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Smet calls for a uniform, modernized film rating system

wednesday -
Kabinet Smet

Minister Pascal Smet makes a strong plea for updating the laws on motion picture rating and for developing a unified system shared by all communities. 'The Joint Communities' Commission (COCOM), the Flemish Community, the French-speaking Community and the German-speaking Community should work together and take joint decisions for Belgium,' said Mr Smet today in the Social Affairs Committee of the COCOM.

As a result of the VIth state reform, motion picture rating moved from being a federal competence to the communities. In Brussels, these powers are held by ministers Pascal Smet and Céline Frémault. Both of them want all communities to develop and share a uniform system. 'It is important to use the same Red Carpet labels in all communities', said Mr Smet. 'I am totally opposed to the idea of a movie being rated differently depending on whether it is projected on the silver screen in Eupen, Verviers, Ghent or Brussels.'

Moreover, Smet says urgent action is required to modernize the Parental Guidance classification system. Rating is currently based on the law of September 1st, 1920 that prohibits the entrance to movie theatres to youngsters under the age of 16. 'This law is hopelessly obsolete', says Mr Smet. 'We need clear and transparent product information. The working methods used by the current rating commission are completely outdated.'

Smet intends to update the film rating system by involving the users themselves, the film distributors, educators and other stakeholders. In the coming months he will present a project. In Smet's opinion, the new system should not be restricted to cinema theatres only.

'The traditional flea-pit is by no means the only place were 16-year olds can go and catch a movie. Nowadays, they also use other media, such as DVDs, Netflix, video on demand (VOD) or the worldwide web', said Mr Smet. 'Hence it is important for those new media to provide clear, unequivocal information on film rating in order to warn the public.'