Film and Publication Board Callsheet Ratings classification guidelines
April 16, 2019

The FPB Finalise their Classification and Rating Guidelines


After much discussion and input, the Film and Publication Board (FPB) have reviewed and gazetted their Classification Guidelines.

The rigorous review process is only undertaken every 5 years, with the intention of talking to the needs and values of the South African community – not an easy task considering the diversity of our social landscape.

“A set of guidelines that are well researched and debated provides a tool for the FPB to standardise and quality assure the ratings and advisories that it gives to films, games and certain publications. The guidelines are indeed one of our most important tools in carrying out our assigned duty to guide consumers and protect children from exposure to harmful material,”

Dr Maria Motebang, FPB CEO

In order to ensure that an inclusive approach was taken, nearly 20 000 South Africans submited their input. Included were special interest groups, distributors and stakeholders in the film and gaming space, as well as the general public.

“An inclusive process might take us longer to complete, but we are confident that, having taken the discussion to all 9 Provinces of the country and having engaged with a wide stakeholder base, we can confidently implement the new guidelines,”

Dr Maria Motebang, FPB CEO

Insights were also gathered from legal developments in SA, technology changes in the content dissemination space and child development theories. The discussion paper was subjected to a first discussion with the public, with inputs received factored into draft guidelines, which were, again, taken back to the public in 2018 and eventually submitted to the FPB Council and the Minister of Communications for approval.

The public and stakeholders encouraged the FPB to

  • Guard against adding additional classifiable elements that would overcomplicate the symbols used and make it harder for the public to remember;
  • To reduce or simplify the age rating categories;
  • To make blasphemy a mandatory category when assigning classifications and to include more definitions.

Some Key Changes to the Revised Guidelines

  • Definitions inserted for “action”, “prejudice” and “realistic”. The definition for “prejudice” was aligned to the current definition in the Equality Act.
  • “Blasphemy” finds a more apt placement under the “Prejudice” (P) element. This element protects the right to human dignity of groups represented within South African society, for example based on race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, language, etc.
  • Including “Blasphemy” under Prejudice (P) makes it a mandatory consumer advisory that should be provided for by Classifiers.
  • Changes in definition of Prejudice to reflect current definition as contained in the Equality Act.
  • “7-9PG” and “10-12PG” were retained as they are relevant to entertainment and/or educational value.
  • Age category 10 removed as the impact levels are already factored in the 10 – 12 PG age category.

The revised Classification Guidelines, as well as the discussion paper used during the discussion of the review process, may be accessed via the Film and Publication Board website.