- There is an overriding duty is to ensure that people under 18 are protected.
- Due care must be taken over their physical and emotional welfare and dignity, irrespective of their parents' consent.
- Unnecessary distress or anxiety must not be caused by their involvement in the content or its broadcast/publication.
- Parental consent is usually needed for under-16s.
- Parental consent may also be needed for 16- and 17-year-olds.
- You may need to obtain a child licence from the relevant Local Authority.
- When working with under-18s, producers and all members of the team must read and follow these guidelines.
Young people value being in our content. Their voices are crucial to us and our remit. Working with them is a privilege which carries a special responsibility - we must protect them, take due care of them and put measures in place that ensure we’re doing so properly.
No content or child is the same - resilience and vulnerability can vary significantly depending on factors such as age, maturity and background.
It’s a complex area with many legal ramifications, so please speak to your content lawyer/compliance advisor very early if you want to work with under-18s.
These guidelines apply to all our content on all our platforms at all stages of production. They are a starting point but not the whole story. You will need tailored advice from our Legal & Compliance team.
Note: Within these guidelines, to be consistent with the Ofcom Broadcasting Code, ‘child’ means 14-year-olds and younger.
See: Duty of care
You must protect under-18s who take part in or are involved in your content. Due care must also be taken over their welfare and dignity.
Consideration of this must be at the heart of the production. The level of care required will depend on the circumstances, including the unique profile of the person under 18, the nature of the appearance, and their level of participation. This applies whether the content is originally produced or is acquired.
It is the responsibility of all members of a production team to ensure that this principle and these guidelines are followed at all times.
If any issue of child protection or safety arises during production or after publication, this must immediately be referred to the executive producer, who in turn will immediately notify the commissioning editor and content lawyer/compliance advisor. If a member of production feels unable to refer the matter to the executive producer or the channel's commissioning editor, they can and should speak in confidence to their content lawyer/compliance advisor.
Ofcom Code and guidance on the participation of under-18s in programmes
Section 1 of the Code contains two fundamental rules relating to the involvement of under-18s in programmes:
- Due care must be taken over the welfare and the dignity of people under 18 who take part or are otherwise involved in programmes. This is irrespective of any consent given by the participant or by a parent, guardian or other person over the age of 18 in loco parentis.
- People under 18 must not be caused unjustified distress or anxiety by their involvement in programmes or by the broadcast of those programmes.
Due care of under-18s
Even if parents are willing to allow under-18s to take part in a programme, you still have to ensure that it is appropriate to do so, they are not put at unnecessary risk and do not suffer harm as a result.
All those involved in the commissioning and making of programmes must take "due care" to protect fully the welfare of participants under the age of 18. The level of care depends on:
(1) the particular circumstances,
(2) the nature of the programme, and
(3) the individual(s) concerned.
The responsibility to exercise due care is an ongoing obligation which should be kept under review throughout the production process and after transmission.
Where a person under 18 participating in a programme is shown experiencing distress or anxiety it must be justified. The word "unjustified" in the rule refers to a level of distress and anxiety that is not justified by the editorial context and may risk harm to a person under 18's welfare and dignity.
Ofcom provides detailed guidance on the application of the Code on their website which the whole production team should read and consider: Section one: Protecting the under-eighteens - Ofcom.
The code contains a further rule of relevance where under-18s participate in programmes:
“Material which may cause offence must be justified by the context. Appropriate information should be broadcast where it would assist in avoiding or minimising offence.”
The level of care that has been taken to protect children taking part in programmes is not always clear. Therefore, when under-18s participate in programmes, consideration needs to be given as to whether "appropriate information" could and should be communicated to the viewer to mitigate possible offence in a particular situation. This will depend on the particular circumstances, the nature and content of the programme and/or the nature and extent of the under-18’s participation.
Channel 4’s best practice guidelines on working and filming with under-18s
The production team
It is the responsibility of the content's executive producer, in consultation with the commissioning editor and, where appropriate, the content lawyer/compliance advisor to ensure that:
- the nature and level of experience of the production team is appropriate for the nature and sensitivity of the project.
- additional advice, training or other support is given to the production team where needed.
