User Contributions in News Output


In this article

  1. Editorial Guidelines Issues
  2. Summary of Main Points

Last updated: October 2010


Editorial Guidelines Issues

This guidance note should be considered in conjunction with the following BBC Editorial Guidelines:

  • Accuracy

See Editorial Guidelines Section 3: Accuracy

  • Privacy

See Editorial Guidelines Section 7 Privacy: Personal Information

  • The Law

See Editorial Guidelines Section 18 The Law: Date Protection Act

This guidance note covers use of content sent to the BBC for inclusion in news output. For advice on using images from third party sites see the Guidance Note on Use of Pictures from Social Media and Third Party Websites.


Summary of Main Points


  • It is vital that we do not encourage our audiences to risk their personal safety or that of others, in order to gather material for submission to the BBC.
  • Consideration should be given to whether identifying a contributor could put them at risk. In some instances it may put lives in danger if a contributor's identity is revealed.
  • We should not encourage people to break the law to supply us with material.
  • If we become aware of any incident of suspected 'grooming' online, we must refer it promptly to the CBBC Interactive Executive Management Team (or, for Commercial Services, to the relevant editorial leader) who will report it to the appropriate authorities.
  • We must be particularly careful about the amount of information we disclose about children and young people, in order not to put them at risk.
  • Privacy decisions over which images to use on air or online will be governed by the same editorial principles as those we employ with our own footage.
  • For newsgathering and breaking news, we will use our usual editorial judgement to decide whether further consents may be needed in order to publish this material. We would normally expect to have the consent of a parent or guardian before using interviews or close up/clearly identifiable shots of someone under 16.
  • We should not automatically assume that the material is accurate and should take reasonable steps where necessary to seek verification.
  • We should ensure that material from members of the public is clearly labelled, so that our audiences know it has not come from the BBC or another news organisation.
  • All requests for transmitted material in connection with court proceedings, or other procedures which may regard the material as evidence must be referred to Programme Legal Advice and Editorial Policy.
  • All requests from third parties for access to unused material, should normally be referred to Director Editorial Policy and Standards. In addition all requests for untransmitted or otherwise unused material, including notes, by the police and/or in connection with court proceedings, possible court proceedings or other procedures which may regard the material as evidence must be referred to Programme Legal Advice and Director,Editorial Policy and Standards.
  • If requests for material, made by the police or other state authorities or on behalf of any party to civil litigation, make reference to any laws, the matter should be passed on to Litigation and Director  Editorial Policy and Standards.


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