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Television: Standards

Volume 490: debated on Monday 30 March 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if he will make an assessment of levels of use of blasphemous language in television programmes. (266918)

Responsibility for what is broadcast on television and radio rests with the broadcasters and the organisations which regulate broadcasting—the Office of Communications (Ofcom), the BBC Trust and the Welsh Fourth Channel Authority (S4C)—within the overall framework set by the Communications Act 2003 and the BBC Charter and Agreement.

In relation to broadcasting, Parliament has charged Ofcom with maintaining standards, notably to protect children and to protect the general public from harmful and offensive material. The Ofcom Broadcasting Code therefore sets out the rules with which broadcasters must comply. Ofcom also produce guidance notes to assist broadcasters interpret and apply the Broadcasting Code. In addition, the BBC’s editorial guidelines provide clear advice on the standards expected of all BBC content on television and radio. The S4C Compliance Guidelines also provide guidance on the standards expected of all content broadcast on S4C.

Within this framework, it is the broadcasters’ job to make judgments about what individual programmes should contain and the time at which they are broadcast. It is a long-standing principle that the Government do not interfere in programme matters, either on arrangements for scheduling or on content.