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Formal complaint to the broadcaster

You must send your formal complaint to the broadcaster in the first instance. This gives the broadcaster an opportunity to answer your complaint first – you might be satisfied with their answer and decide not to go any further with the complaint.

Please note that the complaints process does take some time. It is unlikely you will get an instant answer or resolution. How long the process takes will depend on how far you choose to take your complaint. If you complain to the broadcaster and then you go on to refer your complaint to the BSA, it could be a number of months after the original date of the broadcast that you get a final decision – or even longer if the complaint is complex or raises many different issues. If you refer your complaint, the BSA will do its best to keep you up to date on the progress of your complaint and when you can reasonably expect a decision. For more information about this process, see: [Making a Complaint] under the heading ‘How does the BSA handle complaints?’ and [Refer a Complaint].

There are two exceptions to the rule that complaints must go to the broadcaster first – privacy complaints (on their own) and election programme complaints, both of which come direct to the BSA:

How to make a Privacy Complaint
How to complain about an Election Programme

Formal complaints must be in writing and need to be lodged with the broadcaster within 20 working days of the broadcast.

You need to provide the following details about the programme:

  • the date of the broadcast
  • the time of the broadcast
  • the title of the programme
  • the channel or station which broadcast the programme

You also need to explain which broadcasting standards you think have been breached, and why.
For an overview of the standards:
Go to Codes and Standards

For help with choosing the right standard, including some examples:
Go to Choosing a Standard

  • If you are ready to make a complaint to the broadcaster now

    You can use the broadcaster’s online complaint form:




    For a broadcaster or station which is not listed here, you can use the BSA's online complaint from instead (scroll down to the next heading 'If you cannot find the broadcaster you're looking for' and fill in the checklist to access the BSA's Formal Complaint form). 


    Or you can post your complaint to the broadcaster

    If you prefer to post your complaint, you can print out and complete the BSA's downloadable Formal Complaint form and post it to the broadcaster:

    BSA's Formal Complaint form PDF69.96 KB

    Postal addresses for the broadcasters can be found on their websites.
    Broadcaster Links

  • If you cannot find the broadcaster you're looking for

    You can make a complaint using the BSA’s online Formal Complaint form below.
    If you use the BSA’s online form, your complaint will be sent on to the relevant broadcaster.

    Formal Complaint Form

    To access this form fill out the checklist below.

    * denotes required field

      • You can provide:

    About You

    We need your details so that we can address your complaint effectively.

    Programme Details
    Complaint Details