Section 3: Accuracy
We should make checks to establish the credentials of our contributors and to avoid being "hoaxed". The nature of these checks should be appropriate to the nature and significance of their contribution, the content and the genre.
We should consider whether it is appropriate to make more in depth checks about people who are the main subject of, or who are to make a significant contribution to, the output. This may include ensuring they are interviewed, and if necessary checked by, more than one member of the production team using a combination of the following:
- documentary evidence to validate their identity and story
- corroboration from people other than those suggested by the contributor
- self declaration of personal information that may bring the BBC into disrepute, for example, criminal convictions or political affiliation.
Asking some contributors to consent to a Criminal Records Bureau check may also be considered.
We should not use agencies that deal with actors and performers to find people to talk about matters outside their specific profession or experience. It can be useful to contact news and other specialist agencies but all appropriate checks must be carried out on any information or contacts they supply.
Appealing for Contributors
We should only appeal for contributors to factual and factual entertainment programmes as a last resort when other appropriate research methods have been exhausted. When we do use advertisements or make appeals within programmes we must word them carefully to avoid bringing the BBC into disrepute.
There are risks in advertising for contributors whether using posters or personal adverts in newspapers, specialist publications, or the internet. The people who reply are self-selecting and may seek to appear regularly as "serial guests". Appropriate checks should be made to screen out unsuitable or untruthful applicants.
We should not use third party websites that help people wanting to appear in the media, except when seeking contestants or audiences for entertainment programmes. Even then all appropriate checks should be made to screen out unsuitable or untruthful contributors.
The proposed wording of all written appeals, including those for entertainment programmes, must be referred to the relevant divisional representative or, for independents, to the commissioning editor.
Any proposal to use an internet resource (such as a chat room, message board or social networking group) to find contributors must also be referred to the relevant divisional representative or, for independents, to the commissioning editor.
When posting on websites to find contributors or research material, we should normally be identifiable as working for the BBC and, where email details are provided, use a BBC address.