What is Ofcom?

Ofcom is the UK regulator for broadcasting and communications services. This includes broadband, home phone and mobile services, as well as the “universal postal service” provided by the Royal Mail . You can find a full list of what Ofcom oversees on the “What is Ofcom?” section of its website.

Regarding journalism, Ofcom regulates compliance with the Ofcom Broadcasting Code, which the Communications Act 2003 and the Broadcasting Act 1996 require Ofcom to produce. The Ofcom Broadcasting Code sets the standards that TV and radio broadcasters must follow under their broadcasting licence, including when broadcasting journalistic content.

What can I complain to Ofcom about?

You can complain to Ofcom about any content covered by its Broadcasting Code – this means most programmes broadcast on TV and radio and some video-on-demand services.

Complaints about broadcast advertising are handled on Ofcom’s behalf by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

The Broadcasting Code does not cover written news or content on news websites. For example, if a media organisation has a TV news channel and a news website, content broadcast on the news channel is subject to the Broadcasting Code, but the material on its website is not.

Ofcom regulates all UK broadcasters, including the BBC. However, the process for complaining about BBC content is slightly different from that for other broadcasters. We have therefore provided separate guidance for complaints to Ofcom about the BBC later in this section.

If you are unsure whether you should submit your complaint to Ofcom, visit its Make a Complaint page.

How do I raise my concern with Ofcom about non-BBC content?

If you wish to complain to Ofcom about content broadcast on a non-BBC TV channel, radio station or video-on-demand service, you can do so:

  • through Ofcom’s website
  • by telephoning Ofcom on 0300 123 3333 or 020 7981 3040
  • using Textphone number 18001 01925 650744
  • using Ofcom’s video relay service to contact Ofcom in British Sign Language, or
  • in writing to the following addresses:


For complaints in which you think you, your relative or your organisation were treated unfairly and/or your or their privacy was infringed in a programme:

Ofcom Fairness and Privacy Complaints
Ofcom
Riverside House
2a Southwark Bridge Road
London
SE1 9HA

For any other complaint:

PO Box 1285
Warrington
WA1 9GL

When can I complain to Ofcom about the BBC?

Content broadcast on the BBC’s TV channels, radio stations or iPlayer video-on-demand service is subject to the Ofcom Broadcasting Code, so you can complain to Ofcom if you have a concern about it. However, the process for complaining about the BBC is slightly different from that for other broadcasters.

Online content is not generally covered by the Ofcom Broadcasting Code. However, unlike other media organisations, you can still complain to Ofcom about BBC online material.

Ofcom does not have any powers of enforcement regarding BBC online material. However, it may give an opinion on whether the BBC has kept to the BBC Editorial Guidelines. You can find out more information on the “BBC online material” section of Ofcom’s website.

How do I raise my concern with Ofcom about the BBC?

This depends on whether your complaint is about:

  • fairness or privacy, or
  • other aspects of the Ofcom Broadcasting Code.

If you believe that the BBC has breached the fairness or privacy sections of the Ofcom Broadcasting Code by treating you, your relative or your organisation unfairly and/or by infringing your or their privacy, you can complain directly to Ofcom using the contact details above. However, Ofcom recommends complaining to the BBC directly in the first instance to try to resolve the matter. Remember that you will also need to raise any privacy concern with the BBC directly if you wish to complain to the ICO.

For any other complaints (including complaints about the BBC’s online material), you must first complete the BBC’s own complaints procedure. Once you have done so, you can then complain to Ofcom as described above.