Policies and guidelines
Under the terms of the Programme production agreement (PPA) all programmes made for BBC Television must comply with a number of BBC guidelines and policies. Ensure production staff are using the current versions as procedures can change.
Further general policy information can be found on the About the BBC website.
The BBC and Pact have issued guidance for independent production companies negotiating access arrangements
PACT Members can download a template Access agreement from the Pact website.
The BBC's Anti-bribery high level principles and guidelines for independent production companies sets out its commitment to upholding all laws relevant to countering bribery and corruption and provides information and guidance on how to recognise and deal with these issues.
The BBC also has downloadable Editorial guidelines for programme which includes audience interaction (PDF).
BBC's Interactive Technical Advice and Contracts Unit (ITACU) can advise production teams on the best practice and use of telephone numbers, email addresses and voting services being used to gain interactivity from the public and will discuss this with production teams, to ensure validation and vote integrity if relevant. ITACU are also happy to suggest information, not advice, about other aspects of user interactivity.
If you require further advice, your BBC Executive Producer or Commissioning Editor will be able to refer your questions to the appropriate editorial policy advisor for further guidance and advice.
Please note that Phone-paid Services Authority have a registration scheme which is mandatory for anyone promoting premium rate services. Independent production companies will need to register in their own right if they promote premium rate numbers outside BBC media (e.g. printed media).
For further information about using audiences in BBC programmes please see the Production resources page.
The BBC's credit policy balances its desire to reflect significant creative contributions with the reality that lengthy credits make viewers switch over or switch off. Visit the Credits and branding page for full details. In addition, the following policies apply:
Please visit the Credits and branding page for the BBCs Third party brand and design commercial guidelines.
Please visit the Credits and branding page to download the Talent as executive producer policy.
See the Credits and branding page to download the Independent producer joint promotion guidelines.
Everyone directly interacting with children on behalf of the BBC must comply with the Child protection policy and Code of conduct.
Download the BBC Content compliance policy from the compliance for TV and online page.
This covers areas such as:
- The clarification of sign off arrangements
- Compliance form exceptions including for late deliveries
- The mandatory procedure for referable language
- iPlayer revocation process
- Process for repeats
- Arrangements for live programming
Find out more on the compliance for television and online page.
Independent production companies are responsible for ensuring they manage and protect personal data properly and in accordance with legislation. This is a requirement under the standard Programme production agreement and is in accordance with the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA).
The approved security guidance documents should be used by all production teams making content for BBC Television.
(Pre 2018 versions of the data protection guidelines can be downloaded from the A - Z page.) Where an independent production company is working in the capacity of Data Processor this guidance constitutes written instructions from the BBC as required under the legislation. If the BBC is acting in the capacity as Data Processor and the independent production company is the Data Controller, the BBC will take these guidelines as its written instructions unless directed otherwise in writing by the Data Controller.
The guidelines are the minimum standards the BBC expects for best working practise.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is the UK’s independent authority set up to uphold information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.
Data from the current P4A system will be migrated into the online production reporting system Silvermouse. Both migrated data and data newly entered into Silvermouse will in some cases include limited amounts of contributors’ personal data. This is required for the purposes of rights management and royalty payments for future exploitation. Personal details will only be shared with third parties or the BBC group for this purpose and related activities, and to fulfil statutory and regulatory obligations. If you have any queries about personal data on Silvermouse please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Please see the Delivery timeline for all delivery requirements.
The Digital release policy outlines how independent producers may use programme extracts to help extend programme brands online for both promotional and commercial purposes in the UK. In addition it offers some guidelines for the management of infringing copies through YouTube Content ID software.
All BBC programmes and content must comply with the BBC's policies and guidelines.
Visit the Editorial guidelines website for full information.
See the BBC Future Media Standards and Guidelines for the delivery of web material.
During production it is an independent production companies responsibility to work in accordance with the BBC Editorial guidelines.
Independent production companies have access to Editorial Policy teams and to the BBC Programme Legal Advice team but in the first instance referrals should be made through the BBC executive producer. The BBC executive producer is the BBC’s editorial safeguard and the final judgement about what is and is not permissible rests with them. It is the independent production companies responsibility to inform the BBC executive producer of any new risks or issues that could affect the reputation of the BBC.
