Access agreements can be a useful way of confirming and formalising the terms under which consent for access or other contributions is granted, avoiding time consuming disputes later in the production process. However, care is needed to avoid compromising editorial integrity.
It is wise to discuss access terms and any requirement for a formal agreement early in the production process to allow time for negotiation.
The BBC does not offer the opportunity for contributors to see or hear programmes prior to transmission, save in exceptional circumstances. Any viewing or listening rights provided to contributors or facilitating organisations should not include a right to demand changes.
Any access clauses concerning consent of contributors should be in keeping with the BBC's Editorial Guidelines, balancing the individual's right to privacy with the BBC's (and others') right to freedom of expression in the public interest.
Credits and links should only be given in keeping with the BBC's Editorial Guidelines and Credits Guidelines and must remain under our editorial control.
An inappropriately worded indemnity clause or form could result in the BBC being held liable for actions outside its control or responsibility. Editorial Policy and/or Programme Legal Advice and/or the Insurance Services Department may be consulted before agreeing an indemnity clause.
Advice on access agreements and indemnity forms is available from Editorial Policy and Programme Legal Advice. When access agreements cover non-editorial areas, including rights, re-use and facility fees, the relevant Legal and Business Affairs department should be consulted.
Many organisations, ranging from police forces to schools and hospitals to department stores require the BBC to enter into written agreements in return for facilitating access to their premises or staff. This can be a useful way of confirming and formalising the terms under which consent for access or other contributions is granted, avoiding time consuming disputes later in the production process.
However, care is needed to avoid compromising editorial integrity. This may be threatened by stipulations over what can and can't be recorded, the right to call a halt to recording, and - most notably - rights over the final edit. There is often temptation to believe that a programme will be made in a spirit of co-operation which will see both the BBC and the access-provider through any disagreements over content. This is often what happens in practice but it should not be relied upon - if the relationship breaks down, a badly worded agreement can lead to a loss of editorial control.
The contract or agreement may take the form of an Indemnity, which simply states the BBC's legal liability to the organisation providing facilities to the BBC, or it may be an access agreement covering a broad range of rights and obligations for both parties.