WHY DO WE NEED A FILM CENSORSHIP BOARD?

Like all countries, Nigeria seeks to protect its young from unsuitable content and as a multi-ethnic developing society; the country also needs to preserve ethnic racial and religious harmony. It must take into account the sensitivities of all the different groups, cultures who make up the population. With the impact and influence of both Nigerian movies and the influx of foreign cultural imports, censorship will continue to play an important role in fostering a morally wholesome and socially cohesive society and safeguard core community values such as the importance of family, respect for one’s elders and moral integrity. Of course, censorship alone is not sufficient to maintain the moral tone of our society, as the industry, artists and the community at large has to play a significant role in determining what society as whole considers to be acceptable standards for media content. Hence it is a shared responsibility among the various stakeholders, with censorship being complemented by public education for greater media awareness

WHO SETS THE CENSORSHIP GUIDELINES?

The Board’s Censorship guidelines are generally based on a legal instrument establishing the Board, as well as set through an established mechanism that involves all stakeholders in deciding on issues.

IS IT AN OFFENCE TO BUY UNCENSORED FILMS?

Under the NFVCB act, all videos must bear a classification symbol issued by the board, except for exempted categories of videos that carry an exemption number; this therefore means that the distribution and possession of uncertified videos are offences under the act. Those found dealing with obscene materials face stiff penalties and can be jailed for up to two years.

HOW FAR HAS THE BOARD TAKEN CARE THE DIVERSE INTEREST IN NIGERIA?

The composition of membership of the Board is a clear indication that the interests of diverse groups in Nigeria have been adequately taken care of.

HOW IS THE MEMBERSHIP OF THE CENSORS BOARD COMPOSED OR CONSTITUTED?

In view of the nation-wide nature of the Board’s assignment, it draws its membership from all over the Federation. The Board also has an advisory council made up of representatives from each state of the Federation and the FCT. The advisory council also includes representatives from important stakeholders such as the religious organizations, parents, teacher’s bodies, Nigerian copyright commission, and the National Broadcasting Commission, etc

CAN AN ACTIVE FILM MAKER OR VIDEO PRODUCER BE A MEMBER OF THE CENSORS BOARD ?

No; the implication is for such a member to be regarded as representing other producers who submit their works to the censors board; it’s like being a judge of your own product or being the defender of producers on the board. However, an active filmmaker can only sit on the NFVCB advisory council.

WHAT IS THE FILM & VIDEO CONSULTATIVE PANEL ?

The film consultative panel was set up to reflect the community’s standards in censorship decisions. The panel consists of membership from all the 36 states and the FCT, and film & video industry guilds, as well as other entertainment stakeho9lders, including other government bodies such as the Nigeria copyrights commission, the Nigeria customs service, immigration, and police.

WHO ARE THE CLIENTS FOR THE CENSORS BOARD ?

The client of the censors board include the following operators in the film and video industry in Nigeria: film and video producers, professional exhibitors, film and video importers and exporters, distributors, retailers, video clubs, owners of cinema halls and video viewing premises, video production studios etc.

APART FROM FILM AND VIDEO CENSORSHIP WHAT ARE THE OTHER FUNCTIONS OF THE CENSORS BOARD?

The law requires the censors board apart from censoring films and video works, to:

  • License a person to exhibit films and video works,
  • License a person to distribute and or market films and video works
  • License a premises for the purposes of exhibiting films and video works:
  • Regulate and prescribe safety precautions to be observed in licensed premises;
  • Regulate and control cinematographic exhibitions and other functions as are necessary for the full discharge of all or any of the functions conferred on it by decree no.85 of 1993
  • Register films and video works;
  • Register licensed exhibition premises, video production studios, etc;
  • Register film and video distribution companies, exporters, importers;
  • Register video clubs, shops, centres, (i) register professional exhibitors;
  • Keep records on video producers in Nigeria, etc
WHAT IS FILM AND VIDEO CENSORSHIP?

Film and video censorship refers to a process whereby any film or video work either produced locally or imported is submitted to the censors board for registration, previewing and examination prior to its categorization for public supply, distribution or exhibition. Censorship entails the examination of the contents of a film or video work to determine the age group of the target audience, based on the film’s possible or inherent psychological, sociological and moral impact, among other factors.

WHAT ARE THE CRITERIA USED IN CENSORING A FILM AND VIDEO WORK?

