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Film: Licensing

Volume 487: debated on Thursday 29 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport on what grounds local licensing authorities may (a) amend the classification of a film classified by the British Board for Film Classification and (b) withhold a licence for a film to be shown. (252476)

The information requested is as follows:

(a) The only mandatory requirement imposed by the Licensing Act 2003 is the imposition of a condition to be included in the premises licence or club premises certificate requiring the admission of children to films to be restricted in accordance with the film classification given by the BBFC.

However, licensing authorities must also take into account the guidance issued under the Licensing Act which recommends that they should not duplicate the effort underpinning the BBFC’s classification, and only classify films themselves if there are good reasons for doing so.

The guidance is clear that children should not be allowed access to regulated entertainment ‘of a clearly adult or sexual nature’ and draws the licensing authorities’ attention to the BBFC’s classification scheme. The guidance recommends that:

(i) where the licensing authority itself is to make recommendations on the admission of children, the venue operator must submit the film to the licensing authority at least 28 days before it is to be shown to allow the licensing authority time to classify the film and ensure that the licence holder adheres to its own age restrictions;

(ii) the BBFC’s classification shall be shown on screen for at least five seconds before the film (or any trailers);

(iii) where a licensing authority recommends restriction of admission of children, visible notices should be displayed both inside and outside the venue.

(b) A licence or certificate for a film to be shown could be revoked or withdrawn on an application for review by an interested party (e.g. local resident or business) or responsible authority (e.g. police or local body with responsibility for child welfare) if the licence or certificate owner breached the mandatory or any additional conditions or acted in a way that contravened the objectives of the Licensing Act.