Melon Farmers Original Version

FAQ: Who censors what in the UK?

A list of British censors and regulators

 MelonFarmers   Regulators 

Advertising Standards Authority (ASA)

  • ASA
  • CAP
  • BCAP
The ASA write and enforce advertising rules across most of UK media (including websites as of 1st March 2011)
  • ASA, Advertising Standards Authority, administer the group, deal with complaints from members of the public and enforce the advertising rules
  • CAP, Committee of Advertising Practice,  write and advise about the non-broadcast advertising rules
  • BCAP, Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice,  write and advise about the broadcast advertising rules

ASA Pages:

Melon Farmers Pages:


Advertising Standards Authority
Mid City Place
71 High Holborn

Tel: 020 7492 2222


Tel: 020 7492 2200 for advertising advice

Authority for Television on Demand (ATVOD)

ATVOD was the Internet TV censor for Video on Demand until 1st January 2016. Now its duties have been taken over by Ofcom

British Board of Film Classification (BBFC)

Film Censor with the remit:

  • cinema film
  • video/DVD/Blu-ray
  • online film (a voluntary scheme)
  • computer games, role ended in Autumn 2011 apart from continued remit for R18 games
  • internet website and mobile content classification
  • The BBFC were appointed as internet porn censors in 2018. Their role is to identify porn websites, check that they employ strict age verification, and arrange for the blocking or fining of non-compliant websites. The BBFC will also censor websites with 'extreme porn' as defined in the Dangerous Pictures Act.

The BBFC is an independent company tasked with UK film, video and games censorship. It is funded through classification fees.

For cinema the BBFC historically represented the interests of the film industry to ensure that film makers avoided legal issues from obscenity law etc. BBFC cinema ratings are advisory and the ultimate censorship responsibility lies with local authorities. In the vast majority of cases BBFC advice is accepted by councils. But advice has often been overruled to ban BBFC certificated films or to allow BBFC banned films.

For home video, DVD, Blu-ray and some video games, the BBFC acts as a government designated censor. BBFC decisions are enforced by law via the Video Recordings Act of 2010.

For online films the BBFC offers a voluntary scheme of reusing BBFC vide certificates for online works. The BBFC will also rate online exclusive material if requested. Note that the Video Recordings Act does not apply online and content is only governed by the law of the land, particularly the Obscene Publications Act and Dangerous Pictures Act.

The BBFC is due to relinquish responsibility for video games in July 2012. The Video Standards Council will take over the role and ratings will be provided using Europe wide PEGI ratings and symbols.

Not that rejected home media is banned from sale. It is not generally illegal to possess. However criminal law makes it illegal to possess child & extreme porn.

BBFC Pages:

Melon Farmers Pages:


3 Soho Square,

Tel: 020 7440 1570
Children's BBFC

British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)

UK state Radio and TV broadcaster

The BBC has had a history of self regulation but now Ofcom has also been appointed to some aspects of TV censorship applied to the BBC. A memorandum of understanding between the 2 parties states:

Both the BBC and Ofcom have duties to consider standards complaints. The Trust is required to establish and maintain procedures for the handling and resolution of complaints about standards in the content of the BBC's services, including complaints regarding BBC editorial guidelines designed to secure appropriate standards, accuracy and impartiality, Ofcom's Fairness Code and the relevant programme standards as set out above. Ofcom is also required to consider and adjudicate on fairness complaints and to establish procedures for the handling and resolution of complaints about the observance by the BBC of standards referred to above.

BBC Pages:

Ofcom pages

Melon Farmers Pages:


BBC Complaints
PO Box 1922

Tel: 03700 100 222

BBC Trust

The BBC Trust was the governing body of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) from 2007 to 2017. It was operationally independent of BBC management and external bodies, and aims to act in the best interests of licence fee payers.

Much of the regulatory activity has niw been returned to the BBC itself whilst Ofcom has taken on some of the responsibility for the censorship and control of the BBC.

Cinema Advertising Association

The Cinema Advertising Association took over responsibility for pre-vetting cinema adverts in April 2016. The BBFC retains responsibility for trailers and public information films.

The primary function of the CAA is to promote, monitor and maintain standards of cinema advertising. This includes pre-vetting all cinema commercials to ensure conformity with relevant advertising codes.

The CAA Copy Panel clears commercials for exhibition in cinemas in the UK and Republic of Ireland. No commercial may be exhibited in a cinema unless it has been cleared. For exhibition in the UK, cinema commercials must comply with the British Code of Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing (the CAP Code). There will be a charge of 100 + vat per item for this service


Cinema Advertising Association
Corinthian House
279 Tottenham Court Road

Tel: +44 20 7199 2433 Email:


Complaints: Complaints page

Channel 4

Channel 4 is a UK commercial TV broadcaster

Melon Farmers Pages:


Channel 4 Enquiries
PO Box 1058
Belfast BT1 9DU

Tel: 0845 076 0191 Viewer enquiries

Channel 5

Channel 5 is a UK commercial TV broadcaster

Melon Farmers Pages:


Customer Services
Five Television
22 Long Acre

Tel: 08457 050505
Tel: 020 7421 7270



Clearcast are not official regulators. They are a group funded by broadcasters. Clearcast maintain expertise about ASA/TV advertising rules for the benefit of broadcasters and advertisers.