- all members of the production team are familiar with the relevant sections of the Code, the 4Compliance site, these guidelines, and any additional guidance and/or procedures drawn up for their particular content.
- all members of the production team having direct contact with under-18s have up-to-date Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks; checks can be obtained from the Disclosure and Barring Service (England & Wales), Access NI (Northern Ireland) and Disclosure Scotland (Scotland). As these checks can take some time to obtain, they should be applied for at the earliest opportunity.
It may be necessary for other members of the team to also have DBS checks and this should be discussed with the commissioning editor and content lawyer/compliance advisor.
Please see the 'Background checks' section in Duty of care.
At the very outset of a project, the content creators in consultation with the commissioning editor and the content lawyer/compliance advisor should consider whether more tailored written guidance should be put in place, specific to the particular content. This will be advisable where under-18s, particularly children, make a significant contribution and are integral to the narrative or format of the content, or where the subject matter raises or touches upon sensitive subjects or involves filming in sensitive circumstances, e.g. filming about or involving private family matters, sexual matters, antisocial or criminal behaviour and activity.
In some circumstances, you should have specific written guidelines in place before content creators begin approaching potential contributors, e.g. written guidelines about how the content creators should find, advertise for, approach and correspond with contributors under the age of 18 and their families.
Content creators should also consider any changing circumstances during the course of production which may require the development of further written guidelines/protocols at a later stage. Content can evolve and can change emphasis once filming gets underway and events unfold, so it should be considered throughout production whether or not updated or further written guidelines/protocols are required.
Content creators must be able to demonstrate they have taken appropriate steps in an appropriate manner to safeguard the welfare of the person under the age of 18. The more sensitive the situation the more important it is to keep a record (documented or filmed as appropriate) of the steps you have taken to ensure compliance with this guidance and regulatory obligations.
Copies of key documents should be forwarded to your commissioning editor and content lawyer/compliance advisor during the course of the production.
Prizes aimed at children must be appropriate to the age range of both the target audience, i.e. viewers and the participants involved in the competition. Competitions should be conducted fairly, prizes should be described accurately, and rules should be clear, fair and appropriately made known.
Finding/approaching potential contributors
Some content ideas and proposals come to Channel 4 with contributors already secured. However, most projects require content creators to search for suitable contributors once development or the content is commissioned. It may be appropriate to put in place tailored, written guidelines regarding finding, approaching and 'casting' contributors, so that all members of the production team are clear about their responsibilities.
For content about potentially sensitive subjects, e.g. relating to sexual matters, criminality, antisocial behaviour, medical issues, illness, private family matters etc., advice must be sought from the commissioning editor and content lawyer/compliance advisor before advertisements are placed, flyers are handed out, or any under-18s are approached.
Handing out flyers, posting flyers (legally), placing advertisements, e.g. in newspapers or online, are all legitimate ways of finding under-18 contributors for content. However, the wording of such flyers and advertisements should be approved by the commissioning editor and content lawyer in advance, unless in the circumstances their substance is uncontroversial.
Flyers and advertisements can request that under-18s and under-16s contact content creators, but for under-16s they should state that parental consent will be required before content creators can enter into detailed discussions with under-16s. For example, suitable wording might be: “Note: if you are under 16, we will need your parents' consent before we can enter into a discussion with you”.
Careful consideration must also be given to other ways in which under-18s - particularly under-16s - are approached. Whilst it may be acceptable in some public places, e.g. on a high street, to hand out flyers to members of the public, including to under-18s and under-16s, it is likely to be unacceptable in other places. For example, it is generally unacceptable for content creators to loiter outside schools and approach young people there without the permission of the school. The content creators should carry written identification with them on the production company's headed note paper making clear who they are, describing the nature of the content, explaining that is has been commissioned by Channel 4 and setting out a contact number for the executive producer.
Similarly, whilst it may be acceptable to place advertisements or flyers online, e.g. within social networking sites, it may be inappropriate to make unsolicited, direct contact with under-16s, particularly if the subject matter of the intended content is sensitive or potentially controversial.
Care is needed when using social network sites to approach under-16s, where for example the age of individuals may be harder to verify, so early advice from the commissioning editor and content lawyer/compliance advisor must be taken.
