The Pay Television Code of Broadcasting Practice covers programmes on all pay television channels in New Zealand. 'Pay' means television that is provided on a subscription basis (ie, viewers must pay to view the broadcast signal). It includes television providers such as SKY TV and TelstraClear.
(See sections 4 and 21 of the Act).
The Code consists of Standards, which are supported by Guidelines intended to assist interpretation.
Pay television broadcasters are responsible for maintaining the following broadcasting standards in the preparation and presentation of content that subscribers pay a fee to receive.
The requirements of the Code are set out in each standard. Each standard has a number of associated guidelines. These guidelines do not of themselves impose requirements on a broadcaster. They are included to provide interpretative assistance for broadcasters and the public, and indicate factors that the broadcaster should consider when assessing whether a programme complies with a particular standard.
A programme which does not adhere to the letter of a particular guideline may not be in breach, depending on the programme's overall compliance with the relevant standard.
Formal complaints allege that the broadcaster has failed in its responsibility to maintain one or more of the broadcasting standards set out in Standards 1 to 10 below.
Formal complaints must be:
The one exception is an allegation of breach of privacy (Standard P9) which may be made directly to the BSA without first being referred to the broadcaster.
Formal complaints should specify:
Pay TV broadcasters are also required to comply with the Programme Code covering Election Programmes such as Opening and Closing Addresses and Advertisements. A copy of the Election Programmes Code is available on this website.
Apart from programme promotions and broadcast political advertising, the BSA has no jurisdiction over advertisements. Complaints about advertisements should be made to the Advertising Standards Complaints Board.
Copies of all broadcasting Codes are available from the BSA and from this website.
The following standards apply to all pay TV programmes broadcast in New Zealand.
“Filtering technology” means electronic technology that gives subscribers the ability to set a classification threshold beyond which programmes can only be accessed by using a PIN or other key which the subscriber can keep confidential.
a These classifications should be broadcast on all content except for news and current affairs and
G Approved for General viewing
PG Parental Guidance recommended for young viewers
M Suitable for Mature audiences 16 years and over
16 People under 16 years should not view
18 People under 18 years should not vie
b Classifications should screen at the beginning of programmes, be included in all electronic programme
guides and accompany printed guides where possible.
c News, current affairs and live content is not, because of its distinct nature, subject to classification.
However, broadcasters must be mindful of children’s interests and other broadcasting standards and
include warnings where appropriate.
d Visual warning labels should be broadcast immediately prior to content which is likely to distress or
offend a substantial number of viewers, particularly where it is likely that viewers would not anticipate
this effect due to the context or the nature of the content.
e Visual warning labels will include:
C Content may offend
L Language may offend
V Contains violence
VL Violence and language may offend
S Sexual content may offend
f Visual warning labels should also be included in electronic programme guides and in all relevant
g Verbal warnings should also be used when content is particularly likely to distress or offend a
substantial number of viewers. When used, verbal warnings should screen at the start of the
programme, with accompanying text if necessary.
h Visual and verbal warnings are not required for live content on foreign “pass through” channels
with no local editorial intervention.
i Where filtering technology is not automatically made available in accordance with
Guideline (j) below, content classified 18 may screen only between 8pm–6am, or 9am–3pm
(other than weekend days, school holidays and public holidays when it may screen only
j If filtering technology is automatically made available to subscribers free of charge, and regularly
promoted by the broadcaster for subscriber use, content classified 18 may screen at any time provided
other applicable broadcasting standards are adhered to.
k The filtering technology may be made available on the basis that subscribers elect to use it,
provided that a subscriber is easily able to initiate use at any time through the television remote
or similar device.
l Content classified 18 may screen at any time on premium channels (those where a separate and
additional fee is payable by subscribers), provided other applicable broadcasting standards are
a Appropriate use of classifications, warnings and filtering technology in accordance with standard P1
above may assist broadcasters to comply with this standard.
b The likely expectations of the audience for a channel, a programme and its scheduling will also be
c Explicit adult sex programmes classified 18 may screen only on premium channels.
a Channels targeted at children should only contain content appropriate for children.
b Content not intended for children’s viewing should not be specifically promoted to children and will
be screened in accordance with standard P1.
c Content classified M or above, especially that containing sexual or violent material, should not screen
adjacent to content aimed at children.
d Themes and scenes in fictional content dealing with matters known to disturb children, such as
domestic friction or the humiliation or ill-treatment of children, should be appropriately classified
e Any portrayal of realistic violence in content likely to be viewed by children should be scheduled
and classified with care.
f Security systems, eg. filtering technology, which are in place to protect children, should be clearly
and regularly promoted to subscribers.
