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Broadcasting Standards Safeguards For Children Watching Television During Alert Level Restrictions

As the country prepares to move to alert level 3, with a large number of children continuing to learn from home during the school term, the Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA) highlights that important broadcasting standards aimed at protecting children from harmful content apply.

While children continue to be at home during the day, broadcasters must take care when programming daytime viewing and ensure safeguards are in place to protect children from harmful content. They must also provide programme information to enable parents and caregivers to make informed choices about what they will let their children watch.

Broadcasting standards obligations are reflected in the Children’s Interests and Programme Information standards and guide broadcasters to:

· Take into account the target and likely audience when scheduling content. Children’s normally accepted viewing times run up to 8.30pm

· Broadcast an audience advisory if content broadcast during children’s normally accepted viewing times is outside audience expectations and is likely to disturb children. The advisory should be specific and provide enough information to allow parents and caregivers to make informed choices about whether children in their care should watch

· Use judgement to decide the degree of graphic material to be included in news programmes and use audience advisories appropriately when children are likely to be viewing

· Ensure programmes are appropriately classified, and on free-to-air television played in the appropriate timeband.

The BSA recognises the important role that broadcasters play, in providing the community with a rich source of information and entertainment. It recognises that adults will also be seeking daytime programming during this time. It is therefore vital that parents and caregivers keep an eye on what their children are watching and listening to at home during the day, take note of the classifications and warnings, and use parental controls to manage viewing in their homes. Importantly, if children access content that is not suitable for them, it is important that they are able to talk to an adult in a supportive environment, so that they can make sense of what they have seen.

Information about classifications, timebands and tools to keep kids safe is available on www.safeviewing.co.nz – a website recently launched by the BSA about changes to classifications and timebands coming to free-to-air television on 1 May 2020.

Tips for supporting children and limiting harm from content is available in guidance issued by the BSA in 2019 following research into harms from nudity on screen on children and young people: Young People, Nudity and Harm.

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