Why Classification Ratings?
The regulatory landscape for films and videos in Singapore, prior to 1991, was basic. There was only a single-tier system whereby films and videos were either approved for release or disallowed. Films had to be edited to suit the single-tier system.
Things changed dramatically on 1st July 1991 when film classification was introduced. There were three classification ratings: G (General), PG (Parental Guidance) and R18 (Restricted to 18 years and above).
The introduction of R18 was meant to provide more choice for adults.
A series of modifications to the classification system took place after 1991, leading to the current multi-faceted, consumer-friendly ratings system.
When R18 was introduced, it led to concerns over an influx of sex-exploitative films within the first month of the classification system’s inception. The rating was modified to R(A) or Restricted Artistic, to signal that only films of artistic merit would be allowed, and the age limit was raised to 21 years.
In 1993, a new rating, NC16 (No Children under 16), was introduced to protect children from viewing films thematically unsuitable for them and to bridge the gap between PG and R21.
In March 2004, the film classification system was revised to include an M18 (Mature 18) category to provide more choice for young adults. For the first time, a comprehensive rating system was introduced, from G to R21. The year also saw Consumer Advice
introduced to provide information on the content of the films. This would allow parents and adults to make more informed film-viewing decisions.
Video classification was introduced on 1 July 2004 to mirror the film classification system. The only difference was that the highest rating was M18. As such, videos are currently classified up to M18 while films for theatrical release are classified up to R21.
On 15 July 2011, PG13 which was a recommendation of the Censorship Review Committee 2010 was introduced. This rating serves as an intermediate rating in the PG category which covers a wide range of content catering to both young and old.
The PG13 rating helps to indicate to parents that the content in the film is more suitable for an older teenage audience. This allows for informed choice. It also helps parents in supervising their young children in the selection of films. PG13 is an advisory rating. Parents exercise their discretion as to whether they would want their younger children to watch a PG13 film.
With the introduction of PG13, there are now six classification ratings.
Click to view more information on the Classification & Vetting Process of Films and Videos. Note that not all videos are classified by the BFC. To find out which videos are exempt from classification, please click here.
Considerations in Classification
When classifying content, classifiers look at the theme, content, presentation and impact of the film as a whole while taking the following factors into consideration:
The description of each of the classification categories and the indication of the suitable audience in terms of age can be found in the Classification Guidelines. Please click here
to download the Film Classification Guidelines.
In October 2003, the BFC introduced sequential dual ratings for films, which gives film distributors the option to screen two versions of the same movie, one after another to enable them to reach different sectors of the populations.
To avoid confusing the public, the film distributor has to screen the second version of the movie at least one week after the first version’s run has ended. Click here
for more information on the Dual Ratings Policy.
Meanwhile, classification guidelines also apply to additional supplements or bonus materials that may be found alongside the film in a Blu Ray, DVD, VCD or bonus materials that accompany a film or video. Examples of supplements or bonus materials are short films, trailers, deleted scenes or a behind-the-scenes segment into the making of a film.
There are instances where the supplements or bonus materials may contain elements such as sex, nudity, drug use or violence, resulting in a higher rating than the film.
For example, the film “Kung Fu Panda” is a family entertainment that is rated PG. However, if the bonus materials or supplements found in the DVD is rated NC16, the rating reflected on the DVD packaging will be the higher rating. As a consumer, you can see the difference between the rating of the film and that of the bonus materials by referring to the consumer advice that is found on the packaging.
Please click here to view an example of packaging.