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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 July, 2004, 10:38 GMT 11:38 UK
TV guidelines to protect children
New guidelines to protect children from sex and violence on TV have been drawn up by media watchdog Ofcom.

The group has set out a code which would safeguard under-15s from material deemed offensive or harmful.

At the same time, Ofcom intends to take a less hands-on approach to regulating adult material - putting the onus on broadcasters to be "more responsible".

Ofcom said it was seeking a balance between protecting children and a need for "challenging" programmes.

Ofcom's draft Broadcasting Code also sets out proposed sponsorship rules for radio and TV broadcasters.

'Simpler rules'

It suggests relaxing sponsorship rules to give broadcasters greater freedom to operate "within clearly defined limits".

The code replaces previous rules set by Ofcom's predecessors, the Broadcasting Standards Commission, the Independent Television Commission and the Radio Authority.

Based on last year's Communications Act and research from 6,000 households, the code promises broadcasters "a simpler and clearer rulebook".

Ofcom said its proposals to protect children were backed by parents, with 85% of adults saying Ofcom should make children "a priority".

Ofcom said it intended to guarantee freedom of expression for programme-makers with a "less intrusive regulatory approach to material intended for adult audiences".

Emphasis

"Broadcasters will... be expected to exercise greater responsibility for ensuring adult viewers and listeners are informed about the contents of programmes," it said.

Ofcom said it would place greater emphasis on the context of a programme when considering matters of alleged harm or offence.

Factors to be considered would include audience expectation, the type of programme, the channel and the time of broadcast.

The public's responses must be submitted by October. The code will come in to effect next March.




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