Broadcast advertisers submit adverts to Clearcast for approval. Clearcast also assign child protection restrictions.

Clearcast decisions can be, and often are, challenged by the ultimate advertising censors of the ASA

Clearcast Pages

Melon Farmers Pages:


Note: Public complaints about broadcast advertising should be addressed to the ASA

4 Roger Street
2nd & 3rd Floor

Tel: 020 7339 4700

Counter-Terrorism Internet Referral Unit

The Counter-Terrorism Internet Referral Unit (CTIRU) was set up in 2010 by ACPO (and run by the Metropolitan Police) to remove unlawful terrorist material content from the Internet, with a specific focus on UK based material.

CTIRU works with internet platforms to identify content which breaches their terms of service and requests that they remove the content.

CTIRU also compiles a list of URLs for material hosted outside the UK which are blocked on networks of the public estate.

As of December 2017, CTIRU is linked to the removal of 300,000 pieces of illegal terrorist material from the internet

See article from

The Counter-Terrorism Internet Referral Unit is run by the Metropolitan Police but offers no specific public contact details

Crown Prosecution Service (CPS)

The Crown Prosecution Service is the Government Department responsible for prosecuting criminal cases investigated by the police in England and Wales.

It is responsible for:

  • advising the police on cases for possible prosecution;
  • reviewing cases submitted by the police;
  • determining any charges in all but minor cases;
  • preparing cases for court;
  • presenting cases at court.

The CPS define many of the archaic BBFC guidelines used for censoring R18 hardcore.

In general the CPS maintain their current interpretation of vague laws used to decide when prosecutions will take place.

CPS Pages


The Crown Prosecution Service
Rose Court
2 Southwark Bridge

Tel: 020 3357 0000

Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS)

Government department responsible for film and broadcasting.

Often the final responsibility for censorship reverts to the Home Office, especially when the censorial line is defined by legality.

DCMS Pages:

Melon Farmers Pages:


Department for Culture Media and Sport
2-4 Cockspur Street

Tel: 020 7211 6000 for general enquiries

Home Office

Government department responsible for most law and order issues that underpin UK censorship

Home Office Pages:

Melon Farmers Pages:


Direct Communications Unit (public enquiries)
2 Marsham Street

Tel: 020 7035 4848 for public enquiries


Now Phone-Paid Services Authority

The Independent Monitor for the Press (IMPRESS)

Impress is a UK press regulator following the template suggested by the Leveson report on press regulation in the UK. It was launched in 2016 but has not achieved widespread support from the major newspapers who have elected for regulation by the rival organisation, IPSO.

Melon Farmers Pages:


The Independent Monitor for the Press

16-18 New Bridge Street

Website complaints: make a complaint
Tel: 0203 325 4288.

See also Government advice about dealing with the media from

Independent Press Standards Organisation ( ipso )

The Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) is the independent regulator for the newspaper and magazine industry in the UK. It holds newspapers and magazines to account for their actions, protect individual rights, uphold high standards of journalism and help to maintain freedom of expression for the press.

It was born in 2014 in the wake of the previous organisation, PCC failing to get a handle on the press phone hacking scandal, Lord Leveson was commissioned to lead a wide ranging inquiry into press and media regulation.

The result was that PCC gave way to IPSO which is an organisation supported by most of the British newspapers. A second rival organisation, Impress, was also created with a set up more like that preferred by the Government, however it enjoys less support from the major players of the UK press.

Ipso describes its work as follows:

  • We make sure that member newspapers and magazines follow the Editors' Code.
  • We investigate complaints about printed and online material that may breach the Editors' Code.
  • We can make newspapers and magazines publish corrections or adjudications if they breach the Editors' Code (including on their front page).
  • We monitor press standards and require member newspapers and magazines to submit an annual statement about how they follow the Editors' Code and handle any complaints.
  • We can investigate serious standards failings and can fine publishers up to 1 million in cases where they are particularly serious and systemic.
  • We operate a 24-hour anti-harassment advice line.
  • We provide advice for editors and journalists.
  • We provide training and guidance for journalists so they can uphold the highest possible standards.
  • We provide a Whistleblowing Hotline for journalists who feel they are being pressured to act in a way that is not in line with the Editors' Code.
  • We work with charities, NGOs and other organisations to support and improve press standards.

Melon Farmers Pages:


Independent Press Standards Organisation
Gate House
1 Farringdon Street

Tel: 0300 123 22 20
Email: Address

See also Government advice about dealing with the media from

Independent Television (ITV)

Commercial TV network

The ITV Network is made up of 15 regional licences. 11 of the licences in England and Wales are owned by ITV Plc, formed in 2004 following the merger of Carlton and Granada. SMG owns the two Scottish licences, Scottish Television and Grampian; UTV and Channel Television own the licences for Northern Ireland and the Channel Islands respectively.

Melon Farmers Pages:


Viewer Services
Gas Street
B1 2JT

Tel: 0844 88 14150

Information Commissioner's Office (ico)

The Information Commissioner's Office is a non-departmental public body which reports directly to Parliament and is sponsored by the Ministry of Justice.

