Section 4: Impartiality

Breadth and Diversity of Opinion

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  1. Due Weight
  2. Reporting the UK
  3. Impartiality and Audiences


Across our output as a whole, we must be inclusive, reflecting a breadth and diversity of opinion.  We must be fair and open-minded when examining the evidence and weighing material facts.  We must give due weight to the many and diverse areas of an argument.

Breadth and diversity of opinion may require not just a political and cultural range, but, on occasions, reflection of the variations between urban and rural, older and younger, poorer and wealthier, the innovative and the status quo, etc.  It may involve exploration of perspectives in different communities, interest groups and geographic areas.


Due Weight


Impartiality does not necessarily require the range of perspectives or opinions to be covered in equal proportions either across our output as a whole, or within a single programme, web page or item.  Instead, we should seek to achieve 'due weight'.  For example, minority views should not necessarily be given equal weight to the prevailing consensus.

Nevertheless, the omission of an important perspective, in a particular context, may jeopardise perceptions of the BBC's impartiality.  Decisions over whether to include or omit perspectives should be reasonable and carefully reached, with consistently applied editorial judgement across an appropriate range of output.

(See Section 4 Impartiality: 4.4.18)


Reporting the UK


We should also take account of the different political cultures and structures in different parts of the UK, for instance, in ensuring that differing main strands of argument in one or more of the nations receive due weight and prominence in UK-wide output.

(See Section 10 Politics, Public Policy and Polls: 10.4.1)

(See Guidance: Reporting the UK)


Impartiality and Audiences


Listening to and engaging with audiences is central to the BBC's output, from radio phone-ins to user generated content online.  But responses should not be given a wider significance than they merit and we should take care not to misrepresent the relative weight of opinions expressed.  We should also be prepared to apply appropriate scrutiny to audience opinions and ensure that the debate does not appear closed to members of the audience who support a minority view when they have not already made contact.

(See Guidance: User Contributions in News Output)


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