Last updated: October 2010
Editorial Guidelines Issues
This guidance note should be considered in conjunction with the following Editorial Guidelines:
- Impartiality and Diversity of Opinion
- Harm and Offence
- Re-use and Reversioning
- Editorial Integrity and Independence
- External Relationships and Funding
Summary of Main Points
- All links on the BBC public service site or on the editorial pages of a commercial site must be editorially justifiable
- When audiences use BBC Online, they need to be confident that our decisions on links and feeds are influenced neither by political or commercial pressures, nor by any personal interests
- Whenever producers are creating content on a BBC site, they should actively consider which external websites it may be editorially justifiable to link to
- A link must never be included on the public service site or within the editorial content of a commercial site in return for cash, services or any other consideration in kind.
- An external site which is a candidate for a link should, generally, be relevant to the BBC content from which a link is envisaged; meet the needs of a UK-based audience; meet the expectations of the likely audience; be regularly reviewed and refreshed; and normally be free to access.
- The producer must check the contents of the external site before adding a link to a BBC page. The relevant Interactive Executive Editor should review the suitability for retaining these links as appropriate.
- We should do nothing to "own" or support the message, information or promotions on outside sites.
- In order to maintain impartiality, BBC sites which cover matters of controversy or public policy may offer links to external sites which, taken together, represent a reasonable range of views about the subject.
- For programme support pages, an external link should be justified by the relevance and value of the material to the programme's viewers and listeners.
- When linking to any commercial site, great care must be taken to avoid giving the impression that the BBC is unfairly endorsing a commercial product or service.
- Links or navigation buttons from individual pages on the public service site to the BBC's commercial sites are acceptable only when clearly editorially justified.
- It is likely to be editorially justifiable to link directly to the source of tickets if the event for which the tickets are being sold is a BBC Event. If not, a link to eg the band's own site would be editorially justifiable, from where a user can click to the ticket agency's site.
- Before offering automatically generated links to external sites from BBC content, a number of factors should be considered, including the genre of editorial content, the ability to select from appropriate recognised and reputable sources and how to remove links from specific stories quickly
- Pulling third party feeds onto BBC Online pages may be more editorially sensitive than linking externally, because users are more likely to expect the feeds to have been through a rigorous editorial examination and to comply with BBC editorial standards.
- Feeds and embeds require the approval of the relevant Interactive Executive.
- The person responsible for the page on which a feed or embed appears will be responsible for the content from that feed or embed.
- They will have to decide what level of editorial monitoring is appropriate and whether they have the necessary resources to carry it out.
- When we take in content from an external supplier, we should be transparent about this with our users.
- If one supplier is known to favour or advocate a particular view or position, we should normally take care to offer a reasonable range of views from different suppliers at the same time.
- We should be clear about what our users can do and where they should go if they see a mistake or find something offensive.
- It should be clear to a casual user that an inbound embed (for example, of video from a social networking site) is not under the editorial control of the BBC and is not primarily the responsibility of the BBC. But we are responsible for deciding what non-BBC content to embed on BBC pages and we should be alert to the possibility of the original content being changed or removed and to rights issues.