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16 October 2014
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Editorial Integrity & Independence

Programme support material for independent productions & co-productions

Independent producers now retain ownership of rights in the television programmes they create for the BBC. The BBC takes a 5 year exclusive licence to use these programmes on its licence fee funded services. .

The BBC still controls programme promotion and publicity, including the right to make trails, and must be consulted about the independent producer's promotional activities in the UK throughout the licence period. But as the programmes are now owned by the independents, the creation of any support materials for the programmes, including website content on, must be carefully thought through and agreed with the independent producer in writing, preferably at the development stage and before the programme production agreement is signed.

Where a programme commission from an independent producer also includes the creation of a programme support site on

  • it will generally be appropriate to allow the independent producer to include their logo on a credits page for the site. The use of the independent producer's logo must be compatible with the BBC Credit and Branding Guidelines at Where the BBC creates the programme support site, the independent producer should normally be credited e.g. "the title ["Name of Programme"] is based on a programme made by [the Producer] for the BBC". Where programme content is used, it may also be appropriate to add e.g. "images and stories from [Programme Name] are copyright of [the Producer]".

In addition, the independent producer will have:

  • the right to feature limited footage from the programme on their own or their distributor's web site but only for the purpose of promotion and publicity. The footage may be up to three minutes long in total and may be published for up to six months. No other use of programme clips is permitted online without BBC consent
  • the right to exercise "Commercial Website Rights". This means that, seven days after the first transmission of the programme by the BBC, the independent producer may publish a commercial website based on the format of the programme, although the site may not use the programme itself, with the limited exception above. Publication will be subject to BBC approval .The site must be editorially acceptable to the BBC and comply with all relevant BBC guidelines
  • the right seven days after the BBC transmission of the programme to authorise the downloading, viewing and storage of the programme ( in the same way that the independent producer might sell the DVD in the shops) . But the BBC has to consent to any Video-on-Demand use during the Licence period.

Any link from a BBC website to the independent producer's or co-producer's site should be editorially justified. There should be no direct link to any page or section on the site which promotes or sells any services, goods or merchandise.

The BBC can make no promise or contractual commitment to establish, or maintain, a link from the BBC site to an independent producer or co-producer's site.

Co-producers, independent producers, broadcasters and distributors who have rights for transmission outside the UK may put publicity or support material on their own site to support or publicise the programmes and transmissions.

More detailed advice is available from Head of Legal and Business Affairs, New Media and Technology.

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