Last updated: October 2010
Editorial Guidelines Issues
This guidance note should be considered in conjunction with the following Editorial Guidelines:
See Editorial Guidelines Section 6 Fairness
See Editorial Guidelines Section 3 Accuracy
See Editorial Guidelines Section 7 Privacy: Doorstepping
Summary of Main Points
- Offering a right of reply to those who are the subject of significant criticism or allegations of wrongdoing is a fairness obligation under the Ofcom Broadcasting Code. It can also help achieve accuracy in our output by serving as fact-checking and informing the nature of our allegations.
- There is no prescribed format that a right of reply should take. For example - if it is fair to do so - we may offer an interview, request a written statement for inclusion fairly in the output or simply telephone the subject of the allegations, note their response and reflect it fairly in the relevant output.
- Respondents should be given enough information and detail about the arguments and allegations to understand them and give an informed response. So long as that is achieved, there is nor requirement to make copies of evidence available or to show the subject any secret filming.
- The amount of time that should be allowed for a response will change according to circumstances including the nature and complexity of the allegations, whether or not the allegations were already familiar to the subject of them, the nature of the subject and their resources, and whether there is a pressing need to broadcast in the public interest.
- To be fair, we should include material that is relevant to the allegations. It is not necessary to include material that may be considered irrelevant to the allegations. If we choose to paraphrase material rather than use direct quotes, the meaning must be fairly represented.
- The reply should normally be reflected in the same content as the allegations (for example, same programme, same edition of a series, or same website).