UK Government

Department for Culture, Media And Sport: Video Recordings Bill receives Royal Assent

Press Release   •   Jan 22, 2010 11:11 GMT

Sanctions against those who unlawfully sell unclassified or age-restricted DVDs, videos or video games may once again be enforced after the Video Recordings Bill received Royal Assent earlier today.

The Bill repeals and revives the Video Recordings Act 1984 (VRA), restoring the public protection provided by a robust video classification system. It sets out the statutory requirement for videos, DVDs and some video games to be classified and age rated by the British Board of Film Classification. The legislation also sets out various criminal offences in the UK relating to the supply of this material.

Siôn Simon, Minister for the Creative Industries said:

“DVDs and video games are hugely important forms of entertainment for many families. It is essential that children are protected from inappropriate and harmful material and the classification system introduced in the Video Recording Act is a well understood and trusted guide to help people choose what they watch.

“The Government has acted swiftly to make sure that the powers within the Act to prevent sales of classified or unclassified material to anyone, regardless of age, are enforceable. I am grateful to those reputable retailers who have continued to act responsibly during the passage of the Bill.”

The Video Recordings Bill was fast tracked through Parliament, reflecting the importance of making the VRA enforceable again.

Notes to Editors

1. During preparatory work for the Digital Economy Bill, it came to light that the classification and labeling requirements set out in the 1984 Act fall under the provisions of the Technical Standards and Regulations Directive, (Directive 83/189/EEC). The purpose of the Directive is to facilitate the free movement of goods in the EU. Since national laws and regulations on goods may constitute an obstacle to free movement the Directive establishes a ‘standstill period’ of three months during which member states must notify draft legislation to the Commission and other EU members before it can take legal effect.

2. Because that notification was not carried out in 1984 as required, the Act had to be re-enacted in order to make the Act enforceable against individuals in the UK courts.

3. The Bill was notified to the European Commission on 10 September 2009 and the three month notification period expired on 11 December 2009. The Bill was introduced on 15 December, the earliest possible date after the expiry of the notification period.

4. All of the offences under the VRA, except section 13, will be fully enforceable again after Royal Assent of the Bill and the completion of the legalities  in  connection with  labelling Regulations. Section 13 of the VRA concerns the offence of not complying with labelling Regulations. The new labelling Regulations will be made, laid and come into force within the next week and therefore section 13 will be fully operational once that is done. The DCMS website will be updated when the Regulations come into force.

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