Ofcom and the ITC programme code
The ITC Programme Code sets out the editorial standards which audiences are entitledto expect from commercial television services in the UK. It aims to ensure thatrequirements covering programme content which Parliament stipulated in the 1990and 1996 Broadcasting Acts are met, while allowing for and encouraging creativity,development and innovation.
To secure that every licensed service includes nothing in its programmes which offendsagainst good taste or decency or is likely to encourage or incite to crime or lead to disorder or be offensive to public feeling.
Family Viewing Policy and the Watershed - Material unsuitable for children must not be transmitted at times when large numbers of children may be expected to be watching.
The portrayal of any dangerous or harmful behaviour easily imitated by childrenshould be avoided, especially before the watershed, and must be excluded entirely inchildren’s programmes. This applies especially to the use, in a manner likely to causeserious injury, of knives and other offensive weapons, articles or substances
Requires that broadcasters take “appropriate measures to ensure that televisionbroadcasts… do not include any programmes which might seriously impair thephysical, mental or moral development of minors, in particular programmes thatinvolve pornography or gratuitous violence”.
Certification: No ‘12’ rated version should normally start before 8pm on any service.
No ‘15’ rated version should normally start before 9pm (or 8pm on premiumrate subscription services, contents permitting).
No ‘18’ rated version should start before 10pm on any service. This rule maybe relaxed if the classification was made more than 10 years ago and the film is nowclearly suitable for earlier transmission.
No ‘R18’ version should be transmitted at any time.
No version refused a BBFC certification should be transmitted at any time.
Pay Per View Services - Where security mechanisms, such as a PIN system or equivalent, satisfactorily restrictaccess to films or programmes solely to those authorised to view, watershed rules maybe waived.
Trailers and Programme Promotions - Viewers do not choose to see promotional material, so special care is required in scheduling. All trailers and promotions shown before the watershed must comply with Family Viewing Policy.
Bad language must be defensible in terms of context and scheduling with warnings where appropriate.
Careful consideration should be given to nudity before the watershed but some nuditymay be justifiable in a non-sexual and relevant context. Representations of sexual intercourse should not occur before the watershed unlessthere is a serious educational purpose.
Violence. It is reasonable for television to reflect this but it is clear that the portrayal of violence, whether physical, verbal or psychological, can upset, disturb and offend. Different types of violence are:
Psychological Harm to Young and Vulnerable Viewers
Cumulative effects of violence
Suicide:There should be no more detailed demonstration of the means or method of suicide than is justified by the context, scheduling and likely audience for the programme.
Violence in News and other Programmes: News and current affairs programmes are subject, like any other programming, to the requirements of Family Viewing Policy.
Respect for Human Dignity and Treatment of Minorities -Viewers have a right to expect that licensed services will reflect their responsibility to preserve human dignity.
Ethnic Minorities-No programme should be transmitted which is intended to stir up racial hatred.
People with disabilities - There is a danger of offence in the use of humour based on physical, mental or sensory disability, even where no malice is present.