Generally, the best way to approach potential under-18s - particularly under-16s - will be through an organisation or appropriate adult, e.g. school, a parent, guardian, head teacher, teacher, youth group, sports group, coach etc. However, even where under-18s are approached this way, through an organisation or adult who knows the young person well, content creators should generally not discuss private matters or sensitive subjects with under-18s, particularly under-16s, before making contact with and obtaining the consent of the young person's parent(s) or legal guardian(s).
Any plans to discuss private matters or sensitive subjects with under-18s should generally be discussed in advance with the commissioning editor and content lawyer/compliance advisor to ensure safeguards are in place.
Where content creators do come into direct contact with under-16s before they have had a chance to obtain parental consent, discussions should be limited to a general description of the intended content and the nature of the proposed contribution. Potential contributors under the age of 16 should be told that the content creators will have to seek the consent of the young person's parent(s) or guardian(s) before they can enter into detailed discussions about participating. It is often advisable in such circumstances to have a flyer or contact sheet which the individual can be given to pass to their parents, which can allow them to contact you direct.
As a general rule, no filming should take place with under-16s without prior parental consent.
See also: Consent
Duty of care
Risk assessments - physical and emotional/mental
Content creators, in consultation with the commissioning editor and their content lawyer/compliance advisor, must consider whether they need to carry out documented risk assessments of the impact on the under-18's emotional and mental wellbeing and welfare as well as their physical health and safety. The need for these will depend on all the relevant circumstances including the under-18's age, gender, physical and mental capacity, their maturity, cultural, ethnic and religious background, as well as their previous life experiences.
Use of an independent expert
It may be necessary, depending on the individual and the nature and extent of their proposed contribution and the nature of the content, to seek advice from an experienced and appropriately qualified independent child or educational counsellor, psychologist or other child specialist as appropriate. This may be necessary to assess the child's suitability to participate in the content, the likely impact on the child of their participation and/or to advise on how they should be interviewed or filmed.
You should discuss whether an independent expert is required with your commissioning editor and content lawyer/compliance advisor at an early stage.
If an expert assessment is necessary, the parameters should be discussed with the commissioning editor and content lawyer/compliance advisor in advance, such as whether an assessment in person, by telephone or video call is required, and the experience of the expert. The commissioning editor and content lawyer/compliance advisor may request to see the psychological assessment, which should be sent in a password-protected confidential format and handled in accordance with the Data Protection Act.
If the expert advises that a child contributor should not participate, then this decision must be adhered to, unless circumstances change and the expert decides that it is now appropriate to proceed. If the expert advises that you can 'proceed with caution' or 'proceed with notes', this and the report itself must be brought to the attention of the commissioning editor and content lawyer/compliance advisor.
Consideration should also be given as to the need to retain an/the same expert throughout the production to contribute to ongoing risk assessment.
Any advice given by the expert must be discussed with the commissioning editor and content lawyer. Any significant changes by the expert in their advice or any significant departure in following their advice must be brought to the attention of the commissioning editor and content lawyer.
Filming under-18s in sensitive situations
Whenever content creators anticipate filming or interviewing under-18s about sensitive or controversial subjects or filming in sensitive circumstances, they should consult with their commissioning editor and content lawyer/compliance advisor prior to filming so that consideration and advice can be given as to the appropriate safeguards which should be put in place to ensure under-18s are adequately protected - and also in some cases to ensure the production team is adequately protected.
In some circumstances it may be appropriate to engage an appropriately qualified independent expert or experts, e.g. counsellor, psychologist etc., not only to help determine the suitability of the contributor but also with regard to the processes involved in making the content and/or the manner of interviewing/filming; e.g. if a young person is undertaking certain tasks or challenges that may impact their physical or emotional/mental health or where a child is young and/or vulnerable and is being filmed in the context of some private or sensitive matter such as being caught up in the breakdown of their parents' relationship.
When filming with under-18s, the following checklist should be considered and adhered to as and where appropriate:
- Content creators should ensure that there is a known and consistent point of contact who is responsible for overseeing the welfare of the young contributor for them and, if appropriate, their families throughout production and up to and after broadcast/publication, for an appropriate period of time. Main contributors should have their contact number and understand that the specified team member is available for them to call.
