Parents could be allowed to bring babies to watch 15-rated films

Screenings for mothers and babies can be a lifeline for new mums. Picture: Cate Gillon
Screenings for mothers and babies can be a lifeline for new mums. Picture: Cate Gillon
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Parents keen for a dose of Hollywood action at baby screenings could soon be able to watch movies over certificate 12A after the council agreed to consider licensing changes.

Cinemas offering special screenings for parents with children under the age of one are only able to show films rated 12A, PG or U due to licensing regulations.

But a proposal by councillor Mary Campbell for a rethink of the rules to give parents the opportunity to watch the latest releases, regardless of rating, has been accepted by the council.

Cllr Campbell said: “Any parent or carer looking after a baby under one will attest to the bliss of places where babies are welcomed with open arms. Special carer and baby screenings in cinemas are one of those places. However, if a film is certificate 15, it cannot be shown at these screenings.”

Cllr Campbell’s own experience as a new parent prompted her to raise the motion. She added: “As the primary carer of a child under one, your life can change dramatically. You can become isolated, you are often suffering from sleep deprivation or post-natal depression, and something that helps during these times is that ability to continue with activities you have always enjoyed.

“And these screenings are very different from your average screening, with lights up, a lower volume and the freedom to feed and change babies as needed.”

Cinema licensing is administered by local councils, who are guided by the age certificate issued by the British Board of Firm Classification to regulate who can attend film screenings.

Cllr Campbell said local, independent cinemas such as the Filmhouse, Cameo and Dominion face challenges when trying to offer variety for baby screenings due to ratings.

The Cameo welcomed the motion. Marketing manager Neil Hepburn said: “The Cameo welcomes this long overdue proposal, which challenges a preposterous rule. Raising very young children can be an isolating experience, especially when parents find themselves excluded from certain areas of society.

“From my own experience of attending multiple baby screenings with my son, I can personally attest to the fact that babies under the age of one are more interested in the fabric on the seats than what’s on screen.

“They don’t engage with the content on any meaningful level. But by the current rules, the Cameo can legally screen a violent superhero blockbuster that’s a 12A, but not a 15-rated arthouse drama featuring people talking quietly for 90 minutes.

“We would love to be able to offer the best new releases to parents and carers attending the Big Scream. Let’s hope the council see sense here and end this patronising nonsense.”

Cllr Cathy Fullerton, licensing sub-committee convener, said: “I’m pleased the committee was unanimous in its support for this motion to vary licence conditions in cinemas and I look forward to receiving a further report on the matter in the near future.

“It’s important that our parents and carers are given the opportunity to enjoy the wealth of culture on offer in the city when possible and this change, which makes complete sense, would go some way toward achieving this.”

fiona.pringle@jpress.co.uk