophole which allows films showing cage-fighting or self-mutilation to be sold to children must be closed, MPs have heard.

DVDs and videos with such content can be sold under current law without an age classification, as long as they are about sport or music.

Labour MP Andrew Dismore said this caused confusion among parents and could harm children.

His parliamentary bill will now be heard again next month.

Under the Video Recordings Act of 1984, videos and DVDs primarily concerned with sport, religion or music can be given an E certificate - meaning they are exempt from classification.

'Consumer confusion'

This allows sexual content short of full sexual activity and violence short of "gross" levels to be included without an age rating.

Mr Dismore said responsible video distributors still asked the British Board of Film Classification to give such films a certificate, in an effort to help parents and children. But others did not do this.

Mr Dismore told the Commons: "This lack of a level playing field only serves to add to consumer confusion.

"The parent looking through a shelf of music or fighting videos, and seeing some of which are rated 15 or 18, but some of which are marked E for exempt, is likely, reasonably, to draw the conclusion that the E video is suitable for young children.

"Otherwise, surely, the parent would assume that it would be classified."

Self mutilation

Mr Dismore, MP for Hendon, said that among products given an E-rating was the cage-fighting DVD UFC Best of 2007, containing close-ups of bloody and sustained head blows, some in slow motion.

Other exemptions included Motley Crue - Greatest Video Hits, a music video featuring topless lap dancing.

Another was Slipknot - 10th Anniversary DVD, featuring images of the aftermath of self-mutilation carried out by two teenage girls who have carved the name Slipknot into their arm and torso respectively.

The Conservatives called last month called for the law to be redrawn to eradicate such exemptions.

'Properly labelled'

Mr Dismore is calling for classifications to be introduced where E-certificate videos and DVDs contain images of concern.

A British Board of Film Classification spokeswoman said: "We believe that it is important that material which will be attractive to young audiences should be properly labelled to enable parents to know that their children are protected from inappropriate material."

Mr Dismore's bill was passed by MPs, meaning it can go to a second reading debate in the Commons on 26 February.

An oversight in the Video Recordings Act means that it has no legal weight.

A government bill is going through Parliament at present in an effort to remedy that but this does not address the exemptions mentioned by Mr Dismore.

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