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Reference > Media law & regulation > UK media laws > Cinema and film > Films Act 1960

UK media laws: Cinema and films

THE FILMS ACT 1960

8&9 Eliz.2 c.57
An Act to consolidate the Cinematograph Films Acts 1938 to 1960

PART I: Provisions for securing the showing of British films

1.—Obligations of exhibitors to show British films. For a fixed number of days per year.
2.—Disregard of certain films for quota purposes. ie Everything but registered British quota films.
3.—Meaning as exhibition as first feature film, and computation of total showing time.
4.—Exemptions and reliefs. Exemption if net box office is not more than 150 a week.

PART II: Registration of films

8.—Prohibition of distribution or exhibition of unregistered films.

11.—The register of films. Detailed list shall be published in Board of Trade Journal [now Trade & Industry] as soon as possible.

17.—Determination of question whether film to be registered as British or foreign. 'British' films are made by the government, a Commonwealth government or Irish government; or if the maker of the film is British or Irish and the film is made in a Commonwealth or Irish studio and a specified proportion of labour costs goes to British, Commonwealth or Irish citizens. [Amended by South Africa Act 1962 and European Communities Act 1972]

19.—Films made in accordance with international agreements. [See SI list]

20.—Registration of British films as quota films. Films with labour costs of less than 50 per minute of playing time will not be registered.

21.—Defines computation of labour costs.

 PART III: Renters and exhibitors

24.—Prohibition of unlicensed distribution or exhibition of registered films.
25.—Renter's licences and exhibitor's licences.
28.—Prohibition of use of unregistered title and restriction on variation of length. Renter may not deliver to exhibitor film 10 per cent of registered playing time.
29.—Prohibition of showing of films obtained from unlicensed renters.
30.—Record books to be kept by renters and exhibitors.
31.—Returns to be made by exhibitors.

 PART IV: Restrictions on blind booking and advance booking

 33.—Restriction on blind booking. No booking allowed before trade show nor enforcement by renter to make an exhibitor take a particular film.
34.—Restriction on advance booking.
37.—Penalty for contravention of Part IV. Fine not exceeding 250.

PART V: General and supplemental

38.—Films to which Act applies.
39.—Newsreels. May be accepted as British and quota films.
40.—Rentals of registered films. Must be separate for each film in the show.
41.—The Cinematograph Films Council. Established.
42.—Wages and conditions of employment of persons employed in film industry.
45.—Penalties for quota offences. Fine up to 250 on summary conviction, up to 500 on indictment.
50.—Interpretation.
        Short film = up to 3313 mins
        Long film = over 3313mins
51.—Repeal, amendment of enactments, transitional provisions and savings.
        (1) Cinematograph Films Acts of 1938, 1948 and 1960 repealed.
        (5) No effect on the definition of 'British' in Cinematograph Films Act 1957.

 Sch.1.—Constitution of Cinematograph Films Council.

SI
1961/1187    Films (Tanganyika) Order
1965/1856    Films Co-Production Agreement (France) Order
1967/1679    Films Co-Production Agreement (Italy) Order
1975/623      Films Co-Production Agreement (Federal Republic of Germany) Order
1975/1838    Films Co-Production Agreement (Government of Canada) Order
1977/1306    Films (Exemption from Quota) Order

SIs made under Films Act 1960 and Films Act 1970
1961/1824 Films (Exhibitors) Regulations
1961/1825 Films (Registration of Newsreels) Regulations
1961/1826 Films (Registration) Regulations
1961/1827 Films (Renters' Licences) Regulations
1964/1281 Films (Registration of Newsreels) (Amendment) Regulations
1970/985   Films (Exhibitors) (Amendment) Regulations

Number Title revokes revoked by
1970/986 Films (Renters' Licences) Regulations 1974/2132
1970/987 Films (Registration of Newsreels) (Amendment) Regulations 1974/2130
1970/1858 Films (Registration) Regulations
1972/1925 Films (Registration) (Amendment) Regulations *1974/2131
1972/1926 Films (Exhibitors) (Amendment) Regulations 1974/2129
1974/2129 Films (Exhibitors) (Amendment) Regulations 1972/1926 1975/1656
1974/2130 Films (Registration of Newsreels) (Amendment) Regulations 1970/987 1975/1658
1974/2132 Films (Renters' Licences) (Amendment) Regulations 1970/986 1975/1659
1975/1656 Films (Exhibitors) (Amendment) Regulations 1974/2129 1976/1255
1975/1657 Films (Registration) (Amendment) Regulations 1974/2131 1976/1254
1975/1658 Films (Registration of Newsreels) (Amendment) Regulations 1974/2130 1976/1253
1975/1659 Films (Renters' Licences) (Amendment) Regulations 1974/2132 1976/1252
1976/1252 Films (Renters' Licences) (Amendment) Regulations 1975/1659 1977/1669
1976/1253 Films (Registration of Newsreels) (Amendment) Regulations 1975/1658 1977/1666
1976/1254 Films (Registration) (Amendment) Regulations 1975/1657 1977/1667
1976/1255 Films (Exhibitors) (Amendment) Regulations 1975/1656 1977/1668
1977/1666 Films (Registration of Newsreels) (Amendment) Regulations 1976/1253
1977/1667 Films (Registration) (Amendment) Regulations 1976/1254 1978/1632
1977/1668 Films (Exhibitors) (Amendment) Regulations 1976/1255
1977/1669 Films (Renters' Licences) (Amendment) Regulations 1976/1252
1978/1632 Films (Registration) (Amendment) Regulations 1977/1667

*made under European Communities Act 1972

All distribution or exhibition in UK cinemas had to be licensed. Renters and exhibitors had to keep record books and exhibitors had to make regular returns. Rentals of registered films had to be recorded separately for each film in the show.
       Exhibitors had to show registered British quota films for a fixed number of days per year but could claim exemption if the net box office was not more than 150 a week. A fine up to 250 per offence on summary conviction or up to 500 on indictment could be imposed.
       It was illegal to distribute or screen unregistered films and films could not be obtained from unlicensed distributors. A detailed list of registered films was to be published in the Board of Trade Journal [later called Trade & Industry] as soon as possible.
       The renter (distributor) was not allowed to deliver to an exhibitor a film that varied by 10 per cent of registered playing time.
       The question of whether a film should be registered as British or foreign was determined as follows: 'British' films are made by the government, a Commonwealth government or Irish government; or if the maker of the film is British or Irish and the film is made in a Commonwealth or Irish studio and a specified proportion of labour costs goes to British, Commonwealth or Irish citizens. Films made in accordance with international agreements could also be registered. These agreements were defined in Statutory Instruments. Newsreels could also be counted as British and quota films if qualifying.
       Films with labour costs of less than 50 per minute of playing time did not have to be registered.
       No booking was allowed before a film was trade shown (so-called 'blind booking') and the distributor could not make an exhibitor take a particular film, the penalty for contravention being a fine not exceeding 250.
   The Cinematograph Films Council was established, consisting of representatives of trade bodies and a few independent members. This was disbanded in 1985 and its functions (and some members) were taken up on a non-statutory basis by the newly renamed British Screen Advisory Council.

  Repealed by Films Act 1985

 Cinema and film laws.
 Alphabetical list.

 

Page updated 9 March 2009
David Fisher