Guidelines

Section 5: Harm and Offence

Hypnotism, Exorcism, the Occult and the Paranormal

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  1. Hypnotism
  2. Exorcism, the Occult and the Paranormal
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Hypnotism

5.4.54

The Hypnotism Act 1952 requires any demonstrations of hypnotism for public entertainment to be licensed.  It prohibits demonstrations on people under 18 and applies to any broadcast demonstration of hypnotism at, or in connection with, an entertainment which admits the public. 

Although we have no evidence of harm or potential harm regarding the use of hypnosis in our output, we should still take steps to minimise any risk of inducing hypnosis and/or adverse reactions in susceptible viewers, listeners or online users.  In particular, a hypnotist must not broadcast his/her full verbal routine or be shown performing straight to camera.  Hypnotism acts, particularly those designed to ridicule someone, should be treated with care in entertainment programmes.  They might be both harmful and offensive to our audience. 

Any proposal to feature a demonstration of hypnosis must be referred to a senior editorial figure or, for independents, to the commissioning editor.

Exorcism, the Occult and the Paranormal

5.4.55

We must act responsibly when including material looking at any aspect of exorcism, the occult, the paranormal, divination or any related practices. 

Demonstrations which purport to be real must not be shown before the watershed or on radio when children are particularly likely to be in our audience, or in online content likely to appeal to a significant proportion of children. 

Paranormal practices for entertainment purposes (not including drama, film or comedy) must not be broadcast when significant numbers of children may be expected to be watching or are particularly likely to be in our radio audience or using our online content.

5.4.56

At any time, demonstrations of exorcism, the occult, the paranormal, divination or any related practices in factual programmes must be treated with objectivity appropriate to the output.  In entertainment programmes they must be clearly labelled.  In all our output, such demonstrations must not contain advice about health, finance, employment or relationships which encourages people to make life-changing decisions. 

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