Guidance

This guidance applies to commercial services operated by BBC Global News including BBC World News and bbc.com/news.

 

 

1.0 Introduction

The BBC’s global reputation is based on the strength of its integrity, independence and impartiality. It is essential that the BBC brand is not  damaged by any marketing activity, either off-air or on-air.

BBC Global News Marketing Teams may seek to build awareness of the BBC World News and bbc.com/news brands by participating in third party off-air events, such as conferences, debates, trade fairs, speaker events or exhibitions. Alternatively BBC Global News might want to mount a marketing event to promote editorial content.

If well done, off-air marketing activity may enhance the perception of BBC Global News around the world. However, given the news and current affairs nature of the output, there is a very real danger that such activity, if executed with an inappropriate partner or at a controversial event, could damage the BBC’s reputation for editorial integrity and impartiality.

Global News aims to offer the highest quality news services to audiences around the world and protecting the high reputation for impartiality is crucial.  The BBC Editorial Guidelines state that “News in whatever form must be treated with due impartiality, giving due weight to events, opinion and main strands of argument.”

(See Editorial Guidelines Section: Impartiality 4.2.2)

 

2.0 Referral and Approval

This guidance note sets out the considerations for participation in events or setting up off air events to raise brand awareness. In addition to this guidance, it is very important that Fair Trading requirements are also met. The Fair Trading Guidance Note, Events – BBC World News should be read and a Fair Trading Adviser consulted if there are any fair trading concerns.

Any proposals for BBC Global News to mount off-air events for marketing purposes which are sponsored or to participate in third party events for marketing purposes must be approved by the relevant senior editorial figure in BBC Global News and by the Director of Marketing, Global News, or their delegated representative. Editorial Policy should be consulted where required and where there are concerns.

For BBC World News, the relevant senior editorial figure is Head of Programmes, or for events involving BBC News talent, Head of News, BBC World News. For bbc.com, the relevant senior editorial figure is the bbc.com Development Editor.

There should be no agreement to participate in a third party event, nor should specific sponsorship of event proposals be made to an external organisation, without the relevant approvals in writing.

3.0 Principles

  • Marketing and off-air activities must not undermine the BBC’s editorial integrity, independence or impartiality.
  • Marketing and off-air activities must not endorse or give the impression of BBC endorsement of a commercial brand, company, service, product or non-commercial organisation.
  • Marketing and off-air activities must not damage the BBC’s reputation or bring it into disrepute.
  • There must be no suggestion that a sponsor or an advertiser can influence BBC editorial.
  • The main purpose of the mounting or participation in an off-air event should be to support BBC editorial content or the promotion of the overall brand. BBC Global News Marketing Teams must not mount events which are designed to promote a sponsor’s brand or are designed to endorse a sponsor or other third party.
  • All advertising and sponsorship must meet the Advertising and Sponsorship Guidelines for BBC Commercial Services.
  • Any arrangements for events run or co-run by or with a third party require great care. Audiences must be able to trust the BBC and be confident that commercial interests have not influenced editorial content. Marketing activity should be in accordance with the Editorial Guidelines for BBC Commercial Services on Editorial Integrity and Independence from External Interests.

4.0 BBC Global News Sponsorship of Third Party Events

A typical marketing proposition is for BBC World News to become a sponsor or “media sponsor” at a conference organised by a third party. In such a circumstance it would be appropriate for BBC World News to get adequate marketing benefit back.  

Benefits might include an advert in conference literature, a live feed of BBC World News shown on screens at the conference, a promotional video shown on stage, and/or branding on delegate passes.

Normally third party conferences and events should pay for their advertising on bbc.com/news or BBC World News. However in some cases it may be acceptable, as part of the sponsor or “media sponsor” arrangement, for the event to receive advertising slots on BBC World News or on bbc.com/news, to the equivalent value that BBC Global News receives in marketing terms. However this must be done with great care in order not to suggest endorsement of the advertiser. Editorial Policy should be consulted on any proposal for a third party event to receive advertising in a barter agreement.

Using BBC talent at the event may also be requested by the third party. There is guidance on this later in this note.

(See Section 5.0: Use of BBC News Talent for Marketing Purposes)

4.1 Sole Sponsorship

It is not normally appropriate for BBC Global News to be the only sponsor of a third party event. It may be more appropriate to be involved if there are multiple sponsors. However, if there is anything controversial about the other sponsors or “media sponsors” that would bring the BBC into disrepute if BBC Global News and/or a BBC logo was associated with them, then the BBC should not be involved in the activity. If in doubt, Editorial Policy should be consulted.

