Insights Ofcom publishes audience research and revised guidance on Section Two of Broadcasting Code: Harm and Offence


Ofcom has published revised guidance to broadcasters on their obligations to Section Two of the Broadcasting Code, which covers harm and offence, when airing content that carries potential risks to audiences.

The general principle behind Section Two is to ensure that generally accepted standards are applied to the content of television and radio services so as to provide adequate protection for members of the public from the inclusion in such services of harmful and/or offensive material. It must be read in conjunction with Section One: Protecting the Under-Eighteens.

Alongside this guidance, Ofcom has also published research on Health and wealth claims in programming: Audience attitudes to potential harm, which investigated audiences’ attitudes to potential harm in programmes that make claims about health or financial advice. On investigation, Ofcom identified that in some of these cases there was a risk that vulnerable viewers and listeners could:

  • be discouraged from seeking medical advice for potentially serious health concerns;
  • be discouraged from giving proper weight to that advice;
  • stop an existing course of medical treatment without proper advice;
  • be harmed by alternative treatments or their combination with conventional medicine; and
  • suffer financial loss or harm due to wealth advice or claims made in a programme.

Ofcom says that this qualitative research covers both general and religious programming and will be used to inform its decisions about whether potentially harmful content of this nature is in breach of the Broadcasting Code. To access the guidance, click here. To access the research, click here.