Standards of taste and decency

Sections 3(4)(h) and 319(2)(a) and (f) of the Communications Act 2003, Article 27 of the Audiovisual
Media Services and Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights all cover the regulations
of broadcasting to ensure that under 18s are protected from what they may come across on TV.
The regulations state that:
1. Children (people under the age of fifteen) must be protected by the use of appropriate
scheduling. This means that channels must schedule programmes judged on their content,
likely number of children in the audience taking into account school holidays and weekends
and the start and finish time of the programme itself.
2. Material that could impact the development of people under the age on eighteen should not
be broadcast. (footage that is inappropriate for their age or too visual)
3. Broadcasters must take into account the watershed regulation, which means that
programmes unsuitable for children should be shown after 9:00pm and before 5:30am,
when children will most likely be in bed and will not come across the footage that their
parents are watching.
4. The feature of drugs, smoking, solvents and alcohol should not be used in programmes that
are primarily created for children unless there is a strong justification (educational etc.) and
should not be encouraged or glamorised in any way.
5. Violence and dangerous behaviour should also not be featured in programmes created for
children and should not be broadcast before the watershed unless there is justification. They
should not include any behaviour that can be easily imitated by children.
6. The most offensive language must not be used in programmes for younger children and
should not be broadcast before the watershed.
7. Sexual material that is equivalent to the British Board of Film Classification rating eighteen
should not be broadcast at any time. Rating 18 material includes anything that is too graphic
or explicit.
8. Any content that contains images/language of a strong sexual nature should not be shown at
any time other than between 10:00pm and 5:30am. This also includes representations of
sexual intercourse which should not be shown before the watershed, unless there is a
serious educational purpose.
9. Nudity should not be shown before the watershed unless it has been justified (educational
10. No programme that has been refused classification should be broadcasted as it could have
been rejected according to the standards.
11. The programme must also include information that will assist adults when assessing the
suitability of the programme for their children. (Product placement, content etc.)
12. Demonstrations of exorcism and the paranormal must not be shown before the watershed
and should not be broadcast when it is believed that there is a large number of children
13. If participants under eighteens are to be shown then care must be taken over the physical
and emotional welfare and dignity of the people who are involved, and they should not be
subject to unnecessary stress or anxiety due to their involvement. The actors must always
consent to what they are doing, and irrespective of their consent should still be respected.
Commercial references in programmes are also controlled by regulations set by Ofcom. These
regulations are made up by a number of rules:
1. Broadcasters must maintain independent editorial control over their programming, and not
let commercial sponsorships take hold.
2. Broadcasters must also ensure that editorial content can be identified and not be too similar
to their advertising.
3. ‘Surreptitious advertising’ is where the broadcaster intends to advertise but this is not made
clear to the audience, and this is not prohibited.
4. Programmes like the BBC are not allowed to accept types of commercial revenue as they are
funded primarily from a TV licence.
5. Product placement should not be included in programmes that are made for children, or on
the news.
6. Product placement must not influence the content or scheduling if it affects the
independence of the broadcaster.
7. Cigarettes or other tobacco products and prescription-only medicines are prohibited from
using product placement.
8. Sponsorship of a programme must following the scheduling rules that apply to TV
9. Promotional material should not be shown in trailers and all trailers shown before the
watershed, meaning that some trailers need to be edited to make them appropriate.
The regulations also state that the content involved should be subject to certain rules to ensure
soaps are not discriminating religion or glamorising crime. It is stated that:
1. Broadcasters must portray religion is a respectful way, and not abuse the thoughts and
beliefs of a certain religion.
2. Broadcasters should not include any content that may be seen as encouraging crime. They
must not demonstrate crime in such a way that criminal techniques are presented.
3. Broadcasters must not include any promise of payment storyline involving convicted
criminals in its programmes.
4. Broadcasters should not produce material that could be seen to endanger lives (material
that contains criminal technique etc).
Hypodermic Needle
The hypodermic needle theory describes that mass media has a direct, immediate and powerful
effect on its consumers. It is believed that media can influence behaviour changes as the producer
has the power to present a certain message to the audience. The media can influence the audience
by ‘shooting’ the audience with information to trigger a desired response. The regulations protect
the public from being made subjective to certain information that could convey a negative message
to the audience, such as the use of drugs or crime.
Uses & Gratification
This theory concentrates on why audience watch certain programmes. This theory emphasizes the
fact that unlike the hypodermic needle theory the audience are not helpless and simply use soaps to
fulfil their needs. It is believed that people watch soap trailers for a number of reasons including:
 Fulfilling individual needs (entertainment, being alone etc)
 Social interaction
 Escapism
 Critical game involving recognisable conventions
 Domestic routine
 Entertaining reward
 Focus of debate or topics
The reception theory by Stuart Hall assesses how the audience interpret a media text. It is believed
that the audience are not just passive, but interpret media texts based on their cultural background
and life experiences, which cause the audience to interpret the meaning of a text differently. There
are three different types of reception including hegemonic, negotiated and counter-hegemonic.
Dominant reading is where the reader fully accepts the texts meaning and interprets it in a natural
way. Negotiated reading is where the reader only partly shares the texts codes and accepts its
preferred reading, but sometimes modifies it to fit their lifestyle and experiences. The oppositional
reading means that the reader is placed in a completely contrasting position to the text and does not
share any similarities with it, causing them to ‘bear an alternative frame of reference’ e.g. feminist.