For any queries please contact the relevant commissioning executive in the first instance, who will be able to refer the question to the appropriate editorial policy advisor. See the TV contacts page for details of how to contact the BBC Editorial Policy team.
Please ensure accessibility guidelines are followed. Find out more about accessibility from an audience perspective on the BBC My Way My Web site.
There are a number of resources to help programme makers understand BBC editorial values:
Welcome to the BBC - editorial values course
Independent production companies and freelance content producers are advised to attend the BBC Editorial Values two hour face-to face course 'Welcome to the BBC – Editorial Values'. This replaces the previous Safeguarding Trust online training course. It is not mandatory for independent production companies to attend the course but it is highly recommended to all those making content for the BBC. The course will be mandatory for new joiners to in-house BBC production teams.
The session is free of charge to independent production companies and freelancers. It is open to all but it is recommended that those who have not completed the Safeguarding Trust course should be prioritised.
To book a place on one of these sessions or discuss dates and locations email email@example.com or call the team on 07711 349 252.
BBC editorial standards online courses
In addition to the face-to-face 'Welcome to the BBC - Editorial Values' course, the BBC Academy has created 25 interactive online modules (between 15 - 30 minutes in length) to help users apply the BBC Editorial guidelines to BBC content. The courses include real programmes, role playing scenarios and master classes.
These modules are not mandatory but are highly recommended for all individuals making content for the BBC.
Topics include accuracy, impartiality, privacy, harm and offence, working with children, competitions, fairness, contributors, consent, and conducting surveys.
Please follow the below links to access the online modules:
Access for BBC staff.
As a publicly funded broadcaster the BBC has a responsibility to ensure that it trades fairly and has regard to the competitive impact of its activities. The BBC Fair trading guidelines provide guidance on how the BBC's activities – both public service and commercial – will trade fairly.
Visit the BBC Fair trading website for full details.
Programme release (holdback) policy
The BBC may consent to a programme being released into the secondary television and commercial video-on-demand (VoD) market during its primary rights license period when it considers further exploitation would not be in conflict with this license.
An independent production company must secure the BBC’s consent to the exploitation of any secondary television and/or commercial video-on-demand rights in the UK during the BBC’s licence period of the programme.
Download the BBC Programme release policy for secondary television and commercial video-on-demand programming in the UK (PDF). (Please see the A-Z for previous versions of the programme release policy.)
Library sales and holdback policy
A library sale is when extracts or rushes from a programme are used in another audio visual work. The BBC has supplied guidance on how independent production companies can exploit rights as early as possible in agreement with the BBC.
The BBC is committed to paying a real living wage. All suppliers making programmes for the BBC are required to commit to paying their production personnel (those working directly on a production) the appropriate living wage during their contract, according to the location of their work. The rate of the living wage the BBC is taking as a benchmark is set out by the Living Wage Foundation.
The BBC has issued a guide covering location and/or production incentives used in financing independent film and television productions for the BBC.
See the BBC Future Media Standards and Guidelines for the delivery of web material.
See the Programme website page for more details about delivery iPlayer, Red Button or programme website content.
The BBC is committed to providing a working environment where people are treated with respect and we extend that requirement to the production companies we work with. If a production company does not have its own policy they are encouraged to share the BBC’s guidance note regarding respect at work (PDF) with all members of the production team as early as possible in the production.
See the Working with children page for information about social media guidelines for children contributing to a production.
The BBC ticketing and stewarding code of practice ensures that the BBC quality, standards and values are upheld in regards to audiences. Having a single code of practice ensures BBC audiences get the best experience and productions are able to run more smoothly.
Please note: A responsible adult must accompany under-18s. Any exceptions to this policy must be referred to and agreed with a BBC Child Protection Adviser or the Head of Child Protection, Caroline Brant in advance of the show or event. Find out more about working with children.
The BBC Safety team can provide advice to help you complete your risk assessments. Contact the BBC Safety advice line Ask Al on 0464 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Find out more about production health and safety.
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