What are C and P programs?
The Children’s Television Standards 2009 (CTS) require commercial television licensees to broadcast minimum annual quotas of children’s programming. All C (children’s) and P (preschool) programs must be classified by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) before broadcast on free-to-air commercial television.
The objectives of the CTS are to ensure that children have access to a variety of quality television programs made specifically for them, including Australian drama and non-drama programs, and to provide for the protection of children from possible harmful effects of television.
How are C and P programs different from G programs?
C and P classified programs are different from material produced for a family audience. They are not simply ‘suitable for’ or even ‘primarily designed for’ children, but designed specifically to meet children’s needs and interests. C and P programs deal with stories, concepts and ideas that are of interest to children and present them in a manner appropriate for the child audience (for example, from the child’s perspective or through the use of age-appropriate themes).
Programs classified G (General) under the Commercial Television Code of Practice must be suitable for children to watch unsupervised, however they are not necessarily intended for, or aimed at, a child audience. G classified programs do however encompass a number of ‘family’ oriented programs.
C and P program classification is based on criteria contained in the Children’s Television Standards 2009 (CTS) and the Australian Content Standard 2005. The Australian Content Standard includes specific criteria which a C, P, or C drama program must meet in order to qualify as an Australian program.
The criteria against which a program is assessed for C and P classification are set out at CTS 6. All programs, whether at provisional or full C or P stage, must meet all the CTS 6 criteria. CTS 6 states that a children’s program is one which:
- is made specifically for children or groups of children; and
- is entertaining; and
- is well produced using sufficient resources to ensure a high standard of script, cast, direction, editing, shooting, sound and other production elements; and
- enhances a child’s understanding and experience; and
- is appropriate for Australian children.
Producers of C classified programs must specify which target age range the program is intended for (for example, an Early C, Middle C or Late C audience). It is important to note that C programs may not necessarily be intended for the entire C audience, as children from 5 to 7 years old have very different interests and developmental needs to children at 10 to 13 years. This target age range information can be found in the list of programs that have been classified C or P.
For a more detailed discussion of the ACMA’s interpretation of the classification criteria please see the document Criteria for a Children’s Program.
Who decides which programs are classified C or P?
Program makers must lodge applications for C or P classification of drama or non-drama programs with the ACMA. The ACMA classifies all C and P programs prior to broadcast, and draws on the expertise of child development experts and television production experts in making classification decisions. Classification decisions are made on completed programs or on proposed programs, including proposed Children’s drama programs at pre-production stage.
Applications for classification can be made for:
- Provisional C classification
- C classification
- C Drama classification
- Provisional P classification
- P classification
Programs that meet the CTS 6 criteria are granted classification for five years.
A list of programs that have been classified C or P by the ACMA can be found on the ACMA website.
Where and when are C and P programs broadcast?
The CTS sets out the specific times that a free-to-air commercial television licensee may broadcast C or P programs. The CTS requires that the licensees broadcast 260 hours of C material each year within a designated C period. The designated C period may fall within the band of 7.00 am to 8.30 am Monday to Friday; 4.00 pm to 8.30 pm Monday to Friday; and 7.00 am to 8.30 pm Saturday, Sunday and school holidays.
The CTS requires that licensees broadcast P material in the P band for a minimum continuous period of 30 minutes every weekday. The P band is defined as 7.00 am to 4.30 pm Monday to Friday.
Actual broadcast times of C or P programs for each licensee can be found by checking local television listings. C and P programs can be identified by the following consumer advice symbols: