Classifications and timebands
Download a classification guide
Programme classifications and audience advisories
The Free-to-Air Television Code and the Pay Television Code both contain standards with requirements relating to programme classification and audience advisories (including warnings). The Radio Code contains standards relating to audience advisories.
These standards require broadcasters to ensure that programmes are appropriately classified, and to consider the use of audience advisories where appropriate. They also set out the requirements for the broadcast of promos (short advertisements for upcoming programmes). The purpose is to ensure that audiences are properly informed about the content of programmes on offer. It enables audiences to make appropriate choices about what children should watch.
Timebands and children's viewing/listening times
Radio does not have a prescribed classification or timeband system. However, radio broadcasters should issue an audience advisory where the content of a broadcast is outside audience expectations. All radio stations should also moderate their content at times when children are most likely to be listening – in the morning before school, and immediately after school.
On free-to-air television children's normal viewing times usually run until 8.30pm (though these times may differ during weekends and school holidays: see the Children's Interests standard and guidelines). We refer to 8.30pm as the 'Adults Only watershed', after which AO programmes may be screened. The classification guide above explains the timebands for each free-to-air classification.
Because of the special choice subscribers make in paying to receive broadcasts, pay television has a different classification environment from free-to-air television (these are explained in the classification guide below). Pay television has different labels and does not have timebands. This is largely because filtering/parental blocking technology allows parents and caregivers to control their children's access to certain programmes. Essentially, this means that pay television channels such as SKY can broadcast programmes at any time of the day with the expectation that classifications and advisories are used and parental locks are promoted.