Section 2: Using the Guidelines

Roles and Responsibilities

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  1. Editorial Responsibility
  2. Content Producers and their Managers
  3. Referrals
  4. Editorial Policy
  5. Editorial Compliance

Editorial Responsibility


Editorial responsibility in the BBC rests with the editorial chain of management from programme or content producer, whether in-house or independent, through to divisional director, and to the BBC's Director-General, who is the editor-in-chief. 

Content Producers and their Managers


Knowledge of the Guidelines is an essential professional skill, and everyone who makes the BBC's content is contractually required to familiarise themselves with them and work within them. 


When applying the Guidelines, individual content producers are expected to make the necessary judgements in many areas, but some issues require careful consideration at a higher level.  The Guidelines therefore advise, and sometimes require, reference to more senior editorial figures, Editorial Policy or experts elsewhere in the BBC such as Programme Legal Advice. 


Editors and managers must be prepared to discuss areas of concern and be ready to offer guidance.  They must support producers and other staff in the editorial management of their content, including the effective supervision of on-air talent.



Referrals lie at the heart of the BBC's editorial process and are a source of its strength.  No one involved in the making or presenting of our output should hesitate to refer editorial dilemmas. 

The more important or contentious the issue, the higher the referral needs to be.  It is your responsibility to be aware of who you should refer to in your Division. 


The Editorial Guidelines specify a number of Mandatory Referrals.  These may be to senior editorial figures within the output division, Editorial Policy or, on occasion, other areas of the BBC. 

Mandatory Referrals are part of the BBC's editorial management system.  While they will not, in themselves, meet the Principles in the Editorial Guidelines, they are an essential part of the process to ensure compliance and must be observed. 

The Mandatory Referrals are summarised at the start of each section of the Guidelines.  However, they must be read in the context of the relevant cross-referenced Practices to be fully understood.


In the Nations and the English Regions the relevant director or controller must be informed of any issue that is a Mandatory Referral to Director Editorial Policy and Standards.


On occasion, the Editorial Guidelines suggest or require a referral to an internal BBC resource that independent producers are unable to access.  In such cases, independents should normally refer to the commissioning editor.


Any significant breach of the editorial standards in the Guidelines, such as unforeseen events in a live broadcast, should be referred promptly to an appropriate senior editorial figure.

Editorial Policy


The Editorial Policy team, led by Director Editorial Policy and Standards, gives advice on how to work within the Guidelines at every stage of the production process of every type of content.  The earlier potentially contentious content is referred the better.  Advice is available 24 hours a day.

Editorial Policy is also responsible for writing these Editorial Guidelines, and other guidance designed to ensure BBC content is made to the highest editorial standards.  In addition to the Referrals specified in each section, Editorial Policy should normally be consulted on queries on how to interpret or apply the Editorial Guidelines. 

Editorial Compliance


Compliance responsibility in the BBC lies in output teams, together with editorial responsibility.  The Editorial Guidelines, referrals and advice from Editorial Policy can inform the judgements that are essential to the editorial compliance of BBC output.  Legal advice may also be necessary.

(See Section 2 Using the Guidelines: 2.6.1 - 2.6.3)

It is a fundamental requirement of the compulsory compliance process that all pre-recorded content must be watched or listened to in full by the producer and a senior editorial figure prior to broadcast.  No pre-recorded programme may be broadcast without a completed compliance form, or equivalent.  Only a limited number of exceptions are allowable, and must be cleared in advance by the relevant divisional director.

Advice on the compliance process is available from the heads of Editorial Standards and/or compliance managers in each output division.

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