It may be acceptable for a BBC Global News commercial service, such as BBC World News, to be designated the only “media sponsor” amongst a group of multiple other sponsors. For example, it may be acceptable for BBC Global News to be the only media organisation connected to the event and therefore to be designated the “media sponsor” while the other organisations involved are designated as sponsors. 

4.2 Types of Organisation

The BBC should not be connected to events by organisations:

  •  whose aims or objects are wholly or mainly of a political nature
  •  who are involved in pornography or sexual services
  •  who are religious organisations
  •  who are primarily known for tobacco products/smoking accessories
  • who are primarily known for manufacturing weapons

Any proposal to be involved in an event by organisations primarily known for products or services connected to the following must be discussed at any early stage with the relevant senior editorial figure and with Editorial Policy:

  • alcohol
  • betting, gaming, gambling, casinos and lotteries
  • dating services
  • infant formula (baby milk)

(For any proposals involving governments see Section: 4.2.3, for lobby groups, see Section: 4.2.4)

 

 

4.2.1 A Single Commercial Organisation

It is not normally appropriate for BBC Global News to be a sponsor or a “media sponsor” for an event run or funded by a single commercial organisation. For example it would not normally be acceptable to be a “media sponsor” of a single airplane company’s event or a single telecoms operator’s conference.

 

On occasion it may be acceptable to be involved with a single company  where the primary function of that company is to organise events on behalf of an industry or group of organisations.  Editorial Policy should be consulted about any such proposal.

It is not normally appropriate for BBC Global News to be a sponsor or a “media sponsor” for an event run or funded by a single commercial organisation. For example it would not normally be acceptable to be a “media sponsor” of a single airplane company’s event or a single telecoms operator’s conference.

 

On occasion it may be acceptable to be involved with a single company  where the primary function of that company is to organise events on behalf of an industry or group of organisations.  Editorial Policy should be consulted about any such proposal.

It is not normally appropriate for BBC Global News to be a sponsor or a “media sponsor” for an event run or funded by a single commercial organisation. For example it would not normally be acceptable to be a “media sponsor” of a single airplane company’s event or a single telecoms operator’s conference.

 

On occasion it may be acceptable to be involved with a single company  where the primary function of that company is to organise events on behalf of an industry or group of organisations.  Editorial Policy should be consulted about any such proposal.

It is not normally appropriate for BBC Global News to be a sponsor or a “media sponsor” for an event run or funded by a single commercial organisation. For example it would not normally be acceptable to be a “media sponsor” of a single airplane company’s event or a single telecoms operator’s conference.

On occasion it may be acceptable to be involved with a single company  where the primary function of that company is to organise events on behalf of an industry or group of organisations.  Editorial Policy should be consulted about any such proposal.

4.2.2 Trade Bodies and Groups of Organisations

It may be acceptable for BBC Global News to be a sponsor or a “media sponsor” for an event run or funded by a trade body or a group of organisations or to jointly organise an event with a trade body or group of organisations. For example, while it is not normally acceptable to sponsor a conference organised by a single airline, it may be acceptable to be a sponsor of a conference organised by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which represents about 230 airlines.

In order not to damage BBC Global News reputation for impartiality, it is not appropriate to be a sponsor or a “media sponsor” for an event run or funded by a trade body or a group of organisations where the body represents or holds only one significant strand of opinion on a clearly controversial issue, particularly if it is politically contentious.

The BBC Guidelines help in considering whether an issue is controversial:

In determining whether subjects are controversial, we should take account of: 

  • the level of public and political contention and debate
  • how topical the subjects are
  • sensitivity in terms of relevant audiences’ beliefs and culture
  • whether the subjects are matters of intense debate or importance in a particular nation, region or discrete area likely to comprise at least a significant part of the audience
  • a reasonable view on whether the subjects are serious
  • the distinction between matters grounded in fact and those which are a matter of opinion

(See Editorial Guidelines Section: Impartiality 4.4.6)

For example, as there are controversies about which forms of energy the world should use in the future, to protect the BBC’s reputation for impartiality it would not be appropriate for BBC Global News to sponsor an event run by a trade body representing only one section of the energy industry, such as the petroleum companies.

Or for example, it would not be acceptable to collaborate on an event with an organisation that is funded by a third party that makes outspoken comments on one side of the Arab/Israeli conflict.

4.2.3 Governments and Government Agencies

It would be difficult to see how it would be acceptable for BBC Global News to be a sponsor or a “media sponsor” for an event run by or funded by a single government or to jointly organise an event with one, as this would seem too close an association.

