British Censor to Change Swearing, Horror Guidelines

"Woman in Black" drew more complaints from British viewers than any other film in the last four years.
"Woman in Black" drew more complaints from British viewers than any other film in the last four years.
 CBS Films

LONDON -- Horror movies and cursing are at the top of the agenda for the British Board of Film Classification, as it prepares to revamp its guidelines on certifying movies.

The British censor body said Monday it would be looking more closely at scary movies and the impact of gore and "strong visuals" when considering how to certify submissions.

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The BBFC also said it plans to make some changes on strong language by being more lenient on swearing in films granted a "15" rating and more hard-line on movies seeking a "U" classification.

The changes follow a wide-ranging public consultation on the censor's systems and methods and involved responses from 10,000 people, with teenagers as well as parents taking part for the first time.

The BBFC consultation also noted the sexualization of young women in film and music videos as a major concern among the British public, while the content of some music promos and ease of accessibility to online pornography also raising red flags with the hoi polloi.

Other amendments to the organization's guidelines include giving greater weight to the theme and tone of films that are issued with parental guidance (PG) and those suitable for 12-year-olds and over (12A).

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Changes to the guidelines will come into force Feb. 24.

The organization admitted the 12A classification -- similar to the PG-13 in the U.S. -- continues to confuse the public. The BBFC pledged to work on clarifying the certification.

BBFC director David Cooke said regular public consultation on his organization's duties "ensures that we continue to be in step with what the public wants and expects in order to make sensible and informed viewing decisions."

But he also conceded there was "room for improvement," referring to the need to make the "very important" 12A certificate more lucid.

The BBFC also noted that its respondents largely agreed with the 12A certificate for 2012's The Woman in Black, starring Daniel Radcliffe, despite it being the most complained-about film of the past four years.

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