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television Watershed

The 9pm Watershed in television

In the UK, the BBC has a well-established policy of making 9pm the pivotal point of the evening's television, a Watershed before which, except in exceptional circumstances, all programmes on our domestic channels should be suitable for a general audience including children.

The earlier in the evening a programme is placed, the more suitable it is likely to be for children to watch on their own.

The Watershed reminds broadcasters that particular care should be taken over inclusion of explicit scenes of sex and violence, and the use of strong language.

Particular care should also be taken in the period immediately after the Watershed.

There should be a gradual transition towards more adult material and sudden changes in tone should be avoided but, where unavoidable, they must be clearly signposted. Adult material should never be positioned close to the Watershed simply to attract audiences in a sensationalist way.

Material which is particularly adult in tone should be scheduled at an appropriate time, where necessary sometime after the Watershed.

The post Watershed period runs from 2100 until 05:30 the following morning.

No trail for a post-Watershed programme should be scheduled next to a programme specifically targeted at children.

Particular care needs to be taken when editing pictures for news bulletins and factual programmes likely to be seen by vulnerable groups such as children.

Care is also needed in deciding the frequency of scenes of violence in news bulletins on mainstream channels, particularly during the daytime when children could be watching.

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