Broadcast Bulletins

The Broadcast Bulletins reports the outcome of investigations into alleged breaches of the Ofcom codes as well as licence conditions with which broadcasters regulated by Ofcom are required to comply.

The Broadcast Bulletin reports on the work of Ofcom’s Content Standards, Licensing and Enforcement Team who assess broadcasting complaints and investigate potential breaches of Ofcom’s codes and licence conditions. These Codes, rules and guidance documents include:

a) Ofcom’s Broadcasting Code (“the Code”), which contains rules including those about the protection of under 18’s, harm and offence, due impartiality, fairness and privacy and commercial references.

b) The Code on the Scheduling of Television Advertising (“COSTA”) which contains rules on how much advertising and teleshopping may be scheduled in programmes, how many breaks are allowed and when they may be taken.

c) Certain sections of the BCAP Code: the UK Code of Broadcast Advertising, which relate to those areas of the BCAP Code for which Ofcom retains regulatory responsibility. These include:

  • The prohibition on ‘political’ advertising;
  • Sponsorship and product placement on television (see Rules 9.13, 9.16 and 9.17 of the Code) and all commercial communications in radio programming (see Rules 10.6 to 10.8 of the Code);
  • ‘Participation TV’ advertising. This includes long-form advertising predicated on premium rate telephone services - most notably chat (including ‘adult’ chat), ‘psychic’ readings and dedicated quiz TV (Call TV quiz services). Ofcom is also responsible for regulating gambling, dating and ‘message board’ material where these are broadcast as advertising.

d) Other licence conditions which broadcasters must comply with, such as requirements to pay fees and submit information which enables Ofcom to carry out its statutory duties. Further information can be found on Ofcom’s website for television and radio licences.

e) Rules and guidance for both editorial content and advertising content on ODPS. Ofcom considers sanctions in relation to ODPS on referral by the Authority for Television On-Demand (“ATVOD”) or the Advertising Standards Authority (“ASA”), co-regulators of ODPS for editorial content and advertising respectively, or may do so as a concurrent regulator.

Other codes and requirements may also apply to broadcasters and ODPS, depending on their circumstances. These include the Code on Television Access Services (which sets out how much subtitling, signing and audio description relevant licensees must provide), the Code on Electronic Programme Guides, the Code on Listed Events, and the Cross Promotion Code.

It is Ofcom’s policy to describe fully the content in television, radio and on demand content. Some of the language and descriptions used in Ofcom’s Broadcast Bulletin may therefore cause offence.