A possible exception might be where an event was organised by a government funded tourism or trade board and the subject of the event is not predominately about the host country.

There may be instances where it may be acceptable to be involved with an international body that represents many governments. For example it would not be appropriate to be involved with a French Government environmental body but it may be acceptable to be involved with an event organised by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development which is owned by 63 countries, the European Union and the European Investment Bank.

Any proposal to be involved in an event organised or funded by a single government must be discussed at any early stage with the relevant senior editorial figure.

The nature of any event connected to governments must be examined carefully, to ensure that it is not of a campaigning nature, nor appears to promote a controversial viewpoint or to promote the government or its policies, nor attempts to alter views about a nation where these may raise issues of impartiality. Advice from Editorial Policy must be sought well in advance for any event involving government bodies.

Editorial Policy should be consulted about any proposal involving the British Government  because of considerations about impartiality.

4.2.4 Pressure and Lobby Groups

It is not normally appropriate to be involved with an individual pressure group or a body which lobbies or campaigns for political change. The relevant senior editorial figure should be consulted at an early stage about any proposed marketing activity involving a charitable body, pressure or political lobby group. Editorial Policy should be consulted.

4.3 Type of Event

If the other guidance points are met, it is normally acceptable to be involved with an event or activity with a broad range of subject matter, strands of opinion or debate and with a broad range of speakers with different viewpoints. It may not be appropriate to be connected to an event with a narrow selection of speakers from the same organisation, or who are likely to hold similar significant viewpoints.

While controversial subject matter does not rule out BBC Global News involvement, the BBC should be satisfied that a broad range of perspectives and opinions on controversial subjects will be covered or discussed.

Editorial Policy advice should be sought and the relevant senior editorial figure consulted at an early stage.

For example BBC Global News Marketing should not be involved in a conference on the food industry where the subject matter and speakers will in all probability advocate the benefits of genetically modified crops, or conversely will all speak against genetic crops.

A controversial speaker at a conference should also be flagged to a senior editorial figure at an early stage. For example a speaker representing a company that has been involved in a scandal or unethical behaviour would be considered controversial. A controversial speaker is a bigger problem if BBC talent is involved with that section of the event.

(See also Section 5.0: Use of BBC News Talent for Marketing Purposes)

Consideration should be given to whether the context of a particular organisation putting on an event about certain subject matter could cause controversy. If in doubt, Editorial Policy should be consulted.

4.4 Location of Event

The holding of a third party event on BBC premises may give the impression of BBC endorsement. This might be an issue particularly if the event were to be held on BBC premises in the UK where the BBC is known as a public service broadcaster. Any proposal to hold a third party event on BBC premises in the UK should be referred to the relevant senior editorial figure and Editorial Policy should be consulted.

4.5 Repeat Activity

Repeat business requires the same consideration as the initial activity. It may be acceptable to collaborate with a particular organisation one year, but not the next, because by the following year something has happened in the news that raises the level of public contention about the organisation or subject matter.

4.6 Use of BBC Logos

BBC logos should not be used in a way that implies endorsement of a third party, whether the logos are used at an event or in accompanying literature and publicity. The positioning of the logo should make it clear that BBC Global News is associated with the event only.

The logo should not normally be used more prominently than those of other sponsors or “media sponsors” of the event.

Any use of a BBC logo must be consistent with the BBC Brand and Design Guidelines. 

4.7 Record Keeping

Records must be kept of all third party events which BBC Global News Marketing is involved with.

It may be helpful to keep a chart of the third party events to provide an easy way to check the variety of the organisations and help avoid the perception of endorsement of one company, group or sector.

4.8 On-Air Coverage by BBC Global News of a Third Party Event involving Global News Marketing

If BBC Global News is a “media sponsor” of a third party event for marketing purposes, the event or sections of it should only be broadcast/covered by BBC Global News if there is editorial justification. It should be an event which would have been covered editorially regardless of the media sponsorship.

For example if BBC World News was a “media sponsor” of an appropriate literature festival and the World News editorial team wanted to interview an author who was appearing at the festival, this is likely to be acceptable if the editorial team is seeking the interview for purely editorial reasons.

Marketing teams should not commit the BBC to broadcasting from an event as part of their negotiations to become a “media sponsor”, nor should they agree how any editorial will be covered.  

Care should also be taken when the event is advertised on BBC World News or bbc.com/news. Any advertising of the event on BBC World News or bbc.com should not make reference to any sessions that BBC World News is editorially hosting for broadcast. On bbc.com/news if there is a link to the event site from an advert, the BBC World News on-air session should not be prominent on the link and should not be referred to on the first page that is linked to.

