Guidelines

Section 6: Fairness, Contributors and Consent

Deception

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  1. News and Factual Output
  2. Comedy and Entertainment Output
  3. Online
  4. Working Abroad
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News and Factual Output

6.4.17

6.4.17 In news and factual output, where there is a clear public interest, it may occasionally be acceptable for us not to reveal the full purpose of the output to a contributor.  Such deception is only likely to be acceptable when the material could not be obtained by any other means.  It should be the minimum necessary and in proportion to the subject matter.

Any proposal to deceive a contributor to news or factual output must be referred to a senior editorial figure or, for independents, to the commissioning editor.  Editorial Policy, or in the most serious cases Director Editorial Policy and Standards, must also be consulted.

(See Section 8 Reporting Crime and Anti-Social Behaviour: 8.4.15 - 8.4.19 and 8.4.40 - 8.4.47)

 

 

Comedy and Entertainment Output

6.4.18

If deception is to be used for comedy or entertainment purposes, such as a humorous 'wind-up', the material should normally be pre-recorded and consent must be gained prior to broadcast from any member of the public or the organisation to be featured identifiably.  If they are not identifiable, consent will not normally be required prior to broadcast unless the material was secretly recorded or is likely to result in unjustified public ridicule or personal distress.

The deception should not be designed to humiliate and we should take care not to distress or embarrass those involved.  We may need to consult with friends or family to assess the risks in advance of recording.

(See Section 5 Harm and Offence: 5.4.32 and Section 7 Privacy: 7.4.17 - 7.4.20)

 

6.4.19

Deceptions for comedy or entertainment purposes involving those in the public eye will not normally require consent prior to broadcast unless the material was secretly recorded or is likely to result in unjustified public ridicule or personal distress.

6.4.20

Any proposal to deceive a contributor for comedy and entertainment purposes, whether or not they are in the public eye, must be referred to a senior editorial figure, or for independents to the commissioning editor, who may consult Editorial Policy.

Online

6.4.21

On rare occasions, where strictly proportionate and editorially justifiable, it may be appropriate for the BBC to operate a website which appears to have no connection with the BBC.

For example, we might do this as part of an extended online game where clues are hidden on third party sites for players from BBC Online to discover.  In such cases, we must ensure that non-participants who come across such a site can find out its real purpose quickly and easily.

In the case of websites created for an investigation, we must ensure that there is no significant detriment to those who discover the website but are not the subject of the investigation.

Any proposal to create a website which appears to have no connection with the BBC must be referred to a senior editorial figure and Editorial Policy.

 

6.4.22

Anyone actively intervening to steer the course of an online discussion for a BBC purpose, without revealing their link to the BBC, must be acting in the public interest and must refer to a senior editorial figure or, for independents, to the commissioning editor.  In the most serious cases,  referral must also be made to Director Editorial Policy and Standards.

 

 

Working Abroad

6.4.23

We should normally be open about our intentions when entering countries to work.

Any proposal to use a tourist visa to avoid visa restrictions when working for the BBC in that country, or any other proposal to enter a country illegally, must be referred to a senior editorial figure, or for independents to the commissioning editor, who may consult Director Editorial Policy and Standards.

When use of a tourist visa in this way, or any other illegal entry of a country, is approved, Newsgathering and the Head of the relevant World Service region should also be informed.  It may also be advisable to contact Programme Legal Advice before travelling.

(See Section 18 The Law: 18.3.1)

 

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