Section 10: Politics, Public Policy and Polls
Political Interviews and Contributions
We should be clear when making requests for political interviews about the nature of the programme and the context for which they are intended. Our arrangements must stand up to public scrutiny and must not prevent the programme asking questions that our audiences would reasonably expect to hear.
We must take care when inviting politicians to contribute to non-political output, whether on the basis of their expertise outside politics or of their celebrity. We must not give them such prominence as to gain undue advantage over their opponents. Where their political allegiance is relevant to their contribution, it should be clear to the audience.
Any proposal to invite a politician to be a guest on a programme or area of content where to do so is the exception rather than the rule, must be referred to Chief Adviser Politics.
Interviews with or Profiles of Party Leaders
Except for brief news interviews, gathered on the day without pre-arrangement, any proposal to interview or profile any of the main party leaders in the UK must be referred in advance to Chief Adviser Politics. Similarly, offers of interviews from the parties must be referred before they can be accepted. For BBC Scotland, BBC Wales or BBC Northern Ireland, referral in advance should also be made to the Head of News and Current Affairs in the respective nation.
Chief Adviser Politics (and, where appropriate, the relevant Head of News and Current Affairs) should also be told whether the invitations are refused or accepted to ensure:
- the BBC as a whole is robust and consistent in its dealings with the party leaders
- at all times of high demand for one or more party leaders, bids are rationalised within the BBC
- due weight is given to appearances by all party leaders over time.
Payment to MPs
We should not normally pay MPs, or others clearly identified as representing political parties, for appearances or other contributions to any BBC output in which they are speaking as a member of their party or expressing political views. They can, where appropriate, be paid a limited and realistic disturbance fee and/or any reimbursement for genuine expenses.
They may be paid for contributions to non-political output, where they are appearing on the basis of their expertise outside politics or of their celebrity, and are not taking part as a member of their party or expressing political views.
Active politicians should not normally be paid for an appearance on, or contribution to, BBC News output. The extent to which a contributor is considered an active politician may be influenced in each case by a combination of factors including, for example, the type of programme or other content, the nature of the contribution, the contributor's political activity or the capacity in which they appear. Further advice should be sought from Chief Adviser Politics.