What are the rules governing the 9pm watershed

01:00 Mon 14th May 2001 |

Q.� What are the rules governing the 9m watershed

A.� In November the Government announced the 9pm watershed would remain in place despite the growth of digital channels. It is effectively in place to stop the screening of explicit sex��or violence before 9pm because ministers believes this safeguards children.�

Q.� How do the various channels differ

A.� BBC One says the watershed is designed to protect children from material that may be unsuitable for them. It plans its schedule around the watershed although points out parents must share responsibility for children's viewing. Before 9pm BBC TV programmes are suitable for a general audience including children, progressively from 9pm, they are more suitable for adults. Warnings are carried before programmes with sensitive material are shown. The Independent Television Commission (ITC), which regulates programmes on ITV, Channel 4 and cable and satellite, insists programmes starting at 9pm and running to 10pm are suitable for family viewing. Their watershed prevents nudity, violence or sex being shown before 9pm. Their proposals, which have in the past included banning smoking in scenes without strong editorial justification, have angered programme makers, although most producers do adhere to the restrictions.

Q.� Have there been any notable complaints.

A.� One episide of the thriller Cracker which featured a rape scene was strongly censored. Last year, the ITV programme The Vice, shown between 9-10pm, caused the ITC to issue a formal warning to programme makers Carlton following breaches of the ITC programme code. The ITC said the programme involved hardcore pornographic material videos on sado-machistic themes which was unsuitable for the evening slot.

Q. What about BBC 2

A.� BBC One normally edits unsuitable language although there are exceptions when a film is shown uncut. BBC Two however has a slightly different policy although it still has to adhere to BBC

guidelines on taste and decency. A film is more likely to be uncut when a strong context is shown, for example, in Moving Pictures.

Q.� What about on the radio

A.�� The BBC says radio is a very different medium from television with different audiences at different times of the day, and so, it's more dificult to operate a watershed policy.� The BBC says it provides programmes for general audiences without issuing any such restrictions on writers and artists.

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By Katharine MacColl

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