The Committee, in considering the contents of a film or a video work, before taking a decision will ensure that it

  • has an educational or/entertainment value, apart from promoting Nigerian culture, unity or interest;
  • does not undermine national security;
  • does not induce or reinforce the corruption of private or public morality;
  • does not encourage or glorify violence;
  • does not expose the people of African heritage to ridicule or contempt;
  • does not encourage illegal or criminal acts;
  • does not encourage racial, religious and ethnic discrimination or conflict;
  • does not promote blasphemy or obscenity nor depict any matter which is,
    1. indecent, obscene or likely to be injurious to (public or private) morality or
    2. likely to incite or encourage public disorder or crime or is undesirable in the public interest.
DOES THE BOARD CLASSIFY CENSORED FILMS?

The Censors Board issues a Certificate of censorship on all films and video works censored by its Committee and in the certificate the classification of the film or video is indicated e.g

  • ‘G’ to indicate for general exhibition;
  • ‘PG’ to indicate parental guidance;
  • ‘12’ and ‘12A’ to indicate not recommended for children under 12 years; and 12A means that no one under
  • 12 years may enter a cinema unless accompanies by an adult
  • ‘15’ to indicate not recommended to persons under 15 years
  • ‘18’ to indicate for mature audiences;
  • ‘RE’ to indicate for restricted exhibition and such other Classification as may be deemed appropriate
HOW IS CENSORSHIP CARRIED OUT?

It is carried out through censorship committees at all our six zonal offices. The NFVCB Act provides that the Federation is divided into operational zones for the purpose of censorship. Each operational zone has a Censorship Committee made up of at least a representative from each of the states covered by the zone and such other number of persons as may be appointed by NFVCB. WHAT DO I HAVE TO DO? To apply for a censorship and classification of your film, you need to supply the followings:

  • A completed application form
  • An adequate synopsis of the film
  • A copy of the film
  • The censorship fee receipt with the Board teller attached
  • Your application will not be processed until all of the required elements have been received
HOW CAN THE CATEGORIZATION OF FILMS AND VIDEO WORKS BE ENFORCED BY THE BOARD?

The law requires that a film or video work in a restricted classification can only be distributed or exhibited as such. That is, if the film is to be exhibited in premises registered by the Censors Board, and the exhibitor or a member of the police force suspects on reasonable grounds that a member or some members of the audience are underage, the exhibitor or the police officer may ask such under-aged to leave possibly by force. With regard to home video recordings censored by the Board, each cassette and its cover must carry the appropriate classification label for the guidance of the supplier and the prospective customer.

WHAT IS CONSUMER ADVICE ?

Consumer advice refers to the advisory label issued to a film by the Board to inform consumers about the principal elements that have contributed to the rating given. All films and video works classified by the Board especially those with legally restrictive categories such as those of the horror genre are required to carry consumer advice. This is to help the public, particularly, parents, make informed choices for themselves and their children..

WHERE CAN WE GET CENSORED ADVICE ?

It is mandatory that all movies including the trailer and promotional materials contain consumer advice messages, which must be conspicuously displayed at all times. Consumer advice will be displayed at electronic “banners” or screens at the cinema lobbies and at the display windows of ticketing counters. Movies posters, TV commercials, newspaper/magazine advertisements and those printed within the entertainment pages or cinema listings will also carry consumer advice. The public can also check the NFVCB website and websites of film distributors and exhibitors for advice. For indigenous language films, consumer advice will be highlighted in the respective language of the films.

HOW CAN ONE KNOW IF THE FILM OR VIDEO WORK ABOUT TO BE EXHIBITED IN A LICENSED PREMISES OR SUPPLIED BY A VENDOR OR VIDEO CLUB HAS BEEN CERTIFIED BY THE CENSORS BOARD ?

An exhibitor about to exhibit a censored film or video work in licensed premises must display approved poster that indicates the film or video work’s classification by the Censors Board. Once the poster for a film or video work has been approved by the Censors Board, any addition or subtraction to it is regarded as an offence. Once the poster has been altered, it must be re-submitted for a fresh examination. Adverts and other promotional materials must also indicate the film’s classification. The censors Board also sells classification tags that should be pasted on cassettes and containers sold or supplied as home videos for the guidance of the buyers or video club members. Members of the public can also go to our website at www.nfvcb.org to check for details of licensed cinemas, viewing centres and films classified by the Board..

IF A FILM OR VIDEO WORK HAS BEEN APPROVED FOR EXHIBITION BY THE CENSORS BOARD, CAN THE EXHIBITOR OR PRODUCER ADD OR SUBTRACT FROM THE CONTENT?

A film or video work to which any matter has been added or subtracted after it had been approved for exhibition shall be resubmitted for censorship and its previous approval shall be deemed null and void.

CAN AN APPLICANT WHO FEELS AGGRIEVED OVER THE DECISION OF THE CENSORS COMMITTEE APPEAL AGAINST IT?

