Complain about a TV or radio programme
If you think a TV or radio programme hasn't followed the broadcasting standards, you can make a complaint.
1. What you can complain about
You have to complain within 20 working days of a programme airing. You can make a complaint about:
- free-to-air and pay TV programmes
- radio programmes
- TV and radio programmes live streaming online (but not on-demand)
- promos for programmes
- election advertisements on radio or television (during election periods).
You can’t complain about a programme before it’s aired.
2. Complain to the broadcaster first
You can phone or write to the broadcaster to make a complaint.
If you want a response or the option to escalate your complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA) later, you need to send them a formal complaint.
Making a formal complaint to the broadcaster
When you make your complaint, you need to know which of the broadcasting standards you think has been breached. Read the:
Within each standard, you can complain about:
- good taste and decency
- law and order
- the protection of children
- the promotion of alcohol
- the programme’s rating (eg G, PG, M)
- your privacy.
You’ll also need to know:
- the date of the broadcast
- the time of the broadcast
- the title of the programme
- the channel or station which broadcast the programme.
If you’re complaining that your privacy’s been breached, you can make a privacy complaint directly to the BSA.
3. Response from the broadcaster
After a broadcaster receives your complaint, they have 20 working days to send you a decision. They have to:
- send you a written response
- tell you whether or not they agree with you, and if they’re going to do anything about it
- let you know that you can refer your complaint to the BSA if you’re not happy.
They can ask you for another 20 working days if your complaint is complex — but they have to ask before the original 20 working days are up.
If you don’t get a response
If you haven’t had any response in 20 working days, you can take your complaint directly to the BSA.
Note: There are no "working days" between December 25 and January 15.
4. Refer your complaint to the BSA if you’re still not happy
You can refer your complaint to the BSA if:
- you’re not happy with the broadcaster’s response
- they didn’t respond to you within 20 working days.
You have 20 working days from receiving a response from a broadcaster to refer your complaint to the BSA.
The BSA will:
- send a copy of your complaint to the broadcaster and ask them for comment
- ask them for a recording of the broadcast.
If the broadcaster makes any further comments, the BSA will send them to you and ask you for any final response. Anything you say will be sent on to the broadcaster.
Once everyone’s sent in their comments, the BSA board will discuss your complaint at their next meeting. They meet every 5 weeks.
The board can:
- agree with your complaint and make an order
- agree with or reject your complaint and release a public decision.
The board can order the broadcaster to:
- pay up to $5,000 in costs to the Crown
- pay costs to you of up to $5,000 if they’ve breached your privacy
- pay your legal costs
- stop broadcasting advertising for up to 24 hours
- stop broadcasting completely for up to 24 hours.
The written decision is sent to you and the broadcaster within 20 working days of the board meeting. Afterwards it’s also sent to the media and added to the BSA website.