Italy is planning a new film ratings legislation package aimed at protecting the youngest cinemagoer. The bill will be presented to the Cabinet of Ministers tomorrow and outlines new criteria for ratings with an updated age-tiered system.

The law aims to replace Italy's last board that was charged with overseeing age limits. That body was set up in 1962 - and only issued restrictions to under 18-year-old audiences.

The current law proposal's objective would render defunct the previous commission and introduce a new commission charged with the classification of films by age in four categories:

- films for all audiences

- films restricted to under 18 year-old audiences

- films restricted to under 14 year-old audiences

- films restricted to under 10 year-old audiences

Content to be more closely scrutinised would include a film's narrative structure, language, violence, pornographic content, use of abusive substances, criminal conduct, discrimination, nationality, disabilities, mistreatment of animals. These indexes would periodically be reviewed

Organisations and exhibitors that don't co-operate risk fines of up to Euro 100,000 (USD$137,500) as well as possible jail.

In January this year, strong reaction to Mel Gibson's picture Apocalypto sparked Italian courts to rule 14-year-olds could not be permitted to see the film after its unrestricted rating unleashed controversy.