In some cases, the BBC may decide to set up its own awards, to recognise the achievements or talents of members of the public or a specialist group such as writers, musicians or sport stars. BBC Awards may sometimes be run in conjunction with a suitable outside organisation.


BBC Awards will inevitably give a BBC stamp of approval for the achievements of individuals and/or third party organisations. As such they should only be set up to serve a serious purpose. We should not offer awards if we do not intend the recipient to be able to make reference to the award in public. Consideration should be given at a senior level to ensure that the proposal to set up a BBC award is editorially acceptable.


All BBC Awards must comply with the BBC Code of Conduct or Competitions and Votes.


This section provides detailed editorial advice about how to run a BBC award. It outlines the new BBC referrals and compliance process for use of telephony. In all cases where an award involves a public vote using telephony and/or a combination of online voting and telephony you will need technical, legal and contracts advice from the Interactive Technical Advice and Contracts Unit (ITACU): (Link only available to internal BBC users)


The following principles apply to all BBC awards:


  • Any proposal to set up a BBC award must be referred to Editorial Policy and a Senior Manager at the planning stages;
  • There should be clear, published rules, which have been agreed with Programme Legal Advice;
  • Criteria for judging or nominations must be transparent, clear, fair and consistent;
  • Winners and runners up must have clear written guidance as to how they may make reference to the award once the result has been published by the BBC; it should be clear in the terms and conditions that failure to comply could result in disqualification or the award being rescinded;
  • If an award is to be decided totally or in part via a public vote then appropriate efforts should be made to ensure the voting mechanism used should be robust


If the award is to be run in partnerships with an outside organisation then:


  • Our choice of partner and the editorial nature of the awards proposed must be appropriate and should not bring the BBC into disrepute;
  • The BBC's editorial impartiality and integrity must not be compromised and the BBC must retain editorial control;
  • We should work with a range of partners and not unduly favour one above another


If the award involves a bursary or a prize funded by an outside organisation, this must be approved by Editorial Policy and the BBC Regulatory lawyers.


If there is any proposal to sponsor the awards ceremony, this must be referred at the earliest stage to Chief Adviser Editorial Policy. Sponsorship by commercial organisations is not permitted for BBC Awards.


Everyone who runs a BBC award must read the summary advice at the start of this Part to ensure they have complied with the requirements of this guidance.


1. Permissions and Referrals

Before you may run an award you must complete the Awards approval form and submit to the Controller or equivalent Senior Manager in your division for authorisation.


Awards may be complex to set up and may require advice from several specialist areas of the BBC including Editorial Policy, Programme Legal Advice, Marketing and Communications, Fair Trading, and Business Affairs. If the award involves any use of telephony then technical and contracts advice must be sought form ITACU.


Therefore any proposals to set up a BBC award must be referred at an early stage to Editorial Policy, who will advise on which other department may need to be consulted, depending on the nature of the proposal and help coordinate this advice.


The relevant Senior Manager must also be consulted.


2. How to Set Up and Run BBC Awards

Awards may be decided by way of a panel, a public vote or a combination of the two.

An appropriate editorial figure must oversee and be responsible for the running of the award. A BBC award cannot be set up at the last minute


3. Judging a BBC Award

3.1 Terms and Conditions

Awards can only be judged fairly, either by the public or a panel, if clear criteria are established at the outset. These must be outlined in the terms and conditions so that entrants, nominators and judges are all clear as to the purpose of the award and how it is to be decided.


If there is to be a public vote then clear terms and conditions for voting must be published; see also Part C: Voting.


3.2 Panels

In many cases it will be appropriate to use a panel to judge entries. The judging system should normally be clearly explained to the audience and must be explained to entrants via on-air/ online announcements and the terms and conditions. The panel should normally include, or be overseen, by a BBC representative to ensure that the BBC remains in editorial control of the running of all of its awards at all stages. Panellists must be issued with the criteria for judging. They must confirm, in writing, that they have no conflicts of interest; for example they should not normally have any close personal or commercial connection with entrants.


If it emerges that there is a conflict, once the award judging process has commenced, then the panel member should withdraw. Programme Legal Advice and the senior editorial figure responsible for overseeing the running of the award must be consulted; advice may also be sought form Editorial Policy. It might be might be necessary to restart judging.


3.3 Nominations

Sometimes the awards process may take several stages: nominations may be drawn via public nominations or via a panel; a shortlist may be decided by a vote or a panel or a combination of the two.


We must apply clear criteria at all stages.


4. Jointly Run Awards with Third Parties

Further advice should be sought from the BBC Editorial Guidelines Section 16 External Relationships and Funding


Any proposal for a jointly run award must be referred at an early stage to Editorial Policy.


The BBC may decide to mount a competitive award with a suitable organisation such as academic, educational or artistic institutions or charitable foundations: for example, the BBC Short Story Award, which is run with the Book Trust and the Book Trust for Scotland.


In some cases our awards may be made up of a number of categories and different partners may help decide individual categories.


The choice of partner for a joint award must be appropriate and editorially justifiable;   care must be taken not to promote the partner. All on-air and online references  should be editorially justifiable. Even though the award may be jointly organised, the  BBC must retain overall editorial control. The partner may not decide the winner. In some cases, such as The Brits, BBC audiences may have the opportunity to vote in a third party organised award (see section 5 below).


We do not normally mount awards with commercial organisations. However, it may be possible:


  • To run a competitive award with a publication or other media organisation for a joint award for skills associated with broadcasting such as journalism, music, writing or drama or other BBC initiative;
  • For local radio stations to join with a regional publication to organise and present a local award.


