Section 4: Impartiality

Introduction

Impartiality lies at the heart of public service and is the core of the BBC's commitment to its audiences.  It applies to all our output and services - television, radio, online, and in our international services and commercial magazines.  We must be inclusive, considering the broad perspective and ensuring the existence of a range of views is appropriately reflected.

The Agreement accompanying the BBC Charter requires us to do all we can to ensure controversial subjects are treated with due impartiality in our news and other output dealing with matters of public policy or political or industrial controversy.  But we go further than that, applying due impartiality to all subjects.  However, its requirements will vary.

The term 'due' means that the impartiality must be adequate and appropriate to the output, taking account of the subject and nature of the content, the likely audience expectation and any signposting that may influence that expectation.

Due impartiality is often more than a simple matter of 'balance' between opposing viewpoints.  Equally, it does not require absolute neutrality on every issue or detachment from fundamental democratic principles.

The BBC Agreement forbids our output from expressing the opinion of the BBC on current affairs or matters of public policy, other than broadcasting or the provision of online services.

The external activities of staff, presenters and others who contribute to our output can also affect the BBC's reputation for impartiality.  Consequently, this section should be read in conjunction with Section 15: Conflicts of Interest.