Editorial Policy Newsletter

Created on 27 Jul 2011

Welcome to the New Monthly Newsletter

This is the first of a new series of the Editorial Policy Newsletter, following the introduction of the revised Editorial Guidelines. Each month you can read the latest regulatory developments, advice and Editorial Policy issues.

You should also have received  recently the first of the new series of another regular bulletin, What the Regulators Say, rounding up the latest adjudications on complaints to the BBC Trust, Editorial Complaints Unit and Ofcom.  Everyone on our subscribers’ list will get both.

Please forward them to your colleagues and encourage them to sign up for their own copies here.  You can see all our newsletters, including back issues, here.

New Editorial Guidelines Training Modules

Five new interactive Editorial Guidelines modules have been added to the twenty already on the BBC Academy’s training website.

There are two on reporting crime and anti-social behaviour, one on competitions, another on opinion polls and surveys, and a masterclass on creating partnerships with third parties.

Like the modules already available, they use real editorial and ethical conundrums that other programme makers and content producers have faced. Users can test their wits in short, interactive exercises that draw out the relevance of the Editorial Guidelines to everyday output and helps explain how they should be applied.

The training modules are not mandatory but managers are expected to get their staff to go through the relevant ones before they start work on new productions. Click here to see all the Editorial Guidelines Training Modules.

Working with Children

The new Editorial Policy Guidelines, published last October, change the age when we normally seek parental consent to involve children in our output to “Under 16”. But even when we get parental consent, there are many other considerations when working with children.

The July Editorial Policy Meeting discussed some of the most common issues: the steps to be taken with vulnerable young people; managing the expectations of children who interact or take part in our output; what you should do if you suspect a child or young person may be at risk; whether you can ever touch a child; and when you need a CRB check or a Local Education Authority licence for a child’s performance.

Editorial Policy guidance on Working with Children is available here. And there’s guidance for interacting with children online here.

Product Placement

Now product placement is legal on commercial television in the UK , Editorial Policy has published new guidance for BBC Licence Fee funded Services.

The BBC’s licence fee funded channels can’t make programmes using product placement, but some programmes it acquires from others may contain some placement.

Product placement is the inclusion of, or reference to, a product or service in return for a payment or consideration in kind. There are now detailed Ofcom rules and other regulatory requirements which the BBC must follow if we broadcast acquired programmes containing product placement. They’re covered in new Editorial Policy guidance here.


Props in Drama, Entertainment and Comedy

Acquiring props for drama, entertainment and comedy at reduced prices, or in exchange for a commitment they’ll be used or shown in a particular way runs the risk of being product placement.  New Editorial Policy guidance has been published which aims to advise on procuring props and avoiding any possibility of product placement.

Props should not normally be accepted free and no assurance should be given that they will be shown in a favourable light.  We also need to avoid product prominence and take great care over use of branded props.

Read the new guidance in full here.

Pictures from the Archives

A new label has been added to ELVIS, BBC Information & Archives' stills library, reminding content producers to think about any issues that may arise from re-use of the pictures.

Stills in the research archive are colour coded red, amber and green, but this relates only to the copyright position - it doesn’t mean that it will always be acceptable to use pictures coded green. The new notice on the front page (link to internal BBC site only) reminds producers to consider, in particular, any issues of fairness or privacy arising from the re-use of archive pictures.

Before using a still from ELVIS, it’s advisable to see if you can find any original compliance form, which will help you decide whether re-use of the image is appropriate in the proposed new context.

You can read the Editorial Guidelines on Re-use and Reversioning here. There is further guidance on the use of stills here.

Reporting Statistics

The future lies in analysing data according to the inventor of the World Wide Web Sir Tim Berners-Lee – and, as more and more data is released by government departments and organisations, journalists will be eager to mine it for stories.

But data carries risks as well as opportunities, particularly when it comes to understanding statistics. Members of Radio 4’s More or Less team joined a recent Editorial Policy Meeting and considered how to achieve the Guidelines’ requirement of due accuracy when reporting statistics - and that includes thinking about where they come from. Care is required to provide sufficient context, particularly when it might influence audience understanding of the significance of a statistic. We should resist giving figures more weight than can stand scrutiny and avoid confusing causation and correlation.

The Editorial Guidelines on reporting statistics are here.

You can find out more about reporting statistics, understanding graphs, context, correlation and causation, averages, surveys and samples in a 15 minute online module from the BBC Academy – one of the Editorial Guidelines training modules available here (go to Accuracy section).

Commercial Services Guidelines

A new section of the Editorial Guidelines has been produced for BBC Commercial Services, taking the place of the existing Editorial Guidelines Section 14 for all BBC commercial services operating in the UK and internationally, including BBC Worldwide services and commercial services run by BBC Global News.

When the current Section 14 of the Editorial Guidelines was published last Autumn, it explicitly stated that it would not apply to BBC Commercial Services, who would get their own version.

Now that new Ofcom rules on commercial matters are in place, the Guidelines have been finalised and are now in force.

You can read and print the new Guidelines here.

Editorial Policy Monthly Meeting

The next Editorial Policy Meeting is on Tuesday 13th September from 11.30am to 1.00pm in the Conference Centre, White City. It’s open to all BBC staff to come along and take part. The meeting will discuss revised guidance on Investigations and Secret Recording.

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