Television is popular in the United Kingdom, and is censored heavily compared to other mediums within the UK.
Authorised (and obliged) by the Communications Act 2003 (UK), ofcom set out guidelines for what may/may not be shown, and can impose penalties for non-complying broadcasters. The BBC is exempt from certain censors, but is also censored by the BBC Trust. x
Ofcom claim that the following were the main things concidered whilst drawing up the code
- the degree of harm and offence likely to be caused by the inclusion of any particular sort of material in programmes generally or in programmes of a particular description;
- the likely size and composition of the potential audience for programmes included in television and radio services generally or in television and radio services of a particular description;
- the likely expectation of the audience as to the nature of a programme’s content and the extent to which the nature of a programme’s content can be brought to the attention of potential members of the audience;
- the likelihood of persons who are unaware of the nature of a programme’s content being unintentionally exposed, by their own actions, to that content;
- the desirability of securing that the content of services identifies when there is a change affecting the nature of a service that is being watched or listened to and, in particular, a change that is relevant to the application of the standards set under this section;
- the desirability of maintaining the independence of editorial control over programme content.
however, they do also state that "Material that might seriously impair the physical, mental or moral development of people under eighteen must not be broadcast" and talk about "protecting them from unsuitable material", so there you go.
'Unless justified' is bandied about the regulations without an explanation as far as I can see, except (possibly) a few refferences to the EU Bill of Human Rights, which guarantees free expression
Anecdotally, 'justification' seems to be intellectual: so, a program on drugs can break some/all of the rules on drugs as long as it's objective, but a program can't go 'hey, I love drugs' as that would be glamorisation? maybe?
The following is in addition to anything else that it's illegal to distribute in general, e.g. child porn
- anything which goes against generally accepted standards of harmful and/or offensive material, if not justified
- offensive language, violence, sex, sexual violence, humiliation, distress, violation of human dignity, discriminatory treatment or language (for example on the grounds of age, disability, gender, race, religion, beliefs and sexual orientation).
- objectively misleading, proportedly factual programs
- Anything that condones or glamorises violent, dangerous, seriously antisocial behaviour, or crime; anything explaining how to commit a crime
- Methods of suicide and self-harm unless justified
- Demonstrations of exorcism, the occult, the paranormal, divination, etc that shows them to be real (religious programs are dealt with seperately)
- anything along the lines of viewer hypnosis/subliminal messages, anything that might trigger epilepsy (unless the latter can't be avoided)
- The religious views and beliefs of those belonging to a particular religion or religious denomination must not be subject to abusive treatment
- stealth preaching. religious recruiting.
- various regulations, some of which could be considered censorship, relating to news programmes.
- anything likely to affect an election after polls have opened; appearances in non-political programs by polititians during election/refferendum period; various other regulations
- unjust, unfair or invasive treatment of individuals or organisations, unless justified
- advertisements of any kind in the news; in-program advertisements (product placement)
'children' are further 'protected' by censorship:
- Material that might seriously impair the physical, mental or moral development of people under eighteen must not be broadcast.
- under 15's must also be protected from material that is unsuitable for them
- information as to the identity of victims, witnesses, or accused victims of crimes if under 15
- use of illegal drugs, the abuse of drugs, smoking, solvent abuse and the misuse of alcohol without good reason, in which case it must not be condoned.
- violence, without good reason
- most offensive language
- any swearing, without good reason
- sex, without 'serious educational justification'
- discussion of sex, without good reason
- Exorcism, the occult and the paranormal that claim to be real (at all), for entertainment (if lots of kids will be watching); exception for drama, comedy, etc.
- adverts for films, channels, etc of an adult nature.
- anything shot without under 18's consent, etc.
- anything claiming that a living member of a religion having special powers, if many children are watching
- anything censored so that under 15's can't have access to them applies before 9:00pm or after 5:30am; this being 8:00pm on certain channels, and non-existant on certain pay-channels.
Generally, channels voluntarily don't break the regulations.
When they do, what happens?
TV adverts are even more censored