It is the independent regulatory office dealing with the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003 across the UK; and the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and, to a limited extent, in Scotland.

The office is deeply involved in internet censorship particularly via age verification requirements

ICO Pages


Wycliffe House
Water Lane

Helpline: 0303 123 1113 (Monday to Friday from 9:00am to 5:00pm)

Tel: 01625 545 745

Internet Watch Foundation (IWF)

An organisation established and funded by the internet industry mainly targeted at removing or blocking child abuse material

The IWF coordinates take downs of illegal material reported or found on UK hosted websites. It maintains a list of blocked websites of foreign hosted material for UK ISPs to implement

Thankfully the IWF is keeping its focus on its role to remove child abuse images. It does also have a remit to take down other UK hosted material:

  • non-photographic child porn images

Note that the IWF ended its role in censoring adult material claimed to be 'criminally obscene' in 2017

IWF Pages:

Melon Farmers Pages:


The Internet Watch Foundation
East View
5 Coles Lane
CB24 3BA

Tel: +44 (0) 1223 237 700

Ministry of Justice

UK Government department responsible for the law court service and hence the ultimate British censors.

Melon Farmers Pages:


Ministry of Justice
102 Petty France
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)20 3334 3555 for general enquiries

Office of Communications (Ofcom)

The Office of Communications.

A censor with multiple roles. Roles of Interest to Melon Farmers are:

  • TV censors for nearly all radio/TV/cable/satellite except for the BBC
  • Internet censors for Video on Demand. This task has was delegated to ATVOD with Ofcom retaining the ultimate authority. Ofcom were sacked at the end of 2015. Now the BBFC is taking over the censorship of adult porn so any conflict of interests will need sorting.
  • Internet censors for copyright/file sharing issues
  • Advert Censors for the limited role of TV channels which exist mainly to advertise premium rate telephone services (such as babe channels)

Ofcom Pages:

Melon Farmers Pages:


Riverside House
2a Southwark Bridge Road

Tel: 0300 123 3333 public complaints
Tel: 020 7981 3040 public complaints

Tel: 0300 123 3000 general switchboard
Tel: 020 7981 3000 general switchboard


ParentPort was a website run jointly by the UK's media censors. It was a central reporting point for parents to complain about anything they see on the media. Complaints to ParentPort were then be forwarded to the appropriate censor.

Vanished by 2019 and replaced by a placeholder on the Ofcom website.

Phone-Paid Services Authority (PSA)

The Phone-paid Services Authority is the UK regulator for content, goods and services charged to a phone bill.

Phone-paid services are the goods and services that you can buy by charging the cost to your phone bill or pre-pay account. They include directory enquiries, voting on TV talent shows, donating to charity by text or downloading apps on your mobile phone. They are referred to as premium rate services in law.

The organisation wasp previously known as PhonepayPlus, and before that, ICSTIS.

Tel: 0300 30 300 20 General enquiries (standard rate)



now Phone-paid Service Authority, see above

Press Complaints Commission (PCC)

Superceded by ipso

Radio Centre

The RAdio Centre is not an official censor. It is funded by commercial radio stations to maintain expertise and provide advice about the current radio advertising rules.

Melon Farmers Pages:


See article from


Registered Digital Institute (RDI)

The Registered Digital Institute (RDI) have coordinated the Friendly WiFi kitemark scheme for the censorship of public WiFi.

The RDI is a trade group which promotes digital installation and digital service providers directly to the consumer. The institutes explains its role in setting up a standard for internet website blocking for public WiFi:

During his 2013 NSPCC speech on online safety, David Cameron announced that an agreement was in place with the UK's main Wi-Fi providers to commit to applying a level of filtering across all of their standard public Wi-Fi services, which are easily accessed by children and young people. Mr Cameron also highlighted the need to develop an industry-recognised and trusted symbol, which businesses could display to show customers that their public Wi-Fi is properly filtered. Discussions around the development of such a scheme and symbol began 12 months ago, when the RDI were asked to work in collaboration with The UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS), the Government and the UK's main Wi-Fi Providers, to design, develop and launch the UK-wide Friendly WiFi scheme that we see today.


Consumer facing website:

Sky (BSkyB)

Sky satellite TV broadcaster.

Melon Farmers Pages:


6 Centaurs Business Park,
Grant Way

Tel: 08442 410 265 for programme comments

Video Standards Council (VSC)

  • VSC Rating Board

  • Games Rating Authority

The Video Standards Council become the UK video game censors starting up in summer 2012. They oversee the application of pan-European PEGI ratings, but can override these with a UK ban if it is felt necessary. I haven't spotted this happening so far though (2017).

The VSC has introduced a couple of names to reflect this role. The organisation first renamed it self Games Rating Authority but has now settled on VSC Rating Board.

Video Standards Council Pages:

Melon Farmers Pages:



Suite 4A, Salar House,
61 Campfield Road,
St Albans,

Phone: 02037 718543


 MelonFarmers   Regulators 

Censor Watch logo





Censorship News Latest

Daily BBFC Ratings

Site Information