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Rapid increase in number of age ratings applied to online content – report

The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) has measured changes online (Daniel Law/PA)
The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) has measured changes online (Daniel Law/PA)

Age ratings are being increasingly applied to online content provided by platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime, a report has revealed.

In its annual report the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), responsible for ratings in the UK, has measured a rapid increase in the amount of online content classified.

In 2018 the BBFC gave 5,751 age ratings to online material, up around 60% from 3,489 in 2017, and only 127 in 2011.

Productions like Bird Box, Roma and  Black Mirror: Bandersnatch were all given BBFC ratings.

The BBFC has said it wants to protect families “whenever, wherever, and however” they are viewing content.

Of the online material assessed for the likes of Netflix and Amazon, the vast majority was rated 15, with 18-rated content a very small proportion. There were just 65 R18 ratings.

David Austin, BBFC chief executive, said: “In a fast-evolving media landscape, the BBFC’s core mission continues to be to help families and young people choose films, videos and websites that are right for them – whenever, wherever, and however they view them.

“In 2018 we carried out significant research – with more than 10,000 people to help us update our classification standards.”

Of the ratings given, 1,502 were 15-rated, with only 186 rated 18. The 12 classification was the second most frequently given.

The BBFC has said it rated 60% of Netflix’s UK content last year, and the organisations have a shared goal to rate 100% of its online material.

Netflix is to partner with the BBFC to classify its own content, based on BBFC guidelines, which the ratings authority believes could become a model for other platforms.

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