We deal with most content on television, radio and video on demand services, but there are some areas where we share responsibility with another regulator.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) handles complaints about most types of broadcast advertising on our behalf. The BBC Trust retains responsibility for some areas on the BBC's public service channels, for example impartiality and accuracy.
If you're not sure if you should submit your complaint to us or another body, click on Make a Complaint, answer a few quick questions and we'll tell you if you need to complain to us or another body.
To find out more about Ofcom's rules click on the links below.
Our rules for television and radio programmes are set out in the Broadcasting Code.
This code is the rule book that broadcasters have to follow and it covers a number of areas, including:
To help ensure that broadcasters follow the rules in the Broadcasting Code, we publish detailed guidance for broadcasters on what the rules mean and how we apply them.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) handles complaints about most types of broadcast advertising on our behalf and enforces rules in the BCAP Code: the UK Code of Broadcast Advertising. However, there are some areas of that Code which Ofcom enforces. These include:
The Code on the Scheduling of Television Advertising sets out rules on the amount of advertising allowed on television.
Subtitling, sign language on TV and audio description, known as television access services, help people with hearing or visual impairments to understand and enjoy television.
The Code on Television Access Services sets outs the requirements placed on certain broadcasters to provide access services. Guidance on practices to be followed in providing these services is set out in Appendix 2 to this code.
Ofcom ensures that broadcasters provide a minimum proportion of their programmes with television access services. Ofcom publishes information about the amounts of television access services that broadcasters are required to provide and what they actually deliver.
Ofcom licenses radio and television stations to broadcast their services. Those licences contain a number of requirements such as the broadcaster's obligation to provide Ofcom with information and recordings. Some of the licences also contain rules about what type of content may be broadcast, for example the type of music a radio station plays, a community radio station's commitments or the amount of subtitling on TV.
The Broadcasting Code was first introduced in 2005, following a full public consultation on the rules. Ofcom reviews its rules from time to time, and we always conduct public consultations when we do so, to make sure we take the public's views into account. Find out more about Ofcom's consultations.
Regulated video on demand services must ensure that:
Incitement to hatred:
Commercial references in programmes:
There are also rules about how service providers should operate.
Subtitling, signing and audio description:
Currently the law requiring broadcasters to provide access services does not extend to video on demand programme services. We encourage video on demand service providers to make their services progressively more accessible to people with sensory impairments.
The rules replicate minimum standards under European law.