You can ask the Censors Board Verification officer for a copy of reason for the Board’s decision. If you are dissatisfied with the classification decision you may appeal to the Board through the Director General using the prescribed form. The grounds and particulars of the appeal are stated as an attachment along a payment of a prescribed fee. On receipt of the notice of appeal the censors board shall within 60 days constitute a ‘Review Committee’ consisting of the Board Chairman and such other members who are not members of the Censors Committee that viewed the work earlier. The Review Committee membership shall exceed the Censors Committee by three members and its decision like that of the Censors Committee shall be by majority vote. The decision of the Review Committee shall have to be confirmed by the Censors Board

IF A FILM HAS BEEN CENSORSED BY THE CENSORS BOARD IN KANO, ABA OR ABEOKUTA, FOR INSTANCE, CAN IT BE EXHIBITED IN LAGOS WITHOUT REFERENCE TO THE COMMITTEE IN THE LAGOS ZONE?

The Censors Board has a national coverage. Once a film or video work has been passed by any of its zonal committees the Film or video can be exhibited I any part of the Federation.

ARE THERE FILMS AND VIDEO WORKS THAT ARE EXEMPTED FROM CENSORSHIP BY THE LAW ?

The following categories of films and video works are exempted under the law. All video works and films or exhibition in premises to which the public is not admitted i.e. non-commercial exhibition; Also exempted is any documentary film or imported video documentary, produced or issued by the federal or state government. The diplomatic representative of a Commonwealth or foreign country, the UNO or any organ of that organization or any other regional or global organization; An education, scientific or cultural today or society including any broadcasting or television organization; or Any film or video work designed as a whole to inform, educate or instruct, i.e. instructional materials for schools or training programmes; Concerned with sports, or a video game

ARE THERE ANY LIMITATIONS TO THE CLASSIFICATION OF ANY FILM OR VIDEO WORK AS EXEMPTED?

A film video work shall not be classified as exempted if to any significant extent it- Depicts explicit sexual activities or associated act of force; Depicts mutilation or torture of either man or animal; Depicts human genital organs or urinary or excretory functions; Is designed to encourage acts in (a) or (b); Is religious and promotes ethnic prejudices either by words or action.

WOULD AN INDIVIDUAL OR CORPORATE BODY BE CONTRAVENING THE LAW BY EXHIBITING A FILM OR VIDEO WORK CONSIDERED TO BE EXEMPTED FROM CENSORSHIP WITHOUT REFERENCE TO THE BOARD ?

The NFVCB Act provides that; A notice of importation of such an exempted film or video shall be given to the censors Board An application for exemption from censorship and approval for the exhibition of the film or video work shall be made to the censors Board The Censors Board may decide to verify any of all the information contained in the application or may even arrange the viewing of such a film or video work

IS IT AN OFFENCE TO BUY VCD/DVDS RELEASED IN OTHE COUNTRIES AN BROUGHT INTO NIGERIA ?

Videos sold outside Nigeria are considered to be uncensored when brought into the country. The Board works closely with the Customs, and Immigration Services to check that travelers who bring in uncensored and obscene videos at our nation’s airports and borders. However, the Board always adopts a very rational approach to persons who bring in VCDs, and DVDs bought outside Nigeria for personal consumption. Some of the VCDs/DVDs brought in may be from the exempted categories which do not require classification. All videos brought into Nigeria should be declared and submitted to the Board for classification

HOW DOES THE BOARD HELP IN COMBATING VIDEO PIRACY, INCLUDING CONSUMERS OF PIRATED DVD/VCD PRODUCTS?

The Board has a joint regulatory task force which includes the Copyright Commission to help check video piracy. Also, under the NFVCB Act, all distributors and importers of video films are expected to show evidence of copyrights assignment prior to censorship classification, the same applies to the registration and licencing of video clubs operators

WHAT FACTORS DOES THE CENSORS BOARD USE TO DETERMINE THAT A FILME OR VIDEO WORK IS NIGERIAN BEFORE REGISTRATION?

The NFVCB Act which set up the Board, a film and video work would be regarded and registered as a Nigerian film or video work if the producer of the work was throughout the time during which the film or video work was being made, either a Nigerian or a company registered under the Companies and Allied Maters Decree 1990.

HOW CAN YOU PROVE THAT A FILM OR VIDEO WORK HAS BEEN REGISTERED BY THE CENSORS BOARD?

One can prove that a film or video has been registered by the Board if one produces the following documents; The certificate of registration issued by the Board and A copy of the entity in the register relating to the film or video work being a copy certified to be true by the Secretary of the Board

WHO ARE THOSE EMPOWERED BY NFVCB ACT OF 1993 TO ENTER INTO A FILM OR VIDEO EXHIBITION PREMISES FOR INSPECTION OR INVESTIGATION PURPOSE?

