Press Office

Thursday 24 Apr 2014

Press Release

Revised BBC Editorial Guidelines published today

The latest revision of the BBC's Editorial Guidelines have been published today.

Written by the BBC Executive and approved by the BBC Trust they are available to programme makers and the public at bbc.co.uk/editorialguidelines, the Guidelines set out the standards expected of everyone making or presenting the BBC's output on TV on radio and online, and are reviewed every five years.

The revised Guidelines take into account the changes and developments that have occurred both within the BBC and the broadcasting industry since the last update in 2005, and reflect feedback from audiences following a public consultation by the BBC Trust. In addition the BBC Academy has launched a range of online, interactive learning modules to support the roll out of the new Editorial Guidelines. The modules will also be available to the wider public at bbcacademy.com/editorialstandards.

The new edition of the Editorial Guidelines:

  • For the first time clearly lays out the editorial policy principles which reflect the BBC's values and standards
  • Emphasises the importance of content producers using their own best judgement when making editorial decisions, in tandem with a new emphasis on the importance of taking advice from more senior people, and a requirement on those senior people to give help and support in making the right decisions
  • Introduces the concept of "due accuracy". This clarifies that accuracy is a consideration for all BBC output but its requirements vary. For example, the nature of accuracy required of drama and comedy may not be the same as for news and current affairs
  • Widens the application of the requirement for "due impartiality" to all output
  • Requires that potentially offensive material is judged against "Generally Accepted Standards" the term used in the BBC Agreement and the Ofcom Broadcasting Code

In addition, the Guidelines have been re-thought and restructured taking account of the lessons learned from some very serious editorial failings – over competitions, over intrusion and over misleading audiences. A section on Conflicts of Interest has been reinstated.

New technology and new media has also evolved hugely in the past five years and this edition of the Editorial Guidelines has now incorporated the Online Guidelines which were previously separate.

Mark Thompson, BBC Director General said today: "I want those making content for the BBC, be it on television, radio or online to use their own best judgement. The Editorial Guidelines are there to enable programme makers to make those judgements and ensure that our output meets the high standards of quality and creativity audiences expect of the BBC."

David Jordan, Director BBC Editorial Policy and Standards, said: "The Editorial Guidelines are there to help programme-makers create brilliant content. The high standards that are expected of BBC output is absolutely clear and these Guidelines can ensure that we continue delivering impartial journalism, edgy comedy, thrilling dramas and all the content we know the BBC is uniquely placed to make consistent with the BBC’s enduring editorial values."

Notes to Editors

The BBC Executive reviews its Editorial Guidelines every five years. The last edition was published in 2005. The BBC Trust are responsible for commissioning the Guidelines for the first time as stipulated in the Agreement to the BBC's Royal Charter 2006.

The revised Editorial Guidelines come in to effect at 00.01 on Monday 18 October.

Training modules can be accessed at bbcacademy.com/editorialstandards or via Gateway for BBC staff.

The BBC Academy, launched in December 2009, is the BBC's centre for training. It houses the Colleges of Journalism, Production, Leadership and the Centre of Technology. The BBC Academy aims to put training and development at the heart of broadcasting by equipping both BBC staff and the wider industry with the skills they need for a lifetime of employability in an ever-changing media landscape.

The BBC Academy modules have been made by Epic.

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