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 on programme classification and audience advisories (including warnings). The Radio Code contains standards relating to audience advisories.
Broadcasters must ensure programmes are appropriately classified and consider the use of audience advisories where appropriate. The standards also set out the requirements for the broadcast of promos (short adverts for upcoming programmes). This is to ensure audiences are properly informed about programme content and can make appropriate choices on what children should watch.
Timebands and children's viewing/listening times
Radio doesn’t have a classification or timeband system. However, radio stations should issue an audience advisory where the content is outside audience expectations. Stations should also moderate their content at times when children are most likely to be listening – in the morning before and immediately after, school.
On free-to-air TV children's normal viewing times usually run until 8.30pm (though times may differ during weekends and school holidays: see the Children's Interests standard and guidelines). Different classifications can play at different times throughout the day and evening, referred to as timebands. M content can only be played during the day on weekdays when children are at school, and after 7.30pm. M content cannot be shown during the day on weekends, or school or public holidays. We refer to 8.30pm as the ‘watershed', after which programmes rated 16 can be screened. Programmes rated 18 can only be screened after 9.30pm. 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 TV has had a different classification environment from free-to-air TV. The classification labels are consistent across both. But pay TV does not have timebands, as it has long-established audience expectations over the promotion and use of parental locks, classifications and advisories. Essentially, this means subscription 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.