Those empowered by the NFVCB Act No.85 of 1993 to enter into a film or video exhibition premises for inspection or investigation purposes include An-authorized member of the police force, staff and Board members of the censors Board and the Fire Service They are empowered to do so when they want to ensure that the provisions of the NFVCB Act or any conditions related to their designated schedule have been complied with Such investigators or inspectors can be identified through the censors Board identity card which they must present at the assignment site.

WHAT MAJOR INFORMATION SHOULD BE INCLUDED IN THE ADVERT OR PROMOTION OF A FILM FOR EXHIBITION OR DISTRIBUTION AND ON PRINTED OR WRITTEN MATTERS SUCH AS POWERS, HANDBILLS ETC?

The major information that should be included in the advert or promotion of a film for exhibition or distribution is to state the classification given the film by the censors Board either in full by the use of the following symbols; ‘G’ To indicate for general exhibition ‘PG’ To indicate intended particularly for children ‘12’ To indicate not suitable for people under the age of 12. ’12A’ To indicate that the movie may contain scenes not suitable for persons under the age of 12 therefore, parental guidance must be applied. ’15’ To indicate not suitable for persons under the age of 15 as the content is strong in impact. ‘18’ To indicate for mature audiences ‘RE’ To indicate for restricted exhibition and such other classification as may be prescribed by the regulations made by the Board

WHAT MUST A FILM OR VIDEO WORK PRODUCER, EXHIBITOR, DISTRIBUTOR OR SUPPLIER DO BEFORE EXHIBITING, MARKETING OR SUPPLYING A FILM OR VIDEO WORK TO MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC?

As from the commencement of the NFVCB Act No.85 of 1993 no person is allowed to exhibit, distribute or supply an unexempted film or video recording without a Censorship Certificate issued by the censors Board, i.e all feature films and video works produced in Nigeria or imported, must first be submitted to the censors Board for registration, censorship and classification before exhibition, distribution or supply to members of the public.

WHAT IF A VERSION OF MY FILM HAS BEEN CENSORED?

Before submitting an application to the censors Board please refer to previous classification records via the classification database. If you wish to distribute the version of a previously classified film you must submit it for classification. Revisions may include director’s cuts containing extra scenes and films that have been edited to a shorter version. There is a different schedule of fees in Regulations for classifying a revised version of a film

WHAT ARE OUR CHARGES FOR CENSORSHIP AND CLASSIFICATION FILMS?

1. Films

Items
Runtime of Films
Nigerian Films in Local language
Nigerian films in English Language
Foreign films
Films meant for Public exhibition
1
0-15
N10,000
N20,000
N25,000
+30% of applicable fee
2
16-30
N20,000
N30,000
N40,000
+30% of applicable fee
3
31-60
N30,000
N40,000
N50,000
+30% of applicable fee
4
61 – 90
N40,000
N50,000
N60,000
+30% of applicable fee
5
91 – 120
N45,000
N60,000
N70,000
+30% of applicable fee
6
121 – 150
N60,000
N70,000
N80,000
+30% of applicable fee
7
151 – 200
N60,000
N80,000
N90,000
+30% of applicable fee
8
201 – 300
N60,000
N90,000
N100,000
+30% of applicable fee
9
More than 300 mins
N75,000
N90,000
N150,000
+30% of applicable fee
10
Fast Track
+N50,000 of applicable fee for all categories

2. Trailers

Item
Category
Nigerian Films in Local language
Nigerian films in English Language
Foreign films
1
Classification of trailers
N5,000
N7,500
N7,500

3. Others

Items
Category
Nigerian Films in Local language
Nigerian films in English Language
Foreign films
Public exhibition
1
Cost of Appeal
N5, 000 application fee + The cost of constituting a review committee.
2
Application for Exemption
50% of applicable fee
3
Title Change
N10,000
N10000
N10000
N10000
WHAT IS THE DURATION OF CENSORSHIP?

With the submission of a duly completed application that meets all the Board’s requirements, the censorship can be completed in no later than 14 days. Unless there are major issues arising from the application and the movie submitted, you will be notified of the censors Board’s decision within 3 full working days after the screening date. You will be notified of the Board’s decision in writing, in the form of a classification certificate, as soon as the decision is made. The decision takes effect from the date you receive notification. When the application is closed the decision will appear on the NFVCB public database. The applicant’s name will appear on that record. The abridged information in this publication has been extracted from the National Film and Video censors Board Act of A1993, and other regulations. For further information, please visit our website at www.nfvc.org or call at HQ office of the National Film and Video Censors Board or any of our six zonal offices nationwide or address you enquiries to the

For more information please email

info@nfvcb.gov.ng