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Full Credit Guidance

This guidance supports the on-air navigation launched in June 2007 to help attract audiences to BBC programmes and services. This takes the shape of a new promotions package to let audiences know what's coming up. This will reduce the size of the credits on screen, check Opening Credits and Closing Credits for examples.

Credits are important to programme-makers, but are usually of limited interest to our audience. The BBC's credit policy balances our desire to reflect significant creative contributions with the reality that lengthy credits make viewers switch over or switch off.

Research shows up to 80% of viewers can leave a programme at the start of the end credits.

The introduction of the new end credit package and durations makes it even more important that we are consistent in the editorial use of credits across our output. Producers are reminded that credits are solely to recognise significant creative contributions to programmes and shouldn't be offered in return for reduced fees. See significant contributions below.

These guidance must be followed to maintain the strength of the BBC brand and ensure consistency among all producers of programmes for the BBC.

The Principles of Crediting

Producers should award credits based solely on the following principles. Advice is available where necessary. See Referrals.

  • Credits should accurately reflect significant creative contributions specific to the programme. For updated definition see significant contributions below.
  • Credits must not be given in return for any payment, reduced fee, benefit or any other advantage.
  • Credits which imply that certain jobs are the preserve of one gender only must not be used. (The exception is Best boy).
  • To ensure that credits are legible on-screen, individual letters should not be less that 20 pixels in height. Technical information available on the Credit Positioning download. See also Readability below.
  • End credits must be between 25–30". See the Programme Numbers (UIDs) and Durations page for more information.
  • Live Sport and Entertainment shows where credits can be shorter and horizontal credit scrollers are allowed, but these should still adhere to the new format and duration guidance.
  • Children's programmes where they should be 20" and have a specific layout - see the guidance for closing credits.
  • End credits should run over visually interesting graphics or live action but this should not be editorially critical to the integrity of the programme or include speech as they may be shrunk to accommodate promotional messages.
  • End Credits should be justified to the centre and must be either cards or vertical scroller
  • End credits should not include action which is editorially critical to the integrity of the programme (including production-made trails or helpline information).
  • Credits need to conform to the BBC Editorial Guidelines - (Editorial Integrity & Independence)

Find details of how End Credits should be delivered.

A-Z of Credits

Acquired Programmes

For single documentaries, animation or filmed music product the credits and captions must be compliant with this guidance. For feature films and acquired series, it is understood that at the point of delivery the credits may well not be compliant to BBC specification in terms of duration or graphic safe areas.

Archive Credits

Archive suppliers may be credited for their Significant Creative Contribution (see below) if the credit is approved by the BBC Executive producer/ Commissioning Executive. In considering approval of an archive supplier credit the following criteria will be used to assess significance of the creative contribution - Editorial importance; Exclusivity; Duration/Volume; Additional support; Contractual requirements. Where an archive house has provided additional support, for example archive research, that has involved a significant creative contribution, a credit may be given to an individual or to the archive supplier, but not to both.

Charity References

References must not be made in end credits to charities without prior referral to Natalie Christian in Editorial Policy.

Choice of credits

To keep lists short, credits should be generic where possible: e.g. when several people have carried out allied production roles, the credit Production Team may be appropriate. See also Multiple names under one credit.

Refer to the details of in-house copyright line requirements and independent copyright lines.

Credit Documentation

Accurate details of End Credits must be given on programme Transmission Forms. Information must include details of the first and last credit and the exact duration of the sequence from its first appearance on screen to the point at which production consider the programme finished (ie before the 10" safety hold).

See also Post Credit Sequences and Promotions Over End Credits.

Credit groups

Credits are grouped in these guidance under overall headings, e.g. performers, crafts. This arrangement makes it easier to find the right credit. See Closing Credits.

Credits not listed should not be used without prior referral.

Exceptional circumstances

In exceptional circumstances we may be required contractually to give credits on some co-productions, for performers and writers in specific productions and under the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. In every other case producers exercise their discretion in accordance with The Principles of Crediting. The BBC will try - but cannot guarantee - to transmit all agreed credits. There may be times when we have to cut or drop them without warning.

Final cards

Look up your final card requirements under Branding Guidelines and Logos.