5.0 Use of BBC News Talent for Marketing Purposes

Third parties often request BBC talent to chair a debate at a conference or to be a speaker themselves at an event, as part of a sponsorship/”media sponsor” arrangement. It is important that talent involvement, in addition to the sponsorship, does not lead to a perception of BBC endorsement. 

Any proposal for a BBC News presenter or correspondent to appear at a third party event must be approved by the relevant senior editorial figure to ensure that the activity does not undermine the integrity or independence of BBC Global News output. Particular care must be taken with core news presenters, who are the face of news, representing its impartiality.

It may be acceptable for a BBC presenter or correspondent to chair a couple of sessions at a third party conference or event that runs over several days, as long as there is nothing about the subject matter or the speakers that would bring the BBC into disrepute or undermine the BBC’s impartiality or integrity. The speakers should represent a cross-section of strands of opinion.

If a presenter or correspondent is asked to be a speaker themselves, either separately or as part of a debate, the subject matter and other speakers, if it is part of a debate, should also be acceptable.

The more presenter involvement with an event that the BBC has, the greater the risk of a perception that the BBC endorses an organisation and its event. It is not likely to be acceptable for a BBC presenter to host the whole of a third party conference or event that runs over several days. It is not acceptable for a BBC presenter/correspondent to moderate a one sided debate with a panel all of one strand of opinion.

Where a BBC News presenter is approached by a third party to take part in an event outside of their work for the BBC, they should ensure that this meets the Conflict of Interest Guidelines and additional guidance. Approval should be sought from the Head of News, BBC World News.

(See Editorial Guidelines Section 15: Conflicts of Interest and also Conflict of Interest Guidance)

6.0 Events mounted by BBC Global News in support of the Brand or of Programming

The main purpose of a BBC Global News marketing event must be to support BBC brands or BBC editorial content.

6.0.1 Location of Global News Marketing Events

Any event must be held at an appropriate location that will not damage the reputation of the BBC brand.

It is not normally appropriate to host an event internationally at a British Government location, such as an embassy, in order to protect the BBC’s reputation for impartiality and avoid the perception that the BBC is influenced by the Government. Editorial Policy should be consulted about any exception.

6.1 Events involving Programme Sponsors

In some cases a BBC off-air event may be sponsored. Where the event is content-related, the sponsor connected to the event should normally be the sponsor of the particular content being promoted, rather than a sponsor who has another connection to BBC Global News.

Any proposal for a sponsor who is not directly related to the editorial content being promoted must be discussed with the Head of Programmes, BBC World News at an early stage and Editorial Policy should be consulted.

Content sponsorship must not be used by sponsors for the primary purpose of enabling sponsorship of an associated event. 

6.1.1 Endorsement

If BBC Global News puts on an off-air event in conjunction with a sponsor of editorial content the event should not be designed to endorse the sponsor. For example, it is not appropriate to put on an event designed to strengthen the sponsor’s brand. The main aim of the event should be to promote the editorial content, and within reasonable parameters, credit the sponsor.   Nothing in the staging of the event should appear to give the impression that BBC World News is endorsing the sponsor or its activities. In order to avoid any impression that the sponsor has influenced the content of the event itself it is not appropriate, for example, for a representative from the sponsor, such as a CEO, to make a substantive speech or to take part in any debate or panel discussion.

However it may be appropriate for the sponsor to explain their business and the nature of the relationship between it and the editorial content it is sponsoring, for example with a handout at the event. Any sponsor activity must be proportionate to the scale of the event. With very large events, such as a programme viewing and a debate in a large conference hall, it may be appropriate for a programme sponsor to have a small stand explaining their business and products or services in the foyer of the event. Distinction must always be maintained between the sponsor and its activities on the one hand., and BBC Global News, the editorial content sponsored, and the content of the event itself on the other.  For example, sponsor-provided handouts must not be given out by BBC Global News staff.

BBC Global News must approve the design, size, and content of the sponsor’s stand or handout  – all requests for sponsor activity at a BBC Global News events must be approved by the Director of Marketing, Global News.

6.1.2 Guest Lists

If the off-air event is hosted by BBC Global News, the sponsor may invite their own guests, in consultation with BBC Global News to highlight their association with the programme. The BBC invite list may consist of relevant press, distribution partners and organisations likely to be interested in the content.

6.1.3 Hosting of Event

A representative from BBC Global News may host the evening and introduce any audio/visual material relating to the content.

