Written by Consumer Protection BC’s Motion Picture Classification department

Often people don’t realize that we review and classify motion pictures that are exhibited in BC. We have a team of dedicated staff at Consumer Protection BC who review motion pictures. The law that speaks to this is called the Motion Picture Act. The fundamental public service of motion picture classification in BC has remained intact since its inception. Its practice, however, has evolved with changes in community standards and advances in education and technology.

The beginning – 1913

The motion picture laws of 1913 prevented the screening of any motion picture that might offer “evil suggestions to the minds of children.” At the same time, the law contained a cultural clause that required censors to give special consideration to motion pictures that made a positive contribution to the image and understanding of British Columbian society.

1960’s to 1990’s

By the 1960s, social attitudes began to challenge the traditional norms of the past. Motion picture censorship took on a smaller role realizing that the public would be best served by a system based on classification. The advent of home video technology in the 1980s inspired a change in public opinion. The explosion of pornographic videos brought on by this new medium garnered serious attention as citizens became concerned about sexual exploitation. There was a demand for motion picture regulation, and in 1986, the government updated the law to make clear the acceptable limits of adult sex videos. Both industry and the public applauded this action.

Late 1990’s

BC has been at the forefront for change over the years including the 1997 introduction of an adult category designated for artistic motion pictures that contain adult content (Restricted). This initiative has allowed artistic works to be released without the stigma and strict regulatory rules associated with adult sex motion pictures. 1997 was also the year that BC entered into an agreement with Saskatchewan so now they utilize our classification information.

Recent years

In 2007, Government transferred responsibility for administration of the Motion Picture Act to Consumer Protection BC. Today, our primary activity is empowering consumers to make educated choices by posting appropriate and detailed decision summaries on our website and social media. If you’re curious to get all new motion picture classifications, follow our Twitter account: @ConsumerProBC.

So, we hope you’ve learned something new today about motion pictures in BC with our brief history of the Motion Picture Act. You can visit our categories and advisories page on our website to find out the details on what each category means. You can also visit the classification search page to see the classification of a particular motion picture.


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And the Oscar goes to… the Restricted Cougar!