Section 17: Interacting with our Audiences


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  1. Jointly Run Competitions



Competitions may be run in all our output and services.  They can often be a valuable tool to help us promote our content and services, reach underserved audiences and be more innovative and creative.  In some cases the outcome of a competition may represent a life-changing opportunity for the winner or winning organisation.

All competitions must be honest, open, fair and legal, meeting the high editorial, ethical and technical standards that our audiences expect.  Prizes must be described accurately.

BBC competitions must adhere to the principles for interactive competitions and votes in the BBC Code of Conduct for Competitions and Voting.

(See Appendix 2 online: Code of Conduct for Competitions and Voting)

In addition to the Editorial Guidelines, there is detailed guidance on all stages of setting up and running a BBC competition, including a mandatory approvals process.

(See Guidance: Audience Interactivity)

In particular:

  • We must ensure there is a clear editorial purpose for any competitions in any medium
  • Competitions must be properly resourced to ensure they can be administered appropriately.  Careful contingency planning must be carried out, both editorial and technical
  • The closing deadline for entries must be made clear to the audience, and sufficient time allowed between closing the competition and announcing the result to ensure that it can be verified
  • All qualifying entries must have the same chance of winning and the winner selection process must be designed to achieve that
  • We should offer a genuine test of skill, knowledge or judgement appropriate to the audience. Appropriate skill must be required to win when premium rate lines are used for competitions, otherwise the competition may be illegal
  • Competitions must be run properly, fairly and openly, and the rules should be published
  • Where a competition is to be judged by a panel, clear criteria should be set and made readily available
  • BBC public service channels must not directly promote any competition which is not organised by or run in conjunction with the BBC
  • We must retain our editorial independence and BBC public service competitions must not promote any service, product or publication
  • We must not require people to buy anything to enter a BBC public service competition unless it is linked to a BBC charity appeal
  • Questions and answers must require an appropriate level of skill from the likely audience and be suitable in tone and subject matter.  They must be factually accurate.  BBC public service competitions should not refer to branded goods or services which are offered as prizes
  • There are specific regulatory requirements for BBC public services governing the acceptance or use of a donated prize for a viewer, listener or online competition, external funding of a prize, bursary or award, or a jointly organised competition.  Any such arrangements must conform to the Framework for Funding Prizes and Awards which is referred to in the Agreement accompanying the BBC Charter.

(See Appendix 4 online: Framework for Funding Prizes and Awards)


Jointly Run Competitions


We may run BBC public service competitions jointly with an appropriate organisation such as an academic or artistic institution.  But we must pay a substantial part of the costs and no money from the outside organisation should flow into any programme budget.

The BBC must retain editorial control and have technical oversight and approval of the overall competition.

Any proposal to run a competition jointly with a third party must be referred to Editorial Policy and the Interactivity Technical Advice and Contracts Unit (ITACU) at an early stage.



We should not normally run BBC public service competitions with a commercial organisation.  However, it may be possible:

  • to join with a publication or other media organisation to run a competition for a co-sponsored award or an award for skills associated with broadcasting (such as journalism, music or drama or other BBC initiatives)
  • for local radio stations to join a regional publication to present a local award.


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