Foreign broadcasters

Foreign broadcasting organisations which supply or relay programmes to BBC Television may, at our discretion, receive an end credit, which should appear before the final card, thus:

  • For national broadcasters, the country and the channel e.g. Presentation by TF1 France
  • for regional or local broadcasters, the city or town together with the company, e.g. NDR Hamburg
  • a general acknowledgment is occasionally appropriate when several national services co-operate, e.g. a German Television Presentation. 

This should usually be agreed at commission/contract stage. If not, then producers should consult with the contract lawyer and central.marketing@bbc.co.uk

Grammar and Spelling

Credits and captions should be checked for spelling or grammatical mistakes. Typical pitfalls to avoid are misplaced apostrophes and lower case letters for names or the beginnings of sentences. See also Name style.

Helplines/Action Lines

Information about Helplines or Action Lines and other public service support material should NOT be included in end credits.

Productions requiring a Helpline/Action Line should include this information in the body of the programme. If this is impractical, production should contact Media Planning (Head: Jo Wilkinson) to arrange for the information to be presented over the end credits during playout, using the credit squeeze process.

Programme makers may contact Audrey McCallum at Capita to book a Helpline or Action Line.

Honours and Qualifications

Honours, titles, decorations, and professional or academic qualifications should not normally be included in credits (or captions) unless they are relevant to the circumstances in which the person appears. See also Name style.

Independent Productions

The BBC's contracts with independent producers give us the final say on credits. The BBC requires all independent productions' credit proposals to meet the terms of this guidance. Any queries or exceptions should be referred to the BBC Executive producer for the relevant programme.

Locations

If a producer judges that it would be of interest to the audience to know the name of a location used in a programme (and it is not apparent from the programme itself) it may be identified in end credits. Such references cannot be given in exchange for a waived or a reduced facility fee, or for any other benefit or advantage. Where a location is given, the name must appear in the same style as the rest of the credit sequence. Location owners' names, logos or house colours cannot be used.

Multiple names under one credit

Where two or more people have contributed to work covered by a single credit - e.g. costume - the relative contributions should be reflected by different type sizes. For example, a senior role would appear in larger type than a junior one. See also Choice of Credits.

Music

There may be times when a producer judges that it would be of interest to the audience to know the name of a piece of music used in a programme. A reference in the credits must be non-promotional and must be limited to the title of the piece and either the composer or the performer, not both.

Name Style

Generally, people's names should appear in credits (and captions) in the style their owners prefer. See also Honours and qualifications.

News Programmes

There should be no credits for news bulletins or Nations and Regions news magazines.

One person with multiple roles

No individual should normally be named in a credit list more than once. Where someone has fulfilled more than one credit-worthy function he/she may be credited for both (if more than 2 functions they must choose just 2 which most reflected their contribution) in a single credit line, provided the roles are significantly different from each other e.g. "Written and Produced by"

In all other circumstances, proposals to credit someone more than once must be referred before a commitment is made. See also Referrals.

Opening Titles and Credits

There should be no opening credits other than those listed under Opening Credits.

On CBBC, credits for key talent and writers should always be over action.

Where feasible (e.g. in dramas) key talent, writers and senior editorial/production staff should be credited in the opening sequence instead of the end credits. Opening credits should not be repeated in closing credit sequences, except credits for performers.

Order of credits

Given the diversity of programmes there can be no firm rule about the order in which credits are listed. However, the aim should be to run them in a logical sequence starting, where appropriate, with the names of performers or contributors and ending with the name of the person responsible for the production.

Position of Credits and End Credit Promotions

Please see the correct position for all end credits on pre-recorded programmes for BBC One, Two, Three and Four, CBBC and CBeebies.

Post-credit sequences

Post-credit sequences (ie live action sequences which appear after the credits have been run) are not permitted without approval from the relevant commissioning head.

Promotions over End Credits 

Preview trails edited by production into end credits (eg "Next week...") are not permitted. If productions wish to trail the next in the series, this should be done before the end credits.

Readability

To ensure that credits are legible on-screen, consideration must be given to typefaces, graphic style (including contrast with any background used) and roller speed. Please note the type size guidance on the credit positioning download.

Individual letters in credits should not be less that 20 pixels in height and, as some programmes will be shrunk by 46.5% to accommodate end credit promotions, producers are advised to test this percentage reduction during editing to ensure maximum readability.

