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Monday, 30 July, 2001, 10:31 GMT 11:31 UK
What does the ITC do?
Woman watching TV
The ITC can revoke broadcasters' licences
The main role of the Independent Television Commission (ITC) is as a watchdog for commercial TV in the UK by regulating and licensing it.

It aims to "look after viewers' interests" by setting and maintaining the standards for programmes, advertising and technical quality.

As an independent body, it is funded by fees paid by its licensees.

Although it has no power to vet programmes or issue directions about scheduling, it can insist that if a show is found to have breached its code, it cannot be re-screened in the same format.

The ITC is an independent body
In most cases, breaches of the code are dealt with by means of a public reprimand.

But other possible sanctions include an unlimited fine - in December 1998 the ITC fined Carlton £2m for a faked exposť of a Colombian drug running operation.

It could even revoke a channel's licence - in April 1999 it pulled the licence of the London-based Kurdish satellite station Med TV for breaking its rules on impartiality, and using Britain as a platform for inciting violence.

Under its powers, derived from the Broadcasting Acts of 1990 and 1996, the ITC can do the following:

  • Issue licences that allow commercial TV companies to broadcast in and from the UK
  • Regulate these services by monitoring broadcasters' performance against the requirements of the ITC's guidelines on programme content, advertising and sponsorship and technical performance
  • Investigate complaints and regularly publish its findings
  • Ensure a wide range of TV services is available and that these are of a high quality and appeal to a range of tastes and interests
  • Ensure fair and effective competition in the provision of these services

However, the ITC does not do the following:

  • Make or schedule programmes/advertisements
  • Regulate BBC One, BBC Two or S4C, although any commercial services provided by these broadcasters must be licensed by the ITC
  • Vet or preview - it can only consider programmes and advertisements once they have been broadcast
  • Regulate satellite channels from other countries
  • Deal with transmission breakdowns or problems arising from the installation of television equipment
  • Make judgements on the artistic merit or entertainment value of TV advertising.

See also:

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