Broadcasting Act 1996

The United Kingdom's Broadcasting Act 1996 forms part of the UK's legal framework on electronic communications which includes fixed line, mobile and satellite technologies.

The Broadcasting Act 1996 makes new provision about the broadcasting in digital form of television and sound programme services and the broadcasting in that form on television or radio frequencies of other services. The Broadcasting Act 1996 was given Royal Assent on 24 July. The Broadcasting Act 1996 amends and replaces certain elements of the Broadcasting Act 1990.

The Broadcasting Act 1996

  • legislates for digital terrestrial TV;
  • relaxes ownership provisions; regulate cross-media (newspaper and television) ownership arrangements;
  • introduces a restricted television service licence;
  • strengthens provisions protecting C3 regional programming;
  • alters the C4 funding formula;
  • allows the ITC to regulate commercial services provided by the BBC;
  • merges the BSC and the BCC;
  • introduces a code for the acquisition of rights to listed events.

With the development of the electronic communications infrastructure, 'broadcasting' now is now included in the new definition of audiovisual media services.

Broadcasting Act 1996 - Parts Schedule

Parts I and II

Established a regulatory framework for the development of digital terrestrial broadcasting; Part I for television and Part II for radio.

Part III

Monitoring and Scrutiny, Broadcasting Act 1990, Broadcasting Act 1996

Deals with changes to the Broadcasting Act 1990. These include:

  • altering the mechanism for appointment by Channel 3 of the nominated news provider
  • strengthening powers for the ITC to protect regional programming following change in control of a C3 licensee
  • strengthening of the ITC's powers with regard to the approval of networking arrangements
  • amending to the funding formulae for Channel 4 and S4C
  • introducing of a new class of licence for restricted services
  • extending 'must carry' provisions to digital cable networks where the Commission considers it appropriate.

Part IV

Contains provisions to ensure availability of live coverage of certain listed sporting events to free-to-air television, to be enforced by the ITC.

Part V

Merges the Broadcasting Standards Council and the Broadcasting Complaints Commission to form the Broadcasting Standards Commission.

Part VI

Covers the transfer of property, rights and liabilities relating to the BBC transmission network.

Part VII

Concerns copyright and related matters.


Contains miscellaneous provisions including new standards for transmission systems and new criteria for disqualification from the holding of licences.

Schedule 2

The new limits on media ownership are contained in Schedule 2 to the Broadcasting Act 1996

Supervision and enforcement

The Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) supervises the regime, with Ofcom and the Advertising Standards Authority enforcing regulatory breaches under the Broadcasting Codes.


Broadcasting Act 1996