[For the purposes of this Code, a ‘child’ is a person under 14 years of age unless otherwise specified.]
a Content featuring violence should be appropriately classified, with warnings if necessary, in accordance with Standard P1.
b Content should not include any combinations of violence and sex designed to titillate.
c Rape as a theme in any context should be treated with utmost care. Explicit detail and prolonged focus on sexually violent contact should be avoided.
d Devices and methods of inflicting pain or injury, particularly when capable of easy imitations, should not screen without the most careful consideration by the broadcaster.
e Violent incidents during or surrounding play in sporting coverage should not be gratuitously repeated.
a Content should not promote serious anti-social or illegal behaviour.
b News or events should not be simulated in a way which encourages widespread public alarm.
a Factual content which clearly approaches such issues from a particular perspective may not be
required to be balanced but should be fair in accordance with standard P7.
b No set formula can be advanced for the allocation of time to interested parties on controversial issues.
a The editing of extracts of programme material should not distort the original event or original
b People should not be portrayed in a way which represents them as inherently inferior or which
encourages discrimination against a section of the community protected by human rights legislation.
c Children and young people taking part or referred to should not be exploited, humiliated or
d Nothing in this standard is intended to prevent the broadcast of content which is:
i. factual, or
ii. the expression of a genuinely-held opinion in news, current affairs or other factual
iii. in the legitimate context of a dramatic, humorous or satirical work.
Liquor Promotion comprises:
a Liquor Promotion must not appear in programmes specifically directed at children.
b Broadcasters must ensure that Liquor Promotion does not dominate programmes.
c Broadcasters are not required to exclude promotion from coverage of an actual event or
situation being broadcast where promotion is a normal feature of the event or situation but must
take guideline (b) into account.
d Sponsorship of a programme must be confined to the brand, name or logo and must not include a
sponsor's sales message.
e Promos for a liquor-sponsored programme shall clearly and primarily promote the programme. The
sponsor and sponsorship may be featured only in a subordinate manner, be confined to the brand,
name or logo and must not include a sponsor's sales message.
f When scheduling liquor-sponsored programmes, broadcasters must also take into account the
requirements of principle 4.4 and Guideline 4(c) of the Advertising Standards Authority's Code for
Advertising Liquor (which requiresbroadcasters to take care to avoid the impression that liquor
promotion is dominating the viewing period).
g In the preparation and presentation of programmes, broadcasters must avoid advocacy of excessive
To assist programme makers, sports organisations and sponsors, broadcasters have published guidelines for restrictions on Liquor Promotion in the coverage of sports events. The guidelines can be viewed here:
1. It is inconsistent with an individual’s privacy to allow the public disclosure of private facts, where the
disclosure is highly offensive to an objective reasonable person.
2. It is inconsistent with an individual’s privacy to allow the public disclosure of some kinds of public
facts. The ‘public’ facts contemplated concern events (such as criminal behaviour) which have, in
effect, become private again, for example through the passage of time. Nevertheless, the public
disclosure of public facts will have to be highly offensive to an objective reasonable person.
3. (a) It is inconsistent with an individual’s privacy to allow the public disclosure of material obtained by
intentionally interfering, in the nature of prying, with that individual’s interest in solitude or seclusion.
The intrusion must be highly offensive to an objective reasonable person.
(b) In general, an individual’s interest in solitude or seclusion does not prohibit recording, filming, or
photographing that individual in a public place (‘the public place exemption’).
(c) The public place exemption does not apply when the individual whose privacy has allegedly been
infringed was particularly vulnerable, and where the disclosure is highly offensive to an objective
4. The protection of privacy includes the protection against the disclosure by the broadcaster, without
consent, of the name and/or address and/or telephone number of an identifiable individual, in
circumstances where the disclosure is highly offensive to an objective reasonable person.
5. It is a defence to a privacy complaint that the individual whose privacy is allegedly infringed by the
disclosure complained about gave his or her informed consent to the disclosure. A guardian of a child
can consent on behalf of that child.
6. Children’s vulnerability must be a prime concern to broadcasters, even when informed consent has
been obtained. Where a broadcast breaches a child’s privacy, broadcasters shall satisfy themselves
that the broadcast is in the child’s best interests, regardless of whether consent has been obtained.
7. For the purpose of these Principles only, a ‘child’ is defined as someone under the age of 16 years. An
individual aged 16 years or over can consent to broadcasts that would otherwise breach their privacy.
8. Disclosing the matter in the ‘public interest’, defined as of legitimate concern or interest to the public,
is a defence to a privacy complaint.