Changes to timebands and classifications on free-to-air television

We asked How to DAD, Jordan Watson, to explain the changes and to give us a tour on how parental locks work and how you can use them.

Click on the video to watch.

From 1 May 2020 classifications and timebands on
free‑to‑air television are changing.

The way we watch free-to-air television has changed dramatically over the past 10 years. We don’t always watch programmes at fixed times, we record and watch later, we access content across a range of platforms and devices, and parental locks are more widely available, including on all free-to-air enabled televisions.

To keep up with these changes, free-to-air classifications have been improved to provide you with more information and to be more consistent with classifications on other media you watch. Some adjustments have also been made to timebands to reflect our changing viewing behaviour and changing technology. The changes come with additional safeguards to help you manage content at home, without harm.

With these changes come new tools to help you protect the children you look after from content that might harm them including:

Parental locks on your television

Clear explanations of what each classification means

Advisory symbols and warnings to inform you of the programme content

Enhanced programme information

This website tells you what the changes are and when they take effect. It also provides useful guidance on how you can keep safe and manage free-to-air television content in your home, and make informed and appropriate choices about what you and your family watch. Importantly, information on how to use parental locks is provided.

When will I see
the changes at my place?

The changes will first be seen on-air on 1 May 2020.

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What media
does this affect?

This change is happening on the free-to-air television channels such as TVNZ 1, TVNZ 2, THREE, Māori TV, Bravo, TVNZ DUKE, Choice, Prime, APNA, Hope, Firstlight, Shine and other channels.

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These channels are available to you free to view either through Freeview TVs, Freeview boxes or through your SKY decoder.

Your Parental Lock

Freeview and SKY enabled televisions let parents block programmes or specific channels (on SKY). This means that you can block or password protect adult content by blocking PG, AO, M, 16 and 18 certificate programmes. Vodafone TV also has parental lock options.

Why are we making these changes?

Broadcasters and the Broadcasting Standards Authority undertook a detailed review. We carried out research and talked to our audiences through a public consultation process. You can find out more about this review on the BSA website here.

Broadcasting Codebook

The BSA and Broadcasters have updated the free-to-air code in the Broadcasting Standards in New Zealand Codebook to reflect these changes. The Codebook is available on the BSA website here.

BSA press release
April 17, 2020

Changes to timebands and classifications are coming to free-to-air (FTA) television on 1 May 2020. A new campaign is launching today, 17 April 2020, to tell viewers, especially parents and caregivers, what they need to know to be ready. With the help of How To DAD Jordan Watson, the Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA) has launched a new television, radio and print media campaign, this new website,, and an entertaining online video that aims to reach as many viewers as possible.

The changes enhance the safeguards that protect children and other viewers from content that might harm them. The safeguards include programme classifications and timebands, including the 8.30pm watershed. The website also promotes the use of parental locks on free-to-air TV and has information about how to manage TV content in the home.  All the information you need to know to get ready for these changes is on this website. 

More information is available from the BSA:

Read more