- Under-18s, parents, schools etc. should be told that initial research chats and filming do not automatically mean they will be included in further filming/the finished content.
- Under-16s should not be asked for views on matters that may be beyond their comprehension or capacity to answer without the consent of an appropriate adult.
- Content creators should not encourage or incite under-18s to say or do things that they would not have done otherwise. ‘Showing off’ and playing up for the cameras should be discouraged.
- If a parent or other responsible adult is not present, it will normally be appropriate when filming with young people, particularly children, to have at least two members of the production team present.
- Consideration should be given to any gender issues. For example, it may be appropriate for some filming or interviews to be conducted by an all-female crew, all-male crew or a mixture of both.
- Serious consideration should always be given as to whether a young person should be accompanied by a parent/guardian, chaperone or other person who can provide support, such as a friend or a sibling. Serious consideration should also be given to whether expert support such as a counsellor or psychologist should be made available, e.g. where filming/interviewing a vulnerable child or where the child is being filmed/interviewed away from home or school or being interviewed about a private or otherwise potentially sensitive matter. Please discuss any such considerations with the commissioning editor and content lawyer/compliance advisor before filming.
- In the case of child actors who are required to have a performance licence, a chaperone will often be a condition of the licence.
- Content creators should try to avoid giving advice or counselling to young people. Where appropriate, content creators can pass on information to them about agencies they can contact for advice and help. If in doubt, content creators should seek guidance from the commissioning editor and content lawyer/compliance advisor, as appropriate.
- When filming with under-18s, detailed health and safety assessments must be undertaken as appropriate. All health and safety advice and recommendations must be followed, and all relevant members of the production team should be appropriately briefed on such issues. As part of this briefing, the production crew must know what to do and who to notify in the event of an emergency, e.g. a member of the crew or any contributor suffers physical harm during filming.
- Consideration should always be given to the personal security of any young people involved in content.
- If content creators are transporting or arranging transport for contributors under 18, parental consent should normally be obtained and content creators must take due care, e.g. using reliable transport companies, taxi firms etc.; under-18s should not be allowed to travel alone with adults who are not members of the crew and thus have not been DBS checked.
- Careful consideration must be given to the appropriate kind and level of any insurance cover - both for the production company and any contributors if appropriate - that should be put in place. This will depend on the nature of the content and the participants' proposed contributions.
If content creators have concerns about anything they have learned or witnessed during filming, this must be referred up within the production team as soon as possible and, to the commissioning editor and content lawyer/compliance advisor.
Any tailored production protocols for the particular content should contain a clear referral process for situations where any member of the production, including independent advisers or chaperones, is concerned about the welfare of any contributors under 18.
Interviewing about sensitive subjects
Whilst not intended as an exhaustive list, sensitive subjects are likely to include interviewing or filming an under-18 talking about the following: sexual matters; personal relationships or private family matters; antisocial or illegal behaviour they have been involved in or are considering; alcohol or drug use/abuse; addictions of any kind; their bodies; medical matters; illnesses they suffer or have suffered from, physical or mental; generally being unhappy, being depressed, self-harm or having suicidal thoughts; accidents or attacks they have been involved in which have led to serious harm.
When interviewing under-18s about sensitive subjects:
- Detailed, tailored guidelines/protocols are likely to be necessary. Consideration should be given as to the appropriate adults that ought to be present for any such interview, e.g. a welfare producer or chaperone in addition to a parent, to ensure the contributor is not being caused unjustified distress or anxiety.
Seek advice from the commissioning editor and content lawyer/compliance advisor at an early stage.
- Under-18s should be told they can ask for the camera to be turned off if they become uncomfortable with the filming at any stage. Similarly, if content creators sense or get any indication that a contributor is uncomfortable with filming, then it may be appropriate to ask the contributor whether they are happy to continue filming.
- Content creators should consider discussing with/taking advice from those who know the young person well, e.g. a parent, teacher, other family member or other person, as to the appropriate way to approach certain subject matters in interviews.
