While distributors and cinemas are required to use age rating, they cannot actually verify that every member of the audience is above the specified age limit. (On a similar note, parents cannot be checked for their compliance with age ratings on television, as this is merely a recommendation to help them determine whether a programme is suitable for a child of a given age.) The purpose of age rating is to merely remind parents to act responsibly, but they are free to decide whether to let their children watch rated films. Age ratings provide parents with a reliable second opinion when they are uncertain if a given programme is suitable for their children’s age.
Films presented at cinemas are subject to the same age rating scheme that applies to television programmes – that is, they must feature age ratings of 6, 12, 16 or 18 inside colour-coded circles, as appropriate. As regards the rating circles, the only difference with cinematic releases is the following: If a film has not yet been rated, rating circles set with a dashed line must be used by the distributor until the “official” rating is obtained. (Previously, audiences could also be shown films, trailers or other presentations featuring the rating BA, which stood for ‘besorolás alatt’, or Hungarian for not yet rated, but this is no longer in use.) A set of rating labels that can be used uniformly across various media are made available by the NMHH in the form of an identity manual.
Furthermore, films intended for general audiences without age restriction, as well as those for adults only, must be similarly labelled. Productions falling into the latter category may only be presented at cinemas and other public venues between 10 PM and 5 AM. However, for cinematic releases, it is the NMHH and not the affected theatre that is in charge of rating (by contrast, television programmes are rated by the channels they are aired on, with the Media Council of the NMHH only taking action if this is done in an unlawful manner.) The Age Rating Committee of the National Film Office rates not only feature films but also trailers, which means that these short presentations, as well as billboards and other promotional materials, must also carry the pertaining rating sign.