The mandate of the Film and Publication Board is to regulate the creation, production, possession and distribution of films, games and certain publications to-

  1. provide consumer advice to enable adults to make informed viewing, reading and gaming choices, both for themselves and for children in their care;
  2. protect children from exposure to content that can be potentially disturbing, harmful or inappropriate for children below a specified age; protect children from premature exposure to adult experiences, and
  3. make the use of children in and the exposure of children to pornography punishable.

In addition, consideration during classification has to adhere to various legal and regulatory frameworks including, but not limited to, the Films and Publications Act, Promotion of Administrative Justice Act and the Constitution of South Africa.

In making a classification decision, the best interest of children are paramount, and must aim to strike a reasonable balance between competing rights and interest as set out in the Bill of Rights. The classification decision is therefore not taken lightly as the Film and Publication Board is accountable to the general public.

The guiding principles of the classification decision in determining and assigning of appropriate age ratings and consumer advisories must consider the context, impact and release format of the material.

The process of classification entail constituting a Classification Committee consisting of three members representative of the larger South African society in its racial, linguistic, gender and age categories.

Whilst viewing the content of classifiable materials from beginning to end, the Committee applies the Classification Guidelines of 2014 to assess the overall impact of the themes in its context and within the genre of the materials.

The Classification Guidelines are formulated through a public consultative process and consider empirical research in determining what is suitable for children at specific stages of development. It is the ultimate intention of the Board to ensure that children, especially the younger ones are not exposed to content they are not yet able to comprehend.

In addition, the Committee assesses the classifiable elements in the material that would warrant the consumer advise being criminal techniques ‘CT’, substance-abuse ‘D’, horror ‘H’, imitative acts and techniques ‘IAT’, language ‘L’, nudity ‘N’, prejudice ‘P’, sexually-related activities and sexual conduct ‘S’, sexual violence ‘SV’ and violence ‘V’; with voluntary elements of blasphemy ‘B’ and photo or pattern sensitivity, motion sickness and reactions to low frequency sound ‘PPS’.

The impact of the classifiable elements is assessed on a sliding scale from none present (least restrictive age rating of A) to very strong (most restrictive age rating of 18); presumptively harmful ‘X18’, and material that would result in refused classification ‘XX’.

All the above is taken into account to assess the cumulative impact of the elements and themes contained in the content of the material as a whole to determine the final age-rating and consumer advisories.

Members of the Public may contact the Film and Publication Board to enquire, compliment or lay a complaint by emailing us: or call our customer service centre on 0800 000 555.

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