Films with scenes involvingracism face a tougher entrance into the UK market after the local certificationbody published new guidelines.

The British Board of FilmCertification (BBFC) cited incitement to racial hatred or violence andexpletives with a racial association as a chief area of growing public concern.

The body based its researchon the views of over 11,000 people, using focus groups to look at violence, badlanguage and drugs.

Language which offendsvulnerable minorities was another concern which prompted the BBFC to expand itsguidelines, along with suicide and self-harm and portraying easily accessibleweapons. Public concerns are also rising over sexual violence and rape, and thepromotion or glamorisation of smoking, alcohol abuse or substance misuse.

"Our classificationguidelines are at the heart of our contract with the public and therefore haveto reflect their views as accurately as possible," said BBFC president QuentinThomas.

The BBFC has also launched apublic awareness campaign to improve the understanding of the '12A' rating, anadvisory rating for 12 year olds which replaced the mandatory '12' rating in2002.

The review showed that only40% of people fully understand the '12A' category, although BBFC director DavidCooke said 40% was "actually quite good after only two and a half years."

Most of the confusion wasamongst parents with children outside the nine to eleven age range which theclassification was aimed at. "This had, in some cases, resulted in very youngchildren being taken to see films unsuitable for them, causing disruption forother cinema goers, or older children being prevented from seeing '12A' filmsbecause their parents thought the 'A' meant that the film contained adultthemes," Cooke said.

Centred on cinemas, thecampaign will use on-screen explanations and improve point of sale information.Film distributors and exhibitors have agreed that messages should appear at thebeginning of films.

"We did consider whether acut off age should be introduced to address the problem of very young childrenbeing taken to unsuitable films," Cooke said. "But our current view is thatimposing a mandatory lower age restriction on an advisory rating would onlyincrease confusion. Instead, we decided to raise awareness of the meaning ofthe three advisory categories."