Re-caps

On CBBC, drama series / continuing narrative programmes should include re-caps pre-title.

Referrals and advice

Referrals should be made where indicated. For further advice consult your BBC Executive Producer or the following:

Branding Queries - central.marketing@bbc.co.uk

Editorial Policy Queries - 0208 00 81819

Significant Creative Contribution

To ensure we recognize those with the greatest creative contribution to a specific programme, we must be consistent about our definitions of what this category includes and excludes:

We should ONLY credit those who have contributed directly to the programme. This does not include overarching managerial roles in companies or departments e.g Heads of Production, Production Execs, Creative Heads, Head of Development, Head of Department, Company Director.

We should not include suppliers who have provided a resource/service for which we have paid a fee and for which there was no creative value added by the company. This is a commercial transaction rather than a creative one. See Suppliers. Any exceptions to this require previous agreement with the BBC Executive Producer.

Suppliers & Facilities

It is not permissible to credit suppliers and facilities who are providing their products or services for a fee and not adding a creative or production role. This is a commercial transaction and a procurement relationship rather than a creative one. Any exceptions to this require previous agreement with the BBC Executive Producer.

It is possible to credit facilities such as post-production houses, where it is clear that a significant creative contribution has been made. Such credits may include the name(s) of the individual(s) or the name of the organisation, but not both.

Under no circumstances can credits be given in exchange for a waived or a reduced fee, or for any other benefit or advantage. No exceptions to this can be considered.

Where it is appropriate to identify an event sponsor in the end credits, the name should appear in the same style as the credits themselves. Event sponsors' logos or house colours cannot be used. All proposed credits for event sponsors must be referred before commitments are made. For sports coverage, find a contact in BBC Sport.

Theatrical organisations

Credits should not be given to theatrical organisations whose performers appear in television programmes, unless required contractually. Where this occurs, the inclusion of a credit must be referred and agreed, in advance. Typical wording is 'Beverley Smith appears by permission of XYZ theatre company'.

Third party commitments

The BBC person responsible for a production must tell anyone who makes a programme for, or in association with, the BBC that they should not make crediting commitments to third parties, e.g. contributors and co-producers, without checking first with the BBC that any proposed credit is permissible.

Tribute credits

Credits such as 'This programme is in memory of X' are not permissible without referral, in advance.

Use of animals

Where animals are used in productions in a way which may give the mistaken impression they have been harmed, it is often wise to include a reassuring caption in the end credits. Typical options are 'The programme-makers/producers would like to give an assurance that no animals were harmed in the filming/making of this programme/episode'.

An explanation of this type is likely to avert complaints from viewers.

Using URLs in Credits and in the body of a programme

Promotional URLs must not include the "www." when they appear on-screen and must always appear "bbc.co.uk/"

This address gives access to the home page of the corresponding BBC web site, which in turn offers access to programme information and any e-mail facility.

Only BBC URLs and email addresses may be used. These may be used by in-house and independent productions.

The URL should be placed on the endboard below the copyright notice.

No reference to any commercial site (including the BBC's) or non BBC email addresses is permitted.

On CBBC, where a programme is included on the CBBC website then the URL which should appear is bbc.co.uk/cbbc

Varying credits in a series

In a series, it may not always be necessary to include every credit-worthy individual in each programme. Depending on what people have contributed it may be more appropriate, for example in a six-parter, to credit some individuals in programmes one, three and six only and others in the remainder only.

Website Guidance

The BBC is trying to focus the number of calls to action it gives its audience to ensure messages that are communicated, are impactful and of direct benefit to the audience.

Only those programmes that have a specific website commission should include a programme URL in their end credits. This should appear as bbc.co.uk/sitename e.g. bbc.co.uk/doctorwho

If there is no associated web commission for a programme, end credits should remain clean of any URL.

With thanks to

This section is the reserve of individuals or organisations who have gone above and beyond the call of duty in helping the programme makers, and without whom the programme could not have been made. It should not include on-screen contributors, suppliers or fixers. Inclusion of such a credit must be separate from any financial negotiation or contractual arrangements. See also The Principles of Crediting.

 

Find Open University Credit Guidance.

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