A new Codebook designed to make broadcast standards simpler, clearer and more user-friendly for broadcasters and audiences comes into effect from today.

The Revised Handbook of Broadcasting Standards Codes outlines requirements for television and radio programming, which viewers and listeners can complain about if they believe they have been breached.

It has been developed by broadcasters and the Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA) in consultation with other stakeholders and the public, and replaces the May 2020 version.

The new Code is the result of a review to ensure that standards and guidelines reflect the diversity of today’s society and broadcasting environment. The main changes include:

  • Combination of the previous three codes for Pay TV, Free TV and Radio into one simplified code.
  • Streamlining and combining some standards that cover related issues.
  • Update the guidelines for the Discrimination and Denigration Standard to clarify its application to content that reinforces negative stereotypes.
  • An obligation for broadcasters to correct clerical errors of fact within the accuracy standard.
  • Update guidance/commentary on how the standards apply, shaped by previous BSA rulings.
  • Refresh the language to make it easier to understand.
  • Updated guidance to clarify the requirements for a formal complaint and the types of complaints broadcasters can treat as comments only.

The new Code is available in English and Reo Maori and is being translated into several other languages.

It will apply to all programs broadcast from July 1, 2022. Complaints about broadcasts before July 1 will continue to be made under the old Codebook which is still available on the BSA website.

Helen Cruse, BSA Acting Chief Executive, said: “The Broadcasting Standards Codebook is essential to realizing our vision of safe freedom of expression on television and radio.

“We now have a code that better reflects current industry and community expectations, as well as current public attitudes, values ​​and behaviors. It also aligns, where appropriate, with frameworks overseen by other content standardization entities, which will help ensure a more integrated regulatory system.

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