When organising an award with a media organisation or publication, it is important that our choice of partner is editorially justifiable and that we take care not to promote the partner on-air.


Nominations and/or voting may be via the BBC and the publication or media organisation, but BBC licence fee funded services may only publicise entry via the BBC. It is essential that no-one is required to buy a publication in order to be entered for a BBC award or make a nomination.


Normally the BBC will not incorporate the third party name into the title of the award.

Any proposed exception must be referred to Editorial Policy. It will never do so in the case of a commercial organisation.


A contract or agreement will need to be drawn up between the BBC and the outside organisation, which must set out clearly lines of responsibility; Business Affairs must be consulted.


A third party may do the following:


  • Provide Specialist expertise for the judging panel;
  • Help run and publicise the awards;
  • Provide or run facilities for shortlisted candidates - such as workshops;
  • Provide part of the overall prize - e.g. a grant or bursary, performance opportunity, publication of a winner's work


4.1 Bursaries for BBC Awards

N.B further guidance in this area is to be published shortly, in the interim any proposals involving third party sponsorship or funding of BBC awards must be referred to Chief Adviser, Editorial Policy

The BBC sometimes mounts special award ceremonies at outside venues for some of the key awards offered by the BBC such as Young Musician of the Year or the Radio 3 World Music Awards. In some cases in order to defray the costs to the licence fee payer it may be acceptable to supplement the cost of mounting a public event by sponsorship from a non-commercial body.


The money from the sponsor may only be used for the costs of mounting the event.

No sponsorship money may be used for any broadcast costs. Accounts must show clear separation between event costs and broadcasting costs.


The sponsor must not be involved in any way with the running of the awards or in any decisions as to who receives awards. An individual award at the ceremony may also be sponsored, but again the sponsor will have no say over who wins the award.


In some cases it may be acceptable for a non-commercial sponsor to fund an award which might take the form of a grant or bursary for the overall winner or winners of a specific BBC award. Winners may apply for such a bursary after they have won their award. The BBC must be in charge of the process of awarding these bursaries against published criteria.


Bursaries are only offered for clear public service reasons to enable the recipients to undertake suitable activities such as service to the community or artistic or musical studies.


Legal advice must be sought over the terms and administration of a bursary.


Any proposal for sponsorship of a BBC Public Service Award or Awards event must be referred at the earliest stage to Chief Adviser Editorial Policy.


5. Third Party Awards Including BBC Audience Participation

In rare circumstances it may be acceptable for BBC programmes or BBC channels to accept the opportunity for our audiences to vote in an award or set of awards mounted by a third party e.g. a specific category in The Brits, or the Baftas.


Great care must be taken to ensure that such an association does not bring the BBC into disrepute. It is not acceptable for BBC programmes, services and channels simply to lend their names to third party awards without sufficient editorial involvement: we must not "brand slap".


All such proposals must be referred at an early stage to the relevant Controller or equivalent Senior Manager and to Editorial Policy.


6. Verification

BBC Awards are only mounted for a serious purpose and we normally expect them to have a resonance beyond the associated broadcast. They may have a direct impact on the winner and runners up. It is imperative that the award has been run in a robust manner, and it may be important to be able to demonstrate this.


In some cases it may be appropriate to consider putting in place a system of independent verification of the process and final result. For example, some programmes may wish to use an independent solicitor or accountant or suitable verification body. In other cases where there is a judging panel it might be important to ensure the Chair is independent of the BBC and/or any partner organisation. Editorial Policy will advise whether external verification is required and will liaise with ITACU to procure a suitable verifier.


7. Use of a BBC Award by Winners and/or Runners Up

It is likely that winners and in some cases, finalists/runners up, may wish to refer to the fact they have won or been considered for a BBC Award. We must ensure there is clear information for winners and nominees as to how the award may be referenced.


This information should be issued to all entrants at an appropriate stage. Adherence to these must form part of the terms and conditions. We must ensure that the terms and condition include the right to withdraw the award at any stage if it transpires that winners have broken them or if their subsequent behaviour could bring the BBC into disrepute.


In may be advisable to put together a "winner's pack" of BBC material which may be used by winners, with accompanying conditions. This could consist of any of the following depending on the nature of the award, subject to relevant clearances, and in accordance with the BBC Fair Trading Guidelines:


  • An award logo;
  • Relevant short clips and or stills of their entry or appropriate short extracts of the programme such as the announcement of the result;
  • A form of words to describe their success in the awards as agreed by the BBC;
  • Possibly a BBC quote;
  • A certificate, which may be displayed;
  • A link back to the BBC site to explain the background to the awards and how the end result was arrived at;
  • In certain very limited cases they may be able to reference the award on specific product such as stickers on books or CDs. However, any such agreements MUST be referred to Editorial Policy who will consult with Fair Trading: a separate trade mark licence may need to be issued


Winners will not be allowed to use any elements of the winning pack or refer to the BBC or its programmes and services:


  • In commercial advertising or promotions;
  • In order to attract external funding;
  • To lobby or campaign;
  • To attract donations


Each case will vary and Editorial Policy, Business Affairs and in some cases Fair Trading must be consulted.


8. BBC Awards Mounted in Conjunction with BBC Publications

There are particular issues here and any such proposals must be referred to Chief Adviser Editorial Policy at the earliest stages.


9. Documentation

Appropriate records must be kept by the appropriate editorial figure responsible for overseeing the running of the award, and the telephone service provider where relevant; in order to demonstrate the BBC awards have been run fairly, appropriately, in accordance with the BBC Guidelines, and the terms and conditions.


If the award is decided in whole or part via a public vote involving telephony then a copy of all relevant documentation must also be sent to ITACU.




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