Accessibility menu

What is the BBC Trust?

The BBC Trust is the governing body of the BBC. We set the course for the BBC and work to get the best out of the BBC for licence fee payer.

We set BBC strategy and top-level budgets and appoint the BBC's Editor-in-Chief, the Director-General.

We aim to ensure BBC programmes are high quality and make sure the BBC has the right standards and that its programmes live up to those standards.

These include the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines, which set out the standards required of everyone making programmes and other content for the BBC. 

The Editorial Guidelines are drawn up by the production and broadcasting side of the BBC (the “BBC Executive”) and approved by the Trust. They apply to all of the BBC’s content, wherever and however it is received. 

Protecting children

The Editorial Guidelines cover a number of areas, including Harm and Offence.

The Harm and Offence Guidelines state that the BBC must be sensitive to, and keep in touch with, generally accepted standards as well as audience expectations of BBC content, particularly in relation to the protection of children. There are specific guidelines about the 9pm television watershed and scheduling for TV, radio and online content. 

 Find further details about the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines.

The BBC also has Editorial Values which apply to all of its content. These set out the BBC’s responsibilities in various areas, including truth, accuracy and impartiality. There’s a specific Editorial Value about children:

“We will always seek to safeguard the welfare of children and young people who contribute to and feature in our content, wherever in the world we operate. We will preserve their right to speak out and participate, while ensuring their dignity and their physical and emotional welfare is protected during the making and broadcast of our output. Content which might be unsuitable for children will be scheduled appropriately.”

The BBC Trust oversees how the BBC complies with its editorial and content standards. It does this through the work of the Trust’s Editorial Standards Committee. This Committee also oversees the BBC's editorial complaints process and considers appeals against BBC decisions not to uphold complaints.

Making a complaint

The BBC has a three-stage complaints procedure. It’s designed to be straightforward to use and to enable the BBC to address concerns properly. 

If any BBC content on TV, radio or online causes you concern as a parent, guardian or carer, your first step is to make a complaint to the BBC Executive through ParentPort’s complaints section. If your concerns in this area are about BBC TV or radio programmes, responsibility for regulation is shared with Ofcom.

ParentPort’s complaints section will explain this further and tell you what you can do next.

Click here to Make a Complaint.

You should normally make your complaint within 30 working days of the transmission or event. The BBC Executive aims to respond to you within 10 working days.

If you are dissatisfied with their response, you can request a further response. If you are still unhappy, you can escalate your complaint and will be advised how to take the matter further. If you remain unhappy with your responses from the BBC Executive you can appeal to the BBC Trust. 

If the Trust upholds your appeal it will apologise to you for the breach in programme standards.

It will also require the BBC Executive to take any appropriate remedial action to guard against the breach occurring again. It may also publish its finding and consider appropriate disciplinary action, like an on-air or published apology or correction. 

Want to find out more?

The BBC and BBC Trust publish a variety of information on complaints, including their latest findings.

The BBC welcomes feedback on its content, which can be submitted in a variety of ways. You can submit comments about BBC programmes through ParentPort’s Have Your Say section.

You can also comment by posting on a BBC Message Board, a BBC Blog or by responding to a BBC Trust consultation.

 More about BBC Message Boards.

 More about BBC Blogs.

 More about BBC Trust consultations