Film censorship “in chaos”, says Foster

As the BBC reports:

Retailers who sell violent video games and 18-rated DVDs to children cannot be prosecuted because of a legal blunder 25 years ago. Dozens of prosecutions under a 1984 Act have been dropped because the government of the day failed to notify the European Commission about the law. But previous prosecutions will stand, according to the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS).

Lib Dem shadow culture, media and sport secretary Don Foster was quick to react to the news:

The Conservative’s incompetence when they were in Government has made laws designed to prevent video piracy and protect children from harmful DVDs unenforceable and thrown film censorship into chaos. This must be a massive embarrassment to the Tories, especially as David Cameron was the special advisor to the Home Secretary in 1993 when the law was amended. Until the problems have been overcome we must hope that legitimate retailers will observe the spirit of the act to protect our children from violent and explicit DVDs and videogames.”

I can understand why Don has gone on the attack on this (though I can’t help feeling trying to pin some blame on David Cameron is just a little bit cheeky) – but, surely, this is an administrative error, and the blame must lie with those civil servants responsible for ensuring the laws are correctly processed?

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  • simon mcgrath 25th Aug '09 - 3:30pm

    Why should Brussels have to apporve this domestic legisaltion anyway?

  • Film censorship in chaos? Great! Now let’s get rid of it! We abolished theatre censorship 42 years ago, and we have never had formal censorship of the written word. Why do we need it for films and videos?

    Don Foster says he is keen to protect “children” (including 16 and 17 year-olds, presumably?) from films they can see on television, but shouldn’t a liberal be more concerned about the fundamental human right of those same “children” to watch and read what they like?

    “Children” can quite legally watch “18” rated films on the box, and they can equally legally go to a theatre and see “Oh Calcutta!” or walk into a bookshop and purchase copies of “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” and “Last Exit to Brooklyn”.

    Moreover, the filthiest pornography imaginable is available freely on the internet for all to see. Don’t the people to whom Don is evidently pandering realise that the battle against freedom of expression in the arts has finally been lost?

    Yes, there are issues about protecting the vulnerable from exploitation, and about exposing young children to inappropriate material. But don’t pretend that the Video Recordings Act is designed to do either of those.

  • Ruth Bright 25th Aug '09 - 7:35pm

    Let’s abolish censorship oh except for those women’s magazines which airbrush cellulite oh dear me yes…..

  • Andrew Suffield 27th Aug '09 - 12:33pm

    Every time something like this comes up, I wish I had the funding to put up billboards around the country that simply say:

    “Your teenage kids are having sex.

    So did you.

    Get over it.”

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