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United Kingdom/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation  

5.3.6 Film, video and photography

Legislation for the cinema industry in the United Kingdom goes back to 1909, when the Cinematograph Act was passed providing for the licensing of exhibition premises and safety of audiences. The emphasis on safety has been maintained through the years in other enactments, such as the Celluloid and Cinematograph Film Act 1922, Cinematograph Act 1952 and the Fire Precautions Act 1971 - the two latter having been consolidated in a key piece of legislation, the Cinemas Act 1985. The Cinematograph (Amendment) Act 1982, which applied certain licensing requirements to pornographic cinema clubs, was also consolidated in the 1985 Act.

The Sunday Entertainments Act 1932, amended by the Sunday Cinema Act 1972 and the Cinemas Act 1985, regulated the opening and use of cinema premises on Sundays. The 1932 Act also established a Sunday Cinematograph Fund for "encouraging the use and development of cinematograph as a means of entertainment and instruction". This was how the British Film Institute was originally funded.

The financing of the British film industry has long been the subject of specific legislation. The Cinematograph Films Act 1957 established the British Film Fund Agency which, in turn, was responsible for making payments to British filmmakers, the Children's Film Foundation, the National Film Finance Corporation, the British Film Institute and towards training film-makers. The Film Levy Finance Act 1981 consolidated the provisions relating to the Agency and the exhibitors' levy. The Agency was wound up in 1988.

The British Film Institute Act 1949 allows for grants of money from Parliament to be made to the Institute.

The Video Recordings Act 1984 controls the distribution of video recordings with the aim of restricting the depiction or simulation of human sexual activity and gross violence.

Classification certificates for the public exhibition of films are issued by the British Board of Film Classification.

Chapter published: 15-04-2011

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