Underlying this is a framework of quotas and rules determined by the regulator. ITV operates under the requirements of the Communications Act 2003. ITV channels and regional stations are licensed by the Office of Communications (Ofcom).
Our licence requirements include the statutory Ofcom Broadcasting Code. This sets rigorous editorial standards on issues such as privacy, impartiality and family viewing. Our licence also includes quotas for certain categories of programming which have a public service aspect.
The Broadcasting Code
ITV operates under the Ofcom Broadcasting Code (which replaced the previous ITC Programme Code on 25 July 2005). Like its predecessor, the new Code sets out the standards that audiences are entitled to expect from all commercial television services in the UK. These include principles, rules and guidance to protect against harm or offence, and ensure that broadcasters maintain due impartiality, fairness and respect for privacy, while upholding freedom of speech and editorial integrity. The Code underpins our relationship with viewers, supporting confidence in our programmes (the Code is available at www.ofcom.org.uk/tv/ifi/codes/bcode).
No set of rules can provide a complete guide to all the issues encountered in programme-making or broadcasting. ITV's Compliance Unit has a team of 23 experts who guide programme-makers and broadcasters in dealing with difficult and potentially controversial issues during the journey to screen.
We make every effort to ensure that children are not exposed to images, language and ideas that might be harmful to them. Our approach follows the Family Viewing Policy, part of the Broadcasting Code. We schedule our programmes so that material that is unsuitable for children is not transmitted before the watershed (9 pm). The number of children watching television declines progressively up till 9 pm, from which point it is assumed that the audience is predominantly adult.
We take particular care over soap operas that deal with topical social issues but are usually transmitted before the watershed and attract significant numbers of young viewers.
Viewers are more likely to be offended by the content of a particular programme if it takes them by surprise. To minimise this, we broadcast on-screen information before programmes, alerting viewers to issues such as strong language, violence or sexual themes. We also give viewers advance information about our programmes, in on-screen promotions and off-screen publicity and listings.
ITV is required to show "due impartiality" in all programming which deals with controversial issues and current public policy. The law also requires that our news coverage, whatever the subject, is presented with due accuracy and impartiality.
As a major source of news and opinion, ITV's journalists, editors and producers must exercise judgement, and debate and weigh up the evidence in every programme they deliver to ensure it is presented accurately and impartially. (See Independent Reporting)
When television portrays real life, whether filming in secret for documentaries, reporting on individuals in the news or broadcasting reality TV shows, it must have proper regard for the privacy of individuals. ITV strives to balance the public interest with respect for an individual's reasonable expectation of privacy, as required by the Broadcasting Code.
Despite our best efforts, there will inevitably be occasions when we make a mistake or misjudgement and we broadcast something that breaches the Code. When this happens there are several different ways for the public to make a complaint. They can contact their local ITV station, ITV itself or they can complain directly to Ofcom.
We take all viewers' opinions seriously and consider every complaint we get. If a viewer is not satisfied with our reply they can complain directly to Ofcom. All complaints are logged by Duty Officers and if a programme causes a significant number of complaints Ofcom must be alerted. All Ofcom's decisions are published in their Programme Complaint Bulletin on the Ofcom website (www.ofcom.org.uk).
In 2004, Ofcom dealt with complaints about 550 ITV programmes. Of these, 526 were not upheld. Complaints about seven programmes were resolved to Ofcom's satisfaction. Complaints about 17 programmes were upheld.
ITV is a Commercial Public Service Broadcaster (CPSB) which means our licence requires us to broadcast programmes which have a public service aspect e.g. children's programmes, news, and current affairs. Services to support access for deaf and blind people such as subtitling, audio description and signing are also covered.
ITV's large programme budget supports a significant part of the creative and technical workforce in the UK. Independent production accounts for 33%. This ensures our investment is spread around the country encouraging diverse views and avoiding a narrow, London-centred perspective. ITV produces more of its network programming outside London than any other UK broadcaster.
Public service broadcasting
|News and weather||392|
|AE + Social Action||178|
|Subtitling (per week)||123 hours|
|Audio description (per week)||9 hours|
|Signing (per week)||4.5 hours|
|Original all-time production||86%|
|Original peak-time production||97%|