Section 13: Re-Use and Reversioning

Requests for BBC Material from Third Parties

Jump to

  1. Transmitted Material
  2. Untransmitted Material

This section of the Editorial Guidelines, 13.4.22 to 13.4.27, does not apply to statutory requirements to produce material, for example to Ofcom


Transmitted Material

(Requests for material that has previously been broadcast or otherwise publicly distributed by the BBC.)




All requests for transmitted material in connection with court proceedings, or other procedures which may regard the material as evidence (such as disciplinary hearings by regulatory bodies), must be referred to Programme Legal Advice and Editorial Policy.




As far as other requests for such material are concerned we will:

  • take due account of any copyright, legal, contractual and editorial implications
  • normally charge a fee which realistically reflects the cost or practical difficulties of providing the material
  • normally require a written agreement that the material will be used for purposes that maintain the integrity of the material and the BBC.



Untransmitted Material


Requests from third parties for access to unused material, such as notes, unedited video ("rushes") or audio recordings, should normally be referred to Director Editorial Policy and Standards.

(See Section 13 Re-use and Reversioning: 13.4.27)




Any proposal to give a contributor's personal details, comments or other personal information to a third party without the contributor's consent should be referred to a senior editorial figure, or for independents to the commissioning editor, who may wish to consult Information Policy and Compliance and Programme Legal Advice.

(See Section 7 Privacy: 7.4.45 - 7.4.50)




We never voluntarily allow access to unused material:

  • when to do so would endanger people who work for the BBC
  • when it would make it more difficult to gather such material in the future
  • if the requests appear to be "fishing" for evidence
  • if the material contains information that identifies a confidential source or contributor
  • when it conflicts with our contractual obligations
  • when the rights of third parties may be impaired by handing it over.

The BBC's editorial integrity could also be damaged if other organisations and individuals are allowed access to untransmitted material for their own use.  For example, we do not normally release untransmitted material to organisations for public relations, marketing or commercial purposes.




All requests for untransmitted or otherwise unused material, including notes, by the police and/or in connection with court proceedings, possible court proceedings or other procedures which may regard the material as evidence (such as disciplinary hearings by regulatory bodies), must be referred to Programme Legal Advice and Director Editorial Policy and Standards.

The BBC will not normally hand over unused material in such circumstances, including to the police, without a court order.  Sometimes it is appropriate to accede to such an order, at other times it will be necessary to contest it and appeal it to higher courts.

The police make a significant number of requests for untransmitted material.  In England, Wales and Northern Ireland they use PACE Orders (under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984) to require the release of material for use as evidence.  In Scotland, a warrant for material may be granted by a Sheriff, or the Lord Advocate can seek to recover such material by petition or order.

There is no legal obligation for us to keep documents, records or unused material unless and until they are the subject of a request from the police or the courts or there is a realistic threat of litigation.



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