BFC: From Censors to Classifiers
The Board of Film Censors (BFC) comprises a chairman and a group of classifiers who classify films and videos submitted to the board, as governed under the Films Act. The chairman is Ms Chetra Sinnathamby.
The BFC classifies films, videos and video games based on content guidelines drawn up in consultation with the community and industry. These guidelines reflect the social norms and values of Singapore’s multi-racial society. The aim of classification is to protect the young while providing more choice for adults. This is done by providing a comprehensive rating system with consumer advice.
One misconception about the board is that its function is to edit films. Over the years, the BFC has moved away from censorship to classification. This means that the BFC views films and classifies them into age-appropriate ratings. Classification allows films to be suitably rated for different audiences . Video games classification, introduced in 2008, is also aimed at providing more choice for adults while protecting the young.
Learn more about Film & Video Classification or Video Game Classification.
How Classification Helps
Classification means that you can make an informed choice about the movie, video or videogame you are going to watch or play.
It is similar to checking the ingredients and nutritional values before you purchase any food or checking a label prior to buying a piece of clothing. When we buy toys, we check the advisory on the packaging to see if it is appropriate for the age of the child, and if it contains dangerous parts. Similarly, classification provides you with the information on a movie or game in form of ratings and consumer advice.
A teenager who is unable to stomach strong violence may wish to avoid a gory, violent flick while a parent may want to know if a teen romance is suitable for her 10-year old child; a person who finds bad language offensive may want to know in advance, if a dramatic film contains any coarse or crude language.
Consultation with the Community
Consultation is an important cornerstone of classification. The BFC is advised by Films Consultative Panel (FCP) to ensure that its rating decisions, guidelines and policies reflect community standards.
Greater involvement by the community not only contributes to more robust guidelines, but also enables the public to be better informed. Advisory panels are made up of individuals from different sectors of society including housewives, educationists, psychologists and business professionals.
The BFC also conducts focus groups and commissions public surveys to understand to broader community views about classification issues.
Co-regulation with the Industry
The BFC co-regulates with the film, video and video games industries in the classification process.
Examples of co-regulation include getting video distributors and video games companies to identify contents issues which lead to different classification ratings. Moving towards greater industry participation in regulation is a more practical way to clear content in a timely manner, without compromising on standards.
Self-regulation is also practised by the industry in the area of publicity materials, whereby companies decides on the marketing and publicity of their films, videos and video games, refering to the BFC only when in doubt.
Aside from co-regulation, the BFC consults the industry when reviewing its codes, guidelines and policies to ensure that its content guidelines are understood and acceptable by the industry.
A Day with the BFC
As part of its public education initiative, the BFC conducts monthly classification sessions for students and teachers at MDA. Each session consists of a presentation by a BFC classifier, with illustration of video clips, and opportunities for participants to ask questions about content classification.
For an opportunity to go behind the scenes, write in to the BFC with details of your name, school and the contact of a teacher or senior school representative to MDA Online Feedback.