Age Ratings of Programmes
All programme brands are age rated before they are published online. Broadly these reflect the scheduling of the same content on television.
These age ratings are:
- No rating – safe anytime, pre-watershed family programming
- 16 /17 – suitable for 16+ (but post-watershed)
- 18+ - programmes only broadcast after 10pm (strongest adult content)
These rules are not set in stone. Editorial staff must make judgment calls to determine audience age suitability on a case-by-case basis. These age ratings do not appear online but are used to trigger the PIN mechanism and check-box confirmation.
Clear, specific information will be used to flag up the suitability of content and help inform users of the type of content they are about to access:
- Warnings (in-stream graphics, on page text positioned so users see the warning in advance of the content)
- Transmission information (e.g. a post-watershed TX time helps inform people to expect programmes with more adult content)
- Guidance notes
Supporting information is provided for all content on Channel 4's websites, including video, images and text.
Content Access Controls
Content Access Control tools ('CAC') are available for all video content (including clips and full length programmes), with the following user experience:
- CAC prominently featured across the entire site - there is a Parental Control link in the global footer of Channel4.com, across all pages
- If adults choose to enable CAC, their computer will not be able to access age-rated content unless the user first types in a PIN (Personal Identification Number)
- If CAC is not enabled and the user tries to view age-rated content, they will first be required to confirm their age.
This creates a standard system for users to understand how C4 manages adult content online, and provides comfort to parents that this type of functionality is easy to find and use.
The age confirmation and PIN mechanism is dictated by the age rating of the individual programme. No PIN or age confirmation will be offered for safe anytime (pre-watershed) programmes.
*Long-form video allows adults to set-up PIN protection to prevent younger audiences from viewing all rated content, (16 and 18), or 18+ rated content.
**Short-form video content with guidance notes is classified as 16 rated content. This will trigger age confirmation/PIN as configured by the user.
Guidelines for content types
Unlike television, there are various types of content available on Channel 4's Online platforms. Due to the nature of the different content types, various different technical tools are used.
C4 video (clips, full programmes)
- Content Access Controls – PIN mechanism and self-declaration for content specific to age rating
- Supporting information (warnings, TX information and guidance notes)
Text/images/quizzes/polls/flash games/online exclusive video etc.
- Supporting information (warnings, TX information and guidance notes on pages in advance of reading or seeing images)
- No Content Access Controls - no technical tools or self-declaration will be used on text/images subject to appropriate guidance and information and legal and compliance advice being sought when necessary. In light of the absence of CAC, the material will need to be suitable for under 18's.
- In-stream warnings will be used for games and exclusive video which may not be appropriate for young children.