- Where appropriate, content creators should also consider whether there is another person already in the young person’s life who understands their circumstances and who is prepared to remain in the young person’s life post broadcast/publication to offer guidance and support, for as long as it is needed, e.g. a parent, family member, teacher, mentor, youth group leader.
Where a young person confides in a member of the production team about something which could place that child at risk, either physically or emotionally, the matter must be referred up as soon as possible to the executive producer, the commissioning editor and, the content lawyer/compliance advisor. They will decide appropriate action to be taken.
Filming in sensitive situations
- In some content, content creators are likely to film under-18s in sensitive situations. Again, whilst not an exhaustive list, filming a person under 18 in sensitive situations is likely to include filming an under-18 involved in or in the presence of any of the following: antisocial or illegal activity; alcohol and drug use/abuse; bullying; threatening or intimidating behaviour; violence; criminal damage; dangerous and potentially dangerous activities.
- Whenever content creators are filming in sensitive situations, if possible, seek advice from the content lawyer/compliance advisor in advance. If that is not possible and situations present themselves, content creators should use their common sense as to how best to proceed, e.g. whether to continue filming, cease filming, intervene, refer the matter up, notify the authorities or emergency services etc. It is important that the filming itself does not compromise the welfare of the person under 18 and that it does not cause the under-18 unjustified distress or anxiety. Please note that content creators should only intervene where to do so would not place them or the person under 18 at further risk.
Antisocial and/or criminal behaviour
- Content about under-18s and illegal and/or antisocial behaviour will require guidelines tailored to the specific needs of the content. Content creators should seek advice from the content lawyer/compliance advisor at the earliest opportunity.
- As part of the selection process and background checks on potential contributors, content creators should ascertain whether the under-18s have any criminal convictions, ASBOs or have a history of any antisocial behaviour.
- Content creators must ensure that they do not incite, facilitate, encourage or assist anti-social and/or criminal behaviour, directly or indirectly, e.g. simply by their presence or filming, by purchasing spray cans which are then used for graffiti, or even just by driving a person under 18 to a location where anti-social or criminal behaviour may be committed. Assisting a criminal offence is a criminal offence in itself. Content creators must remain as impartial observers.
If content creators witness and/or film the commission of a crime when filming with a person under 18, this must be referred to the commissioning editor and content lawyer/compliance advisor as soon as possible. Rushes can be subject to a 'production order' for seizure by the police and content creators may be interviewed as witnesses, so it is important to seek prompt legal advice.
Under-18s involved in legal proceedings
It is essential that content creators obtain advice from their content lawyer/compliance advisor at the earliest opportunity if they believe contributors may be subject to legal considerations.
It is a contempt of court (a criminal offence) to identify a child in contravention of an Order of the court or in contravention of legal restrictions. The identity of under-18s in most legal proceedings is protected by the court, often automatically.
Any reference whatsoever to under-18s involved in legal proceedings must be referred to the content lawyer/compliance as soon as possible for advice.
Where content makes references, whether directly or indirectly, to legal proceedings involving people under 18 and there are statutory or other legal restrictions preventing their identification, care must be taken not to inadvertently, or otherwise, give clues which may lead to their identification.
When referring to pre-trial investigations into alleged criminal offences, particular regard must be paid to any potentially vulnerable under-18s that may be involved before a decision is made to identify them or to divulge certain details about them. This applies not only to defendants (those accused of crimes) and potential defendants but also to victims and potential witnesses.
Protection of Children Act 1978
The Protection of Children Act 1978 makes it a criminal offence to take, possess or show an indecent photograph (which includes filming for television) of a minor under the age of 18 and even to involve a minor in a photograph or television image that is itself indecent, even where the child's role in it is not central. To broadcast/publish an image where a child's picture had been superimposed onto a pornographic image would be an offence. This also means that in drama, any actors that are required to be filmed in scenes of an explicit sexual nature must be aged at least 18, regardless of the age of the character they are playing.
If you are unsure whether or not an image involving a minor may be indecent, seek immediate advice from the content lawyer/compliance advisor before filming.
