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Film and Publication Board Draws Up Classification Guidelines

April 10, 2019

Department of Communications

10 April 2019

Guidelines for the classification of films, interactive computer games and certain publications have been published.

The Film and Publication Board (FPB) published the guidelines in Notice 539 in Government Gazette 42380.

The Films and Publications Act stipulates that certain films, games, publications and online content need to the classified by the FPB.

Distribution is then subject to the conditions imposed by the FPB.

“‘Distribution’ includes screening in public, selling, hiring out, offering or keeping for sale or hire, handing, or exhibiting such content to a person under the age of 18 years in certain circumstances, and the failure to take reasonable steps to regulate access to films, games or certain publications.”

The act provides that the possession and distribution of child pornography is a criminal offence.

Sexually explicit content that is classified X18 cannot be distributed to persons under the age of 18 unless the FPB rules that it amounts to a bona fide documentary, is of scientific, literary or artistic merit, or is on a matter of public interest.

“The purpose of classification is to provide consumer advice to enable individuals to make informed viewing, reading and gaming choices for themselves and for children in their care; and to protect children from exposure to disturbing, and harmful contents and from premature exposure to adult experiences.”

The FPB is responsible for films exhibited at cinemas, DVDs, Blu Rays, videos on demand, mobile content (in so far as it does not amount to broadcast content) and the internet.

A list of classifiable elements is provided.

The guidelines intend to allow for the classification of a film, game or publication in accordance with certain rights including the right to freedom of expression, right of access to information, right of children to be protected against maltreatment, neglect, abuse or degradation, right to freedom of security, which includes being protected from unsolicited exposure, right to equality and the right to human dignity.

The guidelines focus on films and trailers, games and publications.

They come into effect three months after the date of publication.