Terms of Reference

Principal aims and functions

Channel 4 will appoint an online independent complaints reviewer (‘the Reviewer’) whose role will be, in accordance with these Terms of Reference, to review decisions made by Channel 4 in response to complaints about fairness and/or privacy arising from editorial content published on all online platforms where Channel 4 retains editorial control (‘Online Content’).

Where a complainant seeks a review of a decision by Channel 4 the Reviewer will, where the relevant criteria are met, review that decision with reference to Channel 4’s Online Complaints Code (‘the Code’). 

The Reviewer will operate under the Procedures for the Independent Online Reviewer (‘the Procedures’). 

The Reviewer will be independent of Channel 4 but he/she can seek guidance or clarification from Channel 4’s General Counsel on any issues relating to the application of the terms of reference, the Code or the Procedures. 

The terms of reference, the Code and the Procedures will be subject to annual review and may be subject to amendment from time to time. 

Channel 4 Complaints Handling

The Channel 4 commissioning department responsible for that content will initially deal with complaints about Online Content. 

If a complaint is upheld then Channel 4, shall take such remedial steps as it deems appropriate but which is limited to a clarification, correction or removal. In the most serious of breaches it may also be appropriate to offer an apology.

If a complaint is not upheld or only upheld in part the Channel 4 commissioning department will inform the complainant in writing of that decision, and provide an outline of the reasons for that decision (‘the Decision’). The commissioning department will also explain to the complainant that they have a right to have their complaint reconsidered by an independent complaints reviewer and they will be provided with a link to 4Viewers on how seek a review.

The Reviewer’s Remit

The Reviewer shall only review a Decision made in relation to complaints about Online Content, which raises issues relating to a potential breach of the Code.

The Reviewer will not review Decisions made in relation to complaints about:

  • programme content broadcast on Channel 4, E4, More4, 4Seven, Film4, 4Music or any of the +1 or HD channels (‘the Channel 4 Service’); where a complaint could be entertained under Ofcom’s Procedures for the consideration and adjudication of Fairness & Privacy complaints;
  • on-demand ‘catch-up’ content which has recently been shown on the Channel 4 Service where a complaint made under Ofcom’s Procedures for investigating breaches of rules for on-demand programme services, could be entertained by Ofcom under its Procedures for the consideration and adjudication of Fairness & Privacy complaints;
  • fairness and/or privacy complaints where the complainant is not the person affected (see the Procedures); and
  • the remedial action taken or not taken in relation to the Decision.

Grounds for Independent Review

The only grounds upon which a request for an independent review can be made are that it is alleged that:

  • there is a substantial flaw in the Decision; and/or
  • the Decision fails to give sufficient weight to material matters relevant to that Decision, and by reason of which the Decision is unsafe.

The Review Process

The procedural rules governing any review are set out in the Procedures.

Where the Reviewer considers that a Decision merits reconsideration by Channel 4, he/she will make a recommendation to Channel 4’s General Counsel that the Decision ought to be reconsidered. The General Counsel will then report that recommendation to Channel 4’s Executive who must consider the Reviewer’s recommendation but are not obliged to accept it. 

Where the Channel 4 Executive decides not to accept the Reviewer’s recommendation that a Decision should be reconsidered, the Channel’s decision is final. The complainant seeking the review will be informed in writing by Channel 4’s General Counsel, and shall be provided with an outline of the reasons for that decision. At this point, Channel 4 and the Reviewer will close their files.

Where Channel 4’s Executive decides to accept the Reviewer’s recommendation that a Decision should be reconsidered, the General Counsel will refer the matter back to the relevant Channel 4 commissioning department for reconsideration. Following reconsideration, the commissioning department will make a decision and the complainant seeking the review will be informed of that decision, together with an outline of the reasons for it and any remedial action if appropriate. Such decision, whatever it is, is final.

Channel 4 Television Corporation

20th July 2016