Frequently asked questions Ngā Pātai e Kaha Whiua Nei

TV and Radio

Under the Broadcasting Act 1989, the BSA does not generally have any power to cancel programmes or to take them off air. In certain circumstances, if the BSA upholds a complaint, the BSA can order the withdrawal of further programmes forming part of a series or order a broadcaster to refrain from broadcasting for limited periods (up to 24 hours for each programme in respect of which a complaint has been upheld). This power is exercised rarely.

The BSA cannot generally stop a programme from airing. If you are concerned about whether scheduled content should be aired, please contact the broadcaster directly.

Read about what we do and the orders we can make.

The BSA does not approve programmes before they are aired or make decisions about what programmes can be aired. Programme selection, editorial and scheduling decisions are the responsibility of individual broadcasters.  If you are concerned about whether scheduled content should be aired, please contact the broadcaster directly.

If you would like to make a complaint about a broadcast once it has aired, you can find more information here

Broadcaster contact details

The BSA can only respond to formal complaints about broadcast content once it has been aired. We are unable to take any action prior to a programme being broadcast (unless it falls within the BSA’s limited power to stop further programmes within a series in certain circumstances).

If you have concerns about a programme before it has been aired, these are best directed to the relevant broadcaster.  

The Broadcasting Standards Codes describe the classifications (ratings) that broadcasters must use for programmes. Broadcasters undertake the appraisal and classification of programmes for broadcast in-house. The BSA does not decide what ratings or classifications apply to programmes.

If you have any questions about the classifications that apply to a programme, these are best directed to the relevant broadcaster.

If you think that a classification was not adequate for the broadcast content, you can make a formal complaint to the broadcaster in the first instance.

The BSA does not review or provide examples of warnings or audience advisories, as the wording required will be context-specific. The broadcaster is required under the broadcasting standards to determine what language is used in an audience advisory.

If you think that a warning was not adequate for the broadcast content, you can make a formal complaint to the broadcaster in the first instance.

The BSA does not make programme scheduling decisions. This is the responsibility of individual broadcasters. You can provide feedback about the scheduling of a programme (the time it is shown) to the broadcaster.

If you would like to make a complaint under broadcasting standards about a programme that you think should not have been aired at that time of the day or evening, you can make a formal complaint to the broadcaster in the first instance.

For more information, see the complaints process.

For guidance on which standards apply see choosing a standard.

The BSA does not have any power to monitor broadcasters, or to take action against a broadcaster outside of the formal complaints process. The BSA’s jurisdiction is triggered only when a formal complaint is made to the broadcaster, the broadcaster has responded to the complaint and the complainant has referred the complaint to us within the required timeframes. There are two exceptions, privacy and election programme complaints, which may be made directly to the BSA.

The BSA is unable to provide specific advice about whether certain content might breach broadcasting standards, as this might risk pre-determining the Authority’s views if a complaint about this content were to come before it.

All of the BSA’s decisions are available on our website here and are a useful resource. The decisions contain guidance from the Authority about the standards and it may be that the Authority has considered a similar issue before.

We are also able to provide general guidance about broadcasting standards and the factors the Authority might consider when looking at broadcasting standards complaints. If you have a question, please feel free to contact us.  

A publicity notice is a promo by a broadcaster that publicises the procedure for making complaints. Broadcasters are required to broadcast publicity notices. This ensures the audience knows they can make complaints about a programme if they think it has breached broadcasting standards. This is a legislative requirement from section 6(1)(ba) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.

For more information, see Publicity Notices.