Netflix to add BBFC age certificates for content
James R | On 14, Mar 2019
Netflix is teaming up with the BBFC to add the organisation’s familiar age certificates to its online content.
In today’s streaming age, one of the most pressing concerns for parents and families is making sure that children aren’t viewing anything that’s inappropriate for their age. New research by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) and the Video Standards Council Rating Board (VSC) has revealed that almost 80 per cent of parents are concerned about children seeing inappropriate content on video on-demand or online games platforms. The research also shows that 90 per cent of parents believe that it is important to display age ratings when downloading or streaming a film online.
Netflix so far has used its own rating systems, including G for Guidance and M for Mature, but these don’t directly map onto BBFC certificates in a way that’s always clear. Indeed, 92 per cent of parents, according to the BBFC research, think it’s important for video on-demand platforms to show the same type of age ratings they would expect at the cinema or on DVD and Blu-ray.
As a result, Netflix will produce BBFC age ratings for content using a manual tagging system along with an automated rating algorithm, with the BBFC taking up an auditing role. Netflix and the BBFC will work together to make sure Netflix’s classification process produces ratings are consistent with the BBFC’s Classification Guidelines for the UK.
The Video Recordings Act requires that the majority of video works and video games released on physical media must be classified by the BBFC or the VSC prior to release. While there is no equivalent legal requirement that online releases must be classified, the BBFC has been working with VOD services since 2008, and the VSC has been working with online games platforms since 2003. The Best Practice Guidelines aim to build on the good work that is already happening, and both authorities are now calling for the online industry to work with them in 2019 and beyond to better protect children.
The BBFC and the VSC have joined forces to respond to calls from parents and are publishing a joint set of Best Practice Guidelines to help online services deliver what UK consumers want. The Best Practice Guidelines will help online platforms work towards greater and more consistent use of trusted age ratings online. The move is supported by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport as part of the Government’s strategy to make the UK the safest place to be online. This includes recommending the use of consistent and more comprehensive use of BBFC age labelling symbols across all VOD services, and PEGI symbols across online games services, including additional ratings info and mapping parental controls to BBFC age ratings and PEGI ratings.
The voluntary Guidelines are aimed at VOD services offering video content to UK consumers via subscription, purchase and rental, but exclude pure catch-up TV services like iPlayer, ITV Hub, All4, My 5 and UKTV Player.
The self-ratings pilot with Netflix will run for a year, as part of the BBFC’s push to open up its classifications scheme in innovative new ways. The goal is to work towards 100 per cent coverage of BBFC age ratings across the Netflix platform.
Mike Hastings, Director of Editorial Creative at Netflix, says: “The BBFC is a trusted resource in the UK for providing classification information to parents and consumers and we are excited to expand our partnership with them. Our work with the BBFC allows us to ensure our members always press play on content that is right for them and their families.”
David Austin, Chief Executive of the BBFC, adds: “We are fully committed to helping families chose content that is right for them, and this partnership with Netflix will help us in our goal to do just that. By partnering with the biggest streaming service, we hope that others will follow Netflix’s lead and provide comprehensive, trusted, well understood age ratings and ratings info, consistent with film and DVD, on their UK platforms. The partnership shows how the industry are working with us to find new and innovative ways to deliver 100 per cent age ratings for families.”