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
Formal complaints must be in writing (post, email or online form) 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:
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
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:
Postal addresses for the broadcasters can be found on their websites.
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.