UK Government

Department for Culture, Media And Sport (National): Publication of Video Recordings Bill

Press Release   •   Dec 16, 2009 11:42 GMT

A fast track Bill to restore public protections around the supply and classification of age-rated films and video games is published today.

The Video Recordings Bill is designed to correct an anomaly that means the Video Recordings Act 1984 is not currently enforceable in UK courts.  The problem came to light in August 2009 when it was discovered there had been a failure to make a necessary technical notification to the European Commission before the 1984 Act became law.

Creative Industries Minister Siôn Simon said:

“This Bill is essential to ensure proper protection of the public from inappropriate content in video recordings and boxed video games.

“The purpose of the Bill is simply to repeal and revive the existing provisions of the Video Recordings Act 1984 in order to make the criminal offences in the 1984 Act enforceable.

“Since this historic problem emerged in the summer, retailers have shown a highly commendable sense of responsibility by continuing to observe the age ratings system on a voluntary basis.”

The Bill was introduced in the House of Commons today and is available at:http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2009-10/videorecordings.html

Notes to Editors

1. The Video Recordings Act (VRA) 1984 introduced a system of classification for video films and some video games and a series of offences concerning the supply of classified videos and video games to persons under certain ages. The VRA also contains offences concerning the supply of unclassified material.

2. During preparations for the Digital Economy Bill in August 2009, the Government became aware that the VRA 1984 was no longer enforceable in UK law because of a failure to notify the European Commission of the Act’s provisions in draft under the Technical Standards Directive.

3. The Bill was notified to the European Commission on 10 September 2009 and the three month notification period expired on 11 December 2009.  Subject to any comments from Member States, the notified provisions may then be brought into law after that date. The Government has introduced the Bill as fast-track legislation as soon as possible after the 11 December deadline in order to ensure that the important public protections contained in the 1984 Act can be enforced.

4. The Government plans to amend the VRA 1984 in the Digital Economy Bill to introduce a new system of classification for boxed video games.  The VRA 1984 cannot be amended until it has been revived by the Bill. Details of the Digital Economy Bill can be found athttp://interactive.bis.gov.uk/digitalbritain/digital-economy-bill/

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