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How to complain to S4C

This document explains how to make a complaint to S4C, including a complaint about a programme (or programmes) broadcast on S4C (or content published by S4C on any platform) and complaints about any matters regarding S4C's compliance with the Welsh Language Standards.

Complaints about S4C Programmes

The S4C Authority is responsible for the provision of S4C's television service and ensuring that the channel's content complies with relevant requirements including the Ofcom Broadcasting Code. The Code is available on Ofcom's website, http://www.ofcom.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0024/49308/Ofcom-broadcast-code-May-2016.pdf

The S4C Authority is also responsible for ensuring that the content of any on-demand programme service provided by S4C complies with the relevant requirements of the Communications Act 2003.

S4C encourages complainants to contact S4C to submit their complaints. However, complainants may also submit complaints about S4C programmes' compliance with relevant Ofcom codes to Ofcom directly: Ofcom, Riverside House, 2a Southwark Bridge Road, London SE1 9HA (www.ofcom.org.uk). In the case of S4C's on-demand services, the S4C Authority is responsible for dealing with complaints about on-demand content.

In relation to the content of advertisements broadcast on S4C or S4C's on-demand service, you can complain to the Advertising Standards Authority (the "ASA"), Mid City Place, 71 High Holborn, London WC1V 6QT (www.asa.org.uk).

If you contact S4C in the first instance, this does not affect your right to refer your complaint to Ofcom or the ASA at any point.

In exceptional circumstances, where it is not practical to follow this procedure, S4C will have the right to vary the procedure. In such instances, S4C will notify the complainant, outlining the reason for doing so.

Other Complaints

Anyone can make a complaint to S4C in relation to S4C's compliance or non-compliance in respect of the Welsh Language Standards.

Any such complaints, and any other complaints regarding S4C's services, will follow the usual S4C complaints procedure as set out below.

Staff Training

Relevant S4C staff will receive appropriate training (on starting their job with S4C and periodically thereafter) in order to deal with any complaints received by S4C effectively and in accordance with this policy.

How to complain

Anyone may make a complaint about S4C by contacting the Viewers' Hotline. This can be done as follows:

  • Complaining via the S4C website: send a complaint
  • Telephoning the S4C Viewers' Hotline on 0370 600 4141. This service is available 7 days a week between the hours of 09:00 and 22:00. A voicemail service is provided outside of these hours and when lines are busy;
  • Writing to: S4C Complaints, Unit 1, Victoria Dock, Caernarfon, Gwynedd LL55 1TH

The Hotline needs to receive any complaint about a programme or content (broadcast by S4C or published by S4C on a platform other than television) within 20 days of the broadcast, or within 20 days of the last date on which the content or programme is available to view on demand. S4C will not be able to consider a complaint received later than this unless there are exceptional circumstances, or there is a valid reason for the delay. It will be for S4C officials to decide, having considered the circumstances, whether to accept or reject a late complaint.

For any other complaint, the Hotline should receive the complaint within 20 days of the circumstance or the failing in relation to which the complaint is made.

When submitting a complaint the details requested on the complaints form (available on the S4C website) need to be provided. S4C does not consider anonymous complaints. In addition, the complainant needs to provide full contact details.

Complainants may ask that their name and contact details are kept confidential but this must be requested at the outset when the complaint is first made. A complainant's details cannot be kept confidential in the case of a complaint relating to fairness or privacy1 where the details of the complaint will have to be discussed with the production company or (in the case of programmes broadcast by BBC Cymru) the BBC.

All of those involved with a complaint are expected to treat each other with respect. If a complainant uses inappropriate, obscene or aggressive language, we may ask for the complaint to be reworded before we consider it. If the complainant is unwilling to do this, we may refuse to deal with the complaint.

The Complaints Process

Stage 1: After receiving the complaint, the Viewers' Hotline will acknowledge receipt thereof within 5 working days. We will normally aim to respond to the complaint within 15 working days.

But where the complaint is more complex, where specialist input is required or where there is a need to contact a third party (such as a production company or BBC Wales), we will aim to respond to the complaint within 50 working days.

Due to their nature, complaints about fairness or privacy are likely to be more complex and to require more time for responding.

Stage 2: Appeal to the Authority's Complaints Committee.

In serious cases where the complainant does not agree with the response from S4C officials, he or she may appeal to the Authority's Complaints and Compliance Committee.

An appeal may be made within 20 working days to receipt of a final response to a complaint from S4C officials. The Secretary to the Authority will acknowledge the appeal document within 5 working days.

The complainant needs to set out clearly in a written document why they are not satisfied with the response from S4C officials.

The document should set out any points contained in the officials' response that need to be reconsidered. The Committee shall not consider any new points that were not previously submitted, unless a refusal to do so would be unfair.

The Committee will not need to consider every appeal it receives and it will be for the Committee to consider whether there is a sufficient reason to consider a request for an appeal before making a final decision.

If an appeal is upheld

Where the Committee upholds an appeal it can:

  • Ensure that S4C apologises to the complainant (where appropriate, for example in the case of an infringement of privacy or unfair treatment);
  • Order S4C officials to put steps in place to ensure that the same injustice or non-compliance cannot be repeated;
  • Publish its decision, including any directions for Officials, on the S4C website.

1 These complaints relate to the way in which broadcasters treat individuals or organisations directly affected by programmes, rather than what the public see/hear as viewers and listeners.

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