Fairness and privacy
All content must avoid the unfair treatment of under-18s and any infringement of privacy must be warranted. Particular attention must be paid to the privacy rights of those under 16.
Privacy of people under 16
Particular regard must be paid to the privacy of people under 16, whether they are a contributor to the content or not. They do not lose their rights to privacy because of who their parents are (e.g. a celebrity) or because of events going on in their school, for example. You should start from the basis that the child of a very famous celebrity generally has the same rights to privacy as the child of an ordinary member of the public. Exceptions to this should be discussed with the content lawyer/compliance advisor.
Unless it is warranted to proceed otherwise, parental consent must be sought where an individual under 16 is featured in content in a way that infringes their privacy. The explicit consent of the individual concerned should also be obtained where possible.
Ideally, both parents' consents should be sought for the child's contribution. However, this will not always be possible or practicable. If a young person's parents are divorced or separated, parental consent should, in the first instance, be sought from the parent the child resides with and who has ‘parental responsibility'. As to whether or not consent should be sought from the other parent as well, seek advice from the content lawyer/compliance advisor. Child performance licences, issued by the local authority where the child resides, may also be required. See 'child performance licences' below.
People under 16 should not normally be asked questions about private matters without the consent of one of their parents or guardians - or, in the case of a vulnerable person, without the consent of their primary adult carer - unless it is warranted to proceed without such consent.
Content involving child actors
The use of child actors will require a child performance licence (see ‘child performance licences’ below). The licensing system involves safeguards designed to protect the welfare of the child. The following additional guidelines should also be applied where appropriate:
- When casting child actors for scripted roles in drama, comedy or entertainment content that might involve scenes of strong violence and/or the use of strong or sexual language, particular consideration should be given to the child's past acting experience, how long they have been at drama school and the nature of roles they have played in the past. This is in addition to the usual considerations about the individual (their age, level of understanding, maturity, confidence etc.).
Particular care is needed when working with child actors in scenes involving graphic violence or the use of strong or sexual language directed at them or said in their presence. In such cases the scenes should, where reasonably practicable, be filmed in such a way that the child is not present on set during the use of the strong violence and/or strong or sexual language and can be edited in later. The filming of such scenes should always be discussed with the commissioning editor and content lawyer/compliance advisor.
If it is proposed that a child actor is to be filmed using graphic violence or strong or sexual language, this must be discussed at script stage with the commissioning editor and content lawyer/compliance advisor. Such use needs very careful consideration and appropriate safeguards (such as the use of an independent expert) in place to ensure that the child is both suitable for the role and all that it involves and to assess the likely impact on the child. Such use would require strong editorial justification and the prior approval of both the Head of Drama and Controller of Legal & Compliance with reference-up to the Chief Content Officer where appropriate.
Early advice must be sought from the content lawyer/compliance advisor before any filming is undertaken, where any scenes of a sexual nature in which child actors may be present are being considered. It is a criminal offence to take, distribute or show an indecent photograph (which includes filming for television) of a minor under the age of 18. In drama or reconstructions, any actors that are required to be filmed in scenes of a sexual nature must be at least 18, regardless of the age of the character they are playing. In such circumstances content creators must seek independent written verification of the ages of all actors who are under 18 or who are over 18 but look younger.
Child performance licences
The law states that children under the compulsory school age (16) must not take part in any "performance", including a "broadcast performance", except under the authority of a licence granted by the local authority in which the child resides.
A child is considered to be of compulsory school age until the last Friday in June in the school year in which they reach 16, which means some 16-year-olds will require a licence. The licensing regime also applies to children who permanently reside within the UK but who are taken outside the UK and Republic of Ireland for filming.
Wherever young people of school age are to be featured prominently within content or, indeed, it is felt that the child's contribution might amount to a performance, even where the contribution is insubstantial, content-makers must seek advice from the content lawyer/compliance advisor at the earliest opportunity.
What constitutes a 'performance' is not defined under the legislation. Traditionally it has been applied to children who appeared in dramas, scripted comedies, musical and dance performances. However, it is now accepted that the licence regime also extends to so-called 'reality' content where the activity in which the child participates is manipulated, controlled or directed for the purpose of entertainment.
It is therefore important that content creators seek early advice from their content lawyer/compliance advisor as to which content might now be caught as the time limits for applying for licences are strictly applied and the limited exemptions available require careful application.
However, there are some exceptions: for example, a licence is not required where no payment is made (to the child or another person) in respect of the child taking part in the performance (expenses can be paid) and where, within the six months preceding the performance, the child has not taken part in other qualifying performances on more than three days.
Judging whether a child performance licence is necessary in a particular case is rarely straightforward. It is ultimately for the Local Authority to determine whether the performance or activity requires a licence and if conditions should be attached to it. They must assess applications on the basis of the measures that have been put in place to mitigate risks to children and to ensure their safety and well-being, and that their education does not suffer.
A licence may only be refused in very specific circumstances and reasons must be given in writing. While licensing authorities are entitled to ask for information that they consider is necessary to make an informed decision about whether to issue a licence, a Local Authority is not entitled to 'vet' scripts as part of the application process. A script should never be provided without reference to your commissioning editor and content lawyer/compliance advisor.
The applicable regulations differ in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland:
- England is subject to Children (Performance and Activities) (England) Regulations 2014.
- Scotland is subject to Children (Performance and Activities) (Scotland) Regulations 2014.
- Wales is still subject to The Children (Performances) Regulations 1968.
- Northern Ireland should apply The Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1995 and The Employment of Children Regulations (NI) 1996, amended 2006.
After filming, before transmission
- Content creators (normally the participant's main point of contact during production) should ensure they maintain the relationships they have built up throughout production and the flow of information with the person under 18 and, if appropriate, their family.
- Content creators should keep the person under 18 and their family informed about the progress of the content, including about any publicity (press, trails etc.) for the content and the broadcast/publication date, as appropriate.
- Content creators should monitor during this period whether anything is occurring that may affect the edit or broadcast/publication. Have the facts or circumstances changed? Has the young person been arrested or taken into care?
- Content creators should consider informing the under-18's school of the broadcast/publication date, if appropriate.
- If it has been agreed at the outset by Channel 4 that the person under 18 and their family can view a fine cut of the content prior to broadcast/publication, this promise must be honoured. The terms on which such a viewing is granted must be agreed with Channel 4 first and in any event, it should always be made clear that final editorial control rests with Channel 4. Contributors should be given an indication of when the viewing will take place and content creators should try to stick to that. It may well be advisable for such viewings to take place before copies of the content are sent out to the press.
- Content creators should consider the potential impact of social media and the media in general and the risk of bullying (including online bullying) on the person under 18 and provide appropriate advice and practical support to them and/or their parents/guardians in advance of broadcast/publication, for example by providing guidance on privacy settings on social media sites and/or providing a designated contact to help them with media attention.
- If it has been agreed that a person under 18 and their family do not have the right to view a copy of the content prior to broadcast/publication, content creators should keep under review whether there is any reason why it would be sensible or appropriate to reverse that decision and offer a viewing of the whole or part of the content. However, any decision to offer a contributor the right to view the content or any part of it prior to broadcast/publication must be agreed by the commissioning editor and content lawyer/compliance advisor.
- Content creators should consider what, if any other, support the person under 18 may need in the run up to broadcast/publication, bearing in mind how press and publicity may affect the young person. Depending on the circumstances of the particular case, it may be advisable for content creators to take expert advice on how to best manage this phase of the production. The need for this should be discussed with the commissioning editor and your content lawyer/compliance advisor.
After transmission and beyond
- Content creators should also carefully consider what, if any, support the person under 18 may need in the aftermath of broadcast/publication and beyond. What will the impact be? How might filming and the experience have affected the young person in the longer term? Depending on the circumstances, it may be advisable for content creators to take expert advice on how to best manage this post-production phase. The need for this should be discussed with the commissioning editor and your content lawyer/compliance advisor. It may be appropriate in some cases to offer aftercare support or counselling to a contributor for a fixed period after broadcast/publication.
- Editorial staff and content creators should consider whether contributors under 18 need to be notified when the content they have been filmed for is to be repeated, especially where a significant period of time has elapsed since the last broadcast/publication.
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