British Government Will Let Manhunt 2 Decision Stand

March 16, 2008 -
On Friday GamePolitics reported that, following a months-long appeal process, the controversial Manhunt 2 had been cleared for sale in the U.K.

GamesIndustry.biz has added a bit to the saga, receiving word from the British government's Department for Culture, Media and Sport that it would not intervene in the Video Appeals Committee's ruling on the Manhunt 2 case. A spokesperson told GI.biz:
The classification of Manhunt 2 is a matter for the BBFC and the Video Appeals Committee. It is important to note that there is no conclusive evidence of any link between playing computer games and violent behaviour in real life...

The Prime Minister asked Dr Tanya Byron to lead a review to assess the effectiveness and adequacy of existing measures to help prevent children from being exposed to harmful or inappropriate material in videogames and on the internet, and to make recommendations for improvements or additional action. Dr Byron's review will be published shortly and Ministers will give careful consideration to any recommendations then.

Comments

Oh Erik - it's a pity that you don't feel that courts are independent of Government. Even in the USA, that's quite clearly the case. How else do you account for the impeachment process?

You say: "I disagree. And you have yet to say anything to change that opinion."

How about the fact that the board of the BBFC are not elected by the Prime Minister, the Cabinet or any part of the political party in power. Rather they are made of leading figures from the manufacturing and servicing sections of the film industry. Producers, distributors and exhibitors, it was thought, would be tempted to influence decisions, while manufacturers of equipment only care that the industry continues to thrive, and remains acceptable to the public.

All of this can be found in greater detail here and here.

Why are a bunch of people in the film industry allowed to rate videogames? Beats me. It's here that the BBFC really fall down. However, their independence from the executive branch of Government couldn't be clearer.

Seeing as you are the expert in such matters, when the BBFC, Ofcom, et al say they are independant reglatory bodies what are they proclaiming independance of?

Independence in those cases means that they are not subject to the preview of an overseeing concern, i.e. government regulation or corporate ownership.

@Monkeythumbs

"Oh Erik - it’s a pity that you don’t feel that courts are independent of Government. Even in the USA, that’s quite clearly the case. How else do you account for the impeachment process?"


The judiciary branch, the courts, are very much one of the three main branches of US government. I'm sorry to hear that if the courts in the UK are some kind of separate Judge Dredd deal with no ties to the government.

Also, impeachment is carried out by the government itself:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impeachment_in_the_United_States

Check and balances and all of that.

"How about the fact that the board of the BBFC are not elected by the Prime Minister, the Cabinet or any part of the political party in power. Rather they are made of leading figures from the manufacturing and servicing sections of the film industry. Producers, distributors and exhibitors, it was thought, would be tempted to influence decisions, while manufacturers of equipment only care that the industry continues to thrive, and remains acceptable to the public."

How they got there is irrelevant compared to the power they obviously wield. No nongovernmental body can make things legal or illegal. By definition only the government can declare such things.



But I am getting a laugh out of you saying that courts are not a governmental body.

Chuma:For one to be independent from the government, it means that the government has to have no say at all. It means that they can not intervene in the ratings of mediums, chuma. That means the BBFC is not independent of the government unlike ESRB.

MonkeyThumbs: The courts are part of the government, they uphold the laws. If someone commits murder, they are breaking the law of the government and the courts examine the case to see that it is true. The Federal Supreme Court makes decisions on laws based on the constitution and the bill of rights. The courts decided that segregation was unconstitutional. If the president wanted to revers that, he couldn't as he would be going against the government and the people themselves that support that law.

Nightwing:

"The statement that the government COULD intervene in the actions of the BBFC is a sign that there is NO safeguard, no prevention, against them doing so."

I'm not sure this is the case to be honest. I will have to have a look into the facts, but please don't take the word of one spokesman as being gospel. If I discover it is indeed true that the government CAN overturn any individual decision, then I will agree that the system has a breaking point. However, I feel it unlikely that they will do so without first a public investigation and usually an appeals process will happen in the courts as well. I know that isn't perfect, but it does mean there is SOME provision to stop this from happening.

"The local governments can choose to follow the BBFC ratings, ignore them, or go stronger than the ratings."

This only applies to cinema, not dvd/video/games sales. It's one of those by-laws that remains to this day so that local government can cater to the individual moral needs of a town or city. It's seldom used, but when it is usually hits the headlines and paints the local government in a negative light.

"It is difficult to tell which is worse though.
(a) Having no safeguards in place and hoping for the best.
(b) Having safeguards in place, and when a violation occurs, having the government suddenly interpret the safeguard in some other way so that the act really wasn’t a violation after all. The US is monumental in this regard."

Yeah, I don't really like either situation, but I prefer (b) because if a previous government has set precident then it is difficult for another to do differently without unleashing the wraith of the opposition and/or the journalists which impacts votes. What I find a little bit annoying is when there is a clear violation but the means to overturn it takes years. Case in point, the patriot act has been about for 5 years now and is clearly unjust and unconstitutional, but hasn't been dealt with by the courts. another example is the gambling online which prevents US residents from gambling on a non-US platform, which is against World Trade agreements (which could result in several billion dollars of fines, but not for many years).

"So what say do you think the government has exactly? They set guidelines for any body they give the force of law. How those guidelines are applied, who works for the company and any individual ratings are all seperate from government."


I'm not saying that the government has power over the BBFC. I'm saying with so much legal weight vested in the BBFC they ARE the government. Big difference.

@ Erik

As in, the Government of films, games, DVDs etc? Yeah, I think you may have a point there. Surely you don't mean Government in the traditional, parliamentary sense?

Either way, given the fact that the appeals process is obviously in full, working condition, is transparent and has to follow due process - is that such a bad thing?

[...] that week has seen a striking revival of ‘video game legislation’ stories, from Massachusetts to Minnesota to England. Given the sudden resurgence of the issue, it seemed like an appropriate instance to dissect the legal issue of ‘video game regulation’ on the Law of the Game operating table. The concept of government regulation is as much a legal construct as it is a political one, and to term, it has been the legal system’s role to strike down these regulations as a violation of free speech (although, it has recently been brought out that, at a minimum, Justice Scalia may not agree). The real issue at hand is where, whether anywhere, a ‘video game law’ could fall in our legal system. [...]

monkeythumbs:

"As in, the Government of films, games, DVDs etc? Yeah, I think you may have a point there. Surely you don’t mean Government in the traditional, parliamentary sense?"

If that's all he means then it is bad semantics, but I will buy it. However, the suggestion that they are some branch of the parlimentary government I refute and with good grounds.
 
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