SBS Codes of Practice

The SBS Codes of Practice set out the principles and policies SBS uses to guide its programming. They set the benchmark for SBS content and detail SBS’s obligations regarding matters such as providing a diversity of views and perspectives, accuracy and balance in news and current affairs, television program classification, community information and complaints handling.

SBS is an independent national public service media organisation operating under the Special Broadcasting Service Act 1991 (Cth) (SBS Act). Under the SBS Act, SBS is required to develop codes of practice relating to programming matters and to notify those codes to the Australian Communications and Media Authority.  

The SBS Codes of Practice set out the principles and policies SBS uses to guide its programming. They embrace the principal Charter function of SBS: '...to provide multilingual and multicultural radio, television and digital media services that inform, educate and entertain all Australians, and, in doing so, reflect Australia's multicultural society'.

Television classification and consumer advice information on the SBS Guide
SBS classifies programs broadcast on SBS Television and SBS On Demand (with the exception of news and current affairs and sports programs) to ensure they are suitable for broadcast and to inform audiences about the nature of the content. SBS's television classification standards are set out in Code 4 of the SBS Codes of Practice.

SBS provides advice on the principal reasons for an M and MA15+ classification at the start of the relevant programs on SBS's television service and in conjunction with relevant programs on SBS On Demand.

SBS may provide other appropriate consumer advice at the start of the program. In particular, SBS will provide appropriate consumer advice at the start of a PG classified program where SBS considers that the program contains material of a strength or intensity which SBS reasonably believes parents or guardians of young children may not expect.

Consumer advice is indicated on the SBS Guide next to the classification category (M, MA15+ and in some cases PG) using the following letters and key:

Consumer advice
A - adult themes
D - drug references
H - horror
L - language
N - nudity
S - sexual references
V - violence

Television classification and time zones - February and July 2019 revisions
The Television Classification Code (Code 4) sets out SBS's approach to the classification of programs and program promotions on SBS's television channels.

SBS has made two revisions to Code 4, effective 8 February 2019. From 1 July 2019, when SBS World Movies is launched, it will be subject to the same M time zone provisions as SBS and SBS VICELAND.

M daytime time zone on SBS, SBS VICELAND and SBS World Movies only (code 4.6)
Programs classified M will be able to be shown on SBS, SBS VICELAND and SBS World Movies between noon and 3pm on any day of the week, including school holiday periods. Prior to 8 February, programs classified M could only be shown between noon and 3pm on weekdays that were schooldays.

There is no change for NITV and SBS Food where programs classified M may only be shown between noon and 3pm on weekdays that are schooldays.

M programs are not recommended for people under 15 years.

For a summary of the time zones for each classification category click here.

Consumer advice (Code 4.8)
SBS has changed the way it provides advice on the principal reasons for an M or MA15+ program classification. Consumer advice will be provided in the form of a prominent and legible graphic appearing on screen at the start of the program, rather than audio and visual advice given before the program commences. Classification information is also available on television EPGs and on the SBS Guide.

How to obtain a copy of the SBS Codes of Practice
The SBS Codes of Practice 2014 (as at 1 July 2019) are available as a PDF document - click here.

Copies of the SBS Codes of Practice can also be obtained from SBS by:

  • telephoning 1800 500 727 (TTY via NRS - call 1800 555 677 and ask for 1800 500 727)
  • writing to SBS here or Locked Bag 028 Crows Nest NSW 1585

Superceded version
SBS Codes of Practice 2014 (8 February 2019) - click here (PDF)
SBS Codes of Practice 2014 (11 October 2018) - click here (PDF)

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