Code of Ethics

Statement of Principles of Radio and Television Broadcasters
Issued by The Board of Directors of The National Association of Broadcasters


The following Statement of Principles of radio and television broadcasting was adopted by the Board of Directors of the National Association of Broadcasters on behalf of the Association and commercial radio and television stations it represents.

America’s free over-the-air radio and television broadcasters have a long and proud tradition of universal, local broadcast service to the American people. These broadcasters, large and small, representing diverse localities and perspectives, have strived to present programming of the highest quality to their local communities pursuant to standards of excellence and responsibility. They have done so and continue to do so out of respect for their status as daily guests in the homes and lives of a majority of Americans and with a sense of pride in their profession, in their product and in their public service.

The Board issues this statement of principles to record and reflect what it believes to be the generally-accepted standards of America’s radio and television broadcasters. The Board feels that such a statement will be particularly useful at this time, given public concern about certain serious societal problems, notably violence and drug abuse.

The Board believes that broadcasters will continue to earn public trust and confidence by following the same principles that have served them will for so long. Many broadcasters now have written standards of their own. All have their own programming policies. NAB would hope that all broadcasters would set down in writing their general programming principles and policies, as the Board hereby sets down the following principles.

Principles Concerning Program Content
Responsibly exercised artistic freedom

The challenge to the broadcaster often is to determine how suitably to present the complexities of human behavior without compromising or reducing the range of subject matter, artistic expression or dramatic presentation desired by the broadcaster and its audience. For television and for radio, this requires exceptional awareness of considerations peculiar to each medium and of the composition and preferences of particular communities and audiences.

Each broadcaster should exercise responsible and careful judgement in the selection of material for broadcast. At the same time each broadcast licensee must be vigilant in exercising and defending its rights to program according to its own judgements and to the programming choices of its audiences. This often may include the presentation of sensitive or controversial material.

In selecting program subjects and themes of particular sensitivity, great care should be paid to treatment and presentation, so as to avoid presentations purely for the purpose of sensationalism or to appeal to prurient interest or morbid curiosity.

In scheduling programs of particular sensitivity, broadcasters should take account of the composition and the listening or viewing habits or their specific audiences. Scheduling generally should consider audience expectations and composition in various time periods.