If the off-air event is hosted by BBC Global News, a representative from the sponsoring organisation can be invited to say a few words about their decision to sponsor the editorial content being promoted at the event.

6.1.4  Form of Event

The off-air event can take the form of a screening and Q&A session or – if it fits with the content – a lecture, panel discussion or debate on a theme related to the content.

6.1.5 Branding of Event

The main branding at the event will be the content branding. It is normally appropriate to use a BBC Global News logo and it may be appropriate for the sponsoring organisation’s logo to appear as well, however any use must be consistent with the BBC Brand and Design Guidelines and approval should be sought from Director of Marketing, Global News.

6.1.6 Location of Event

The event may normally be held on BBC premises or at a third party venue. It is not normally appropriate for BBC Global News to host an event at the sponsor’s premises.

6.2 Sponsors' Events

There may be instances where a sponsor plans to host its own event, for example to celebrate an anniversary, and they may wish to have a section of the event that marks their sponsorship of the BBC content. If there is nothing about the sponsor’s event that might damage the reputation of the BBC, or the perception of its impartiality, independence and integrity, it may be acceptable for BBC Global News to produce its own off-air event within the wider sponsor’s event.  

The sponsor must not give the impression that they “own” the related BBC content, rather the context should be one of being proud to sponsor or to be associated with the content. BBC talent should not take part in the sponsor’s main event.

6.2.1 Hosting, Location and Guest Lists of Sponsors’ Events

The main event will be hosted by the sponsor, at a venue of their choice and with their guest list. The guest list for the BBC Global News off-air “event within the event” should, however, include relevant press and media organisations for publicity purposes. BBC Global News should ensure the location is acceptable before agreeing to take part.

It is not normally appropriate for such an event to take place on BBC premises.

6.2.2 Global News Events within a Sponsor’s Event

If BBC Global News is providing “an off-air event within a sponsor’s main event”, the BBC must have editorial control over how its event is introduced and publicised.

The BBC Global News event should be directly relevant to the sponsored content and comply with BBC editorial guidelines, for example on accuracy and impartiality. It should carry the content branding plus may carry the BBC World News or a BBC Global News logo.

The sponsor’s logo can normally appear as sponsorship bumpers in any video extracts from the content. As it is very important to avoid the impression of endorsement of the sponsor by BBC Global News, any proposal for the sponsor’s logo to be on the main stage for the BBC Global News event, should be discussed with Editorial Policy.

The BBC Global News event can take the form of a debate, lecture, talk or Q&A session as appropriate to reflect the tone and content of the content that is being promoted.

No-one from the sponsoring organisation can participate in the BBC Global News part of the event.

All the participants in the “event within an event” should be contracted by BBC Global News and not the sponsoring organisation.

6.3 On-Air Coverage of an Event involving a Programme Sponsor

Any proposal for any section of a BBC marketing event involving a sponsor to be filmed and broadcast must be referred at an early stage to Head of Programmes, BBC World News and Editorial Policy should be consulted.

BBC News and Current Affairs content may not be sponsored directly.

(see Advertising and Sponsorship Guidelines for BBC Commercial Services Section 6.2.1.1)

Editorial Policy should be consulted if it is proposed that discussions at an off air event will range more widely than the parameters of the content itself.

6.4 BBC Global News Marketing Events which do not involve a Programme Sponsor

BBC Global News mounts events to promote content where no content sponsor is involved. It also mounts events to promote a genre of content and events to promote the Global News commercial brands more generically, such as hospitality events.

6.4.1 Multiple Sponsors

If BBC Global News is putting on an off-air event to promote editorial content, without involvement from a sponsor, it may be appropriate to take multiple sponsors for the event. 

6.4.2 A Single Commercial Organisation

It is not normally acceptable for BBC Global News to run a significant event with a single commercial organisation unless they are the relevant content sponsor for an event about that content or they are part of a wider collaboration with Global News, because this could give the impression of BBC endorsement of an organisation.

A single third party should not normally sponsor an event to promote an overarching BBC brand, such as BBC World News, to avoid the impression that the brand endorses the third party.

However, in some cases it may be acceptable to take a single commercial sponsor for a modest off air event, such as a screening of a programme or a drinks reception. The event must not be broadcast or published online and the sponsor should be appropriate, meeting the requirements in this guidance.

(See Section 4.2: Types of Organisation)

Any proposals to take a single sponsor that is not the relevant programme sponsor should be referred at an early stage to the relevant senior editorial figure. Editorial Policy should also be consulted.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.