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EDITIONS
Thursday, 29 August, 2002, 12:26 GMT 13:26 UK
Film ratings for children relaxed
The new 12A rating
The new 12A will be an "advisory" rating
The 12 film certificate is to be replaced by the 12A in the biggest change to the film ratings system for more than a decade.

Children under the age of 12 will be allowed to watch 12-rated movies for the first time - but only if they are accompanied by an adult.


Parents know best what their children can deal with

Robin Duval
British Board of Film Classification
They will be let into films with a new 12A certificate, which will replace the current 12 rating and is intended to give parents the power to decide what their children can see.

The change follows controversy surrounding the 12 certificate given to blockbuster Spider-Man, when some parents and cinemas complained that the rating was too strict.

Other 12-rated films that would now be open to younger children include Titanic, Independence Day and Armageddon.

Spider-Man
Some parents complained when their children could not see Spider-Man
"We know that the development and maturity of children varies considerably and parents know best what their children can deal with," said Robin Duval, director of the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC).

"It is important, however, that young children have an adult with them in case they are disturbed by anything they may see."

It is the first major change to the ratings system since the 12 was introduced in 1989, and the first big decision for new BBFC president Sir Quentin Thomas.

The 12A certificate will be available for BBFC censors to use from Friday.

The criteria will be the same as the current 12 certificate - strong language, nudity and violence are allowed, but must be in context and sparingly used.

Research

The ratings issue hit headlines in June when several local councils overruled the BBFC's decision and let children into cinemas to see Spider-Man.

Film studio Sony is now planning to re-release Spider-Man as a 12A so those who could not see it before will now be able to.

But the BBFC said the introduction of the 12A is not in response to the Spider-Man furore, adding they have been carrying out research into the idea for two years.

A seven-week pilot scheme in Norwich and a nationwide survey found the public was in favour of a relaxing the rules - as long as conditions were attached, the BBFC said.

Consumer advice

The majority of people approved of the scheme if children had to be accompanied by an adult and more information about films were put on posters.

"We have been working closely with both the film distributors and the cinema exhibitors to ensure that consumer advice is in place before making the final decision to change to 12A," Mr Duval said.

"I am delighted to say that the film distributors are already putting consumer advice on posters and commercials for U, PG and 12 films."

Ratings similar to the 12A are already in place in most of Europe, the United States, Australia and Canada, Mr Duval added.

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 ON THIS STORY
Colin Kennedy, Editor of Empire magazine
"This is really about films like Spider-Man"

Talking PointTALKING POINT
Spider-Man was given a 12 certificate in the UKParent power
Your views on the 12A film certificate
See also:

29 Aug 02 | Entertainment
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01 Aug 02 | Entertainment
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