About the Broadcast and On Demand Bulletin

Published: 13 January 2020
Last updated: 16 March 2023

Under the Communications Act 2003 (“the Act”), Ofcom has a duty to set standards for broadcast content to secure the standards objectives1. Ofcom also has a duty to ensure that On Demand Programme Services (“ODPS”) comply with certain standards requirements set out in the Act2.

Ofcom reflects these requirements in its codes and rules. The Broadcast and On Demand Bulletin reports on the outcome of Ofcom’s investigations into alleged breaches of its codes and rules, as well as conditions with which broadcasters licensed by Ofcom are required to comply. The codes and rules include:

a) Ofcom’s Broadcasting Code (“the Code”) for content broadcast on television and radio services licensed by Ofcom, and for content on the BBC’s licence fee funded television, radio and on demand services.

b) the Code on the Scheduling of Television Advertising (“COSTA”), containing rules on how much advertising and teleshopping may be scheduled on commercial television, how many breaks are allowed and when they may be taken.

c) certain sections of the BCAP Code: the UK Code of Broadcast Advertising, for which Ofcom retains regulatory responsibility for television and radio services. These include:

  • the prohibition on ‘political’ advertising;
  • ‘participation TV’ advertising, e.g. long-form advertising predicated on premium rate telephone services – notably chat (including ‘adult’ chat), ‘psychic’ readings and dedicated quiz TV (Call TV quiz services); and
  • gambling, dating and ‘message board’ material where these are broadcast as advertising3.

d) other conditions with which Ofcom licensed services must comply, such as requirements to pay fees and submit information required for Ofcom to carry out its statutory duties. Further information can be found on Ofcom’s website for television broadcast licences and radio broadcast licences.

e) Ofcom’s Statutory Rules and Non-Binding Guidance for Providers of On-Demand Programme Services for editorial content on ODPS (apart from BBC ODPS). Ofcom considers sanctions for advertising content on ODPS referred to it by the Advertising Standards Authority (“ASA”), the co-regulator of ODPS for advertising, or may do so as a concurrent regulator.

Other codes and requirements may also apply to broadcasters, depending on their circumstances. These include the requirements in the BBC Agreement, the Code on Television Access Services (which sets out how much subtitling, signing and audio description relevant licensees must provide), the Code on Electronic Programme Guides, the Code on Listed Events, and the Cross Promotion Code.

It is Ofcom’s policy to describe fully television, radio and on demand content. Some of the language and descriptions used in Ofcom’s Broadcast and On Demand Bulletin may therefore cause offence.

1. The relevant legislation is set out in detail in Annex 1 of the Code.

2. The relevant legislation can be found at Part 4A of the Act.

3 BCAP and ASA continue to regulate conventional teleshopping content and spot advertising for these types of services where it is permitted. Ofcom remains responsible for statutory sanctions in all advertising cases.

If you have any feedback on the Broadcast and On Demand Bulletin, please email bulletinfeedback@ofcom.org.uk
Back to top