Section 17: Interacting with our Audiences


Jump to

  1. Jointly Run Votes


Votes can be used to provide entertainment, to raise money for charitable appeals or to help the audience register an opinion on topics ranging from light subjects to matters of public policy or politics.

In some cases the outcome of the vote may represent a life-changing opportunity for the winner or winning organisation, could be of interest to lobby groups, or could represent a potential commercial advantage.

All BBC votes must be honest, open, fair and legal, meeting the high editorial, ethical and technical standards that our audiences expect.

BBC votes 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 vote, including a mandatory approvals process.

(See Guidance: Audience Interactivity)

In particular:

  • The results must be accurately reported to the audience
  • We must be fair to anyone who is judged by an audience vote and must also fairly and accurately reflect the opinions of the voting audience
  • At all times we must take appropriate measures to protect the integrity of the vote and the result
  • We must not mislead the audience about the purpose of a vote
  • Very careful consideration should be given at the outset to whether a public vote is the most editorially appropriate method of deciding a result
  • We should ensure the robustness of the voting mechanism matches the vote's editorial significance. Particular care must be taken with the robustness and integrity of votes for competitive projects. A great deal may ride on the result for contestants
  • We must publish rules when running votes and issue contestants with rules governing their participation
  • The closing deadline for votes must be made clear to the audience, with sufficient time allowed between closing the vote and announcing the result to ensure that it can be verified
  • Careful planning must be carried out when setting up a vote, including contingency planning for both editorial and technical matters.
  • We should consider very carefully whether to announce running totals before broadcasting the final verified outcome.
  • Clear information must be given about when votes open and close
  • If contestants stand to win a significant prize or opportunity as the result of a public vote, referral must be made to Editorial Policy.

There is also additional detailed guidance for audience voting on matters of public policy, political or industrial controversy or any other 'controversial subject'[1].

(See Section 10: Politics, Public Policy and Polls: 10.4.42 - 10.4.46)

(See Guidance: Opinion Polls, Surveys, Questionnaires, Votes and Straw Polls)


Jointly Run Votes


In some cases it may be appropriate to mount a joint vote with a suitable outside organisation that is consistent with the BBC's values.  The BBC must be satisfied with the systems and procedures for running the vote and should usually be in direct control.

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

The BBC should not normally run BBC public service votes with a commercial organisation.


Copyright © 2015 BBC. 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.