Guidelines

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15.4.8

There are many external activities which are likely to raise issues in connection with conflicts of interests.  These range from writing commitments (such as regular articles, columns or blogs), through to political activities, public appearances and media training, to appearing in commercial advertisements and giving endorsements.

(See Guidance: Conflicts of Interest)

 

Writing Commitments

News and Current Affairs, Global News, News Staff in the Nations

 

15.4.9

BBC News and Current Affairs staff, and correspondents and freelances primarily known as BBC news presenters or reporters should not normally write regular columns for non-BBC websites or external publications which are not published by or for the BBC.

In particular, they should not write a regular column which deals with:

  • news, current affairs, politics or current world affairs
  • economics, business or finance
  • matters of public policy, political or industrial controversy
  • media issues
  • moral or ethical issues or religion.

One-off articles on any of these areas must be referred to a senior level in the relevant division.

(See Guidance: Conflicts of Interest)

 

15.4.10

Specific permissions are required for those working in news areas to publish books.  The book should not compromise the integrity or impartiality of the BBC.  See the Guidance on Conflict of Interest on the Editorial Policy website.

Other Areas

 

15.4.11

Programme makers, editorial staff, reporters and presenters in non-news areas may all wish to undertake journalistic work, write articles or write books.  Such activity should not bring the BBC into disrepute.

 

15.4.12

No BBC staff journalist can write a regular newspaper or magazine column dealing with current affairs or matters of public policy, political or industrial controversy, or any other 'controversial subject'.

(See Section 4 Impartiality: 4.4.5 - 4.4.6)

 

Letters to the Press

15.4.13

Programme makers, editorial staff, reporters and presenters primarily associated with the BBC must clear with their head of department and the Press Office any letters to the press, if they deal with the subject matter of the programmes, relate to the BBC or broadcasting, or concern matters of public policy, political or industrial controversy, or any other 'controversial subject'.

(See Section 4 Impartiality: 4.4.5 - 4.4.6)

Presenters who present programmes for the BBC only occasionally should normally clear letters relevant to the subject matter of their programmes if they are to be published around the time of transmission.

 

Public Speaking and Other Public Appearances

15.4.13

It is important that no public speaking commitments or other public appearances are seen to undermine the objectivity or integrity of the BBC or its content, or suggest BBC endorsement of a third party organisation, product, service or campaign.

Although freelance presenters of BBC programmes may gain a proportion of their non-BBC income from off-air public appearances, they must guard against appearances which undermine their on-air role.  They should not allow the use of the BBC's name or brands in connection with advertising for a public appearance.  There should be no suggestion of a BBC connection or endorsement of the third party event or organisation, unless it is editorially appropriate and has been approved by the relevant head of department.

 

News and Current Affairs Staff, Global News and News Staff in the Nations

 

15.4.15

BBC News and Current affairs staff, BBC correspondents on non-staff contracts and freelances known primarily as presenters or reporters on BBC news and current affairs programmes, must remain impartial when speaking publicly or taking part in similar events, such as a public discussion or debate.  They must not promote any political party, campaigning organisation or lobby group.  They should not chair conferences which are a promotional exercise for a commercial company, that supports any political parties, or is one-sided on a matter of public policy, political or industrial controversy or any other 'controversial subject'.

Media Training

15.4.16

It may be appropriate for BBC presenters, senior editorial figures or programme or other content makers to speak at conferences or other events about matters pertaining to broadcasting, journalism or general production.

However, there are considerable dangers of conflicts of interest which could lead to the BBC's editorial integrity, independence and impartiality being compromised, if individuals train interviewees or organisations on how to present themselves in the media.  Permission must be obtained from line managers before making any such commitments and we should ask freelance presenters about their work in this area to ensure there is no conflict of interest.

 

News and Current Affairs Staff, Global News and News Staff in the Nations

 

15.4.17

BBC News and Current Affairs staff, and correspondents and freelances primarily known as BBC news presenters or reporters must not undertake any media training work. Under no circumstances should they interview anyone they have previously trained.

Charities and Campaign Work

15.4.18

Any work undertaken for, or in support of, a charity, charities or charitable cause should not imply BBC endorsement for one charity or cause above others.  There will be particular sensitivities if the charity deals with, and/or campaigns on, matters of public policy, political or industrial controversy, or any other 'controversial subject'.  BBC employees must also take care that their impartiality is not compromised by associating themselves with a charity operating in the same area as the programming on which they work.

Any proposal by individuals to work for, or be publicly associated with, charities and campaigning groups must be referred to the head of department, who may wish to consult Editorial Policy.

 

News, Current Affairs, Consumer and Topical Programmes

 

15.4.19

Presenters, reporters and editorial people in news, current affairs, topical and consumer programmes should not normally associate themselves with any campaigning body, particularly if it backs one viewpoint in a controversial area of policy.  News presenters should not normally front a campaign for a charity or campaigning body as this could undermine the BBC's reputation for impartiality.  Any exceptional cases must be referred to Editorial Policy.

 

Political Activities

15.4.20

Some individuals may wish to become involved in political activity and they are free to do so when it is consistent with both the nature of their work for the BBC and the BBC's public service obligations.  Political activity by individuals, including on-air talent on long-term contracts, must not compromise the BBC's impartiality or undermine public confidence in the BBC.  Judgements about what is acceptable will reflect individual circumstances, including the type of activity and the nature of the individual's BBC role.  Political activity or taking a public position on an issue of public policy, political or industrial controversy, or any other 'controversial subject' is likely to be incompatible with some BBC roles, especially in news, current affairs and, sometimes, in general factual programmes.  The risk to BBC impartiality is unlikely to be significant for entertainment or drama.  Advance discussion with line managers is essential.

Chief Adviser Politics must be consulted at an early stage if there is any possibility of political activity being perceived as a risk to BBC impartiality.

(See Section 4 Impartiality: 4.4.5 - 4.4.6)

 

15.4.21

Anyone is entitled to be a non-active member of a political party or other organisation within the law.  However, individuals in some roles need to consider whether public disclosure of membership would jeopardise public confidence in their ability to fulfil some or all aspects of their job, or otherwise cause a risk to the perception of the BBC's impartiality.

15.4.22

Active involvement in a political party may give rise to a conflict of interest for BBC staff and other individuals who are publicly associated with the BBC.  This includes on-air talent on long-term contracts.

Seeking nomination as a party candidate in a national or local election, or expressing an intention to stand as an independent candidate, is incompatible with some BBC roles, particularly in news and current affairs and other output areas which may deal with matters of public policy, political or industrial controversy, or any other 'controversial subject'.

Anyone who intends to seek nomination for election at national or local level should discuss with their manager at the earliest opportunity the implications for their professional responsibilities and any potential risk to the BBC's impartiality.

Any intention of a member of BBC staff or other individual associated with the BBC to stand as a candidate in a national or local election, including seeking nomination as a party candidate, must be referred to Chief Adviser Politics before it is publicly known.

 

15.4.23

Many organisations, including campaigning and lobby groups, charities, newspapers and specialist websites, maintain a public position on matters of public policy, political or industrial controversy, or other 'controversial subject'.  Before becoming actively involved with, or offering public support to, an organisation with a partial or campaigning stance on such matters, individuals working for the BBC should give the same consideration to the impartiality risks as is required for party political activity.

(See Section 15 Conflicts of Interest: 15.4.22)

 

15.4.24

Some non-political voluntary public roles, such as school governor or magistrate, may be acceptable even for those involved in editorial decision-making in news and current affairs programmes.  Advice is available from Editorial Policy.

 

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