Guidelines

Section 14: Editorial Integrity and Independence from External Interests

Product Prominence

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  1. Product Prominence in Trails
  2. Undue Prominence and Contributors
  3. Personal Benefits
  4. Reviewing Products or Services
  5. Supply of Props in Drama, Comedy or Entertainment
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14.4.4

We need to be able to reflect the real world and this will involve referring to commercial products, organisations and services in our output.  However, we must avoid any undue prominence which gives the impression that we are promoting or endorsing products, organisations or services.  To achieve this we must:

  • ensure that references to trade names, brand names and slogans are clearly editorially justified
  • not linger on brand names or logos and use verbal references sparingly unless there are very strong editorial reasons for repeated references to a brand
  • not accept free or reduced cost products or services in return for on-air or online credits, links or off-air marketing
  • take particular care to minimise product references in output designed to appeal to children
  • only use material from advertising campaigns or promotions when clearly editorially justified. Generally, it will only be acceptable to use a short extract. There may also be copyright considerations.

(See Section 14 Editorial Integrity and Independence from External Interests: 14.4.19 - 14.4.22)


 

14.4.5

In addition, consideration must be given to the potential cumulative effect when planning to feature a specific product, brand or service numerous times on our output over a limited period, to ensure this does not lead to undue prominence.  The terms "brand" and "product" may also include an artist, performer, or an artistic work such as a film or record, particularly around the time of a new release. 

When planning to feature a specific product, brand or service over a number of programmes or other content (excluding news and current affairs output), broadcast in a short time span (for example, a single day), referral must be made to the relevant output controller(s), who must consider any cumulative impact of such content and whether it is editorially justified as a whole.

Referral must also be made at an early stage to Editorial Policy, who may consult Fair Trading if relevant. 

All on- and off-air marketing arrangements must be appropriate and editorially justified. 

Product Prominence in Trails

14.4.6

We should normally avoid references to commercial products or services in programme trails or BBC programme marketing material.  If any reference to a branded product or service is made we must ensure it is clearly editorially justified.

14.4.7

We should not normally use third party advertising in programme trails. 

Any proposal to include commercial products or advertising clips in programme trails must be referred to Chief Adviser Editorial Policy.

 

Undue Prominence and Contributors

14.4.8

We must avoid undue prominence when contributors appear on chat shows and other programmes where they are promoting a product, such as a film, album or book.  Although proper editorial discussion is perfectly acceptable, the related product should not normally be used as a prop unless clearly editorially justified.  Any visual references, particularly close-ups of an album cover or pages of a book, must have clear editorial justification. 

Personal Benefits

14.4.9

Under no circumstances should anyone working for the BBC receive personal benefits from suppliers, or accept goods or services as inducements.

(See Section 15 Conflicts of Interest: 15.4.30)

Reviewing Products or Services

14.4.10

We must ensure there is no element of plugging when we review products or services.  We should review a range from different suppliers.  We should not normally give details on air of how and where to obtain products or services.  Such details should only be given in exceptional circumstances when there is a very strong editorial justification and we should cover a range of outlets.

In the case of books, CDs, DVDs and other similar material we may normally accept copies for review.  Those responsible for reviewing or covering theatre, concerts or other events or performances may accept review tickets.  However, if we are reviewing products of any significant value, such as a washing machine or a car, we must return the product to the manufacturer or supplier.

Supply of Props in Drama, Comedy or Entertainment

14.4.11

We must ensure the use of, or reference to, branded products, services or organisations in our drama, comedy and entertainment programmes is clearly editorially justified and that a wide range are used over time to avoid undue prominence. 

14.4.12

We should normally ensure that branding is not clearly visible, and close-ups are avoided when real products are used as set dressing.  When brands are shown it is normally difficult to editorially justify a verbal reference as well as a visual one. 

14.4.13

Props are not usually accepted free.  Where possible BBC productions should use the internal prop procurement site and preferred suppliers.  When props are accepted free or at a reduced cost there should be:

  • clear records kept of all free or reduced cost props
  • no guarantee that any product or service will be featured and, if featured, no guarantee that it will be in a favourable light.

(See Guidance: Props)

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