Why we showed gunman
Many people have been asking whether broadcasters should have transmitted the video that Cho Seung-hui created before he went on his murderous rampage. And I have been asked whether the BBC would have transmitted a similar video if it had emerged after, say, a similar mass killing at a British university.
I think there are different questions, depending on whether one might be the first disseminator of sensitive material. If the BBC had received such a video we would have spoken to the police first to get their assessment of any investigatory, legal or public safety issues that they might want to draw to our attention. We would not be handing editorial control to the police. Its use would be our decision but we would want to take their view into account.
Secondly, we would consider the possible reaction of family and friends of the victim. There are a number of occasions where we have sensitive material which we hold back until families of victims have been informed. In this case we would have wanted to alert the relevant police family liaison officers to tell relatives of some potentially highly upsetting content
Having made those initial calls I believe the BBC, in receipt of such a video, would probably have transmitted some, although not all, of it.
As to what of the NBC video should be transmitted, we decided what was editorially relevant for our audiences. For our TV audiences, where people are not choosing to watch a specific item in the way the online audience can, we bear in mind the time of day, who may be watching and the editorial purpose. Today we have tried to give context round the short clips we have used. We have interviewed experts who have been able to relate the clips to the emerging picture of the killer's state of mind and what we can learn about why such killings happen.
We have not replayed large chunks of the video endlessly on News 24 or BBC World. We are well aware of the concern that the video may lead others to copy or emulate him. Indeed we have interviewed people discussing that dilemma. However, given that the video is already widely available, we had to judge whether withholding the video from BBC audiences was the appropriate thing to do. We decided that playing short clips, responsibly contextualised, could aid understanding of the story.
However, from 24 hours after our original transmission we will not use moving images or actuality from the video. Stills from the video may be used but we will exercise restraint over excessive use of the more alarming images.