BBC programmes and services should be relevant and appropriate for all our audiences in all parts of the United Kingdom. Audiences approach our output in different ways and with different expectations because their lives are shaped by different:
civic and political institutions.
We should respect and reflect the national and regional differences and sensitivities and report all parts of the UK accurately, consistently and fairly, avoiding stereotypes or clichés.
We should note that varying differences exist between England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland which principally include:
the powers of their political institutions - Westminster, the Scottish Parliament, the National Assembly for Wales, Northern Ireland Assembly and the London Assembly.
local government and housing
timing and length of school holidays
Referrals to National Directors
Any content producers intending to produce programmes about Northern Ireland or significant projects involving the Republic of Ireland should refer their proposals at an early stage to Director, Northern Ireland.
Referral means a formal, usually written, submission of a programme plan. A referral may also be appropriate to Director, Editorial Policy & Standards.
All news programmes must consult the Head of News and Current Affairs Northern Ireland.
The contact point for all daily news issues is the Head of News and Current Affairs, Northern Ireland even though network news programmes have a permanent presence in Belfast.
Content producers must ensure that the relevant people are aware of any understandings reached with Director, Northern Ireland, or their nominee about a programme. The involves liaising with Presentation, Publicity, and the editor of Radio Times to ensure that publicity, promotion and presentation are all in the forms agreed.
Scotland and Wales
Content producers outside Scotland and Wales should inform the Director of the relevant nation in writing of their plans to produce programme material which significantly deals with national issues or themes, or which is based in the relevant nation.
Other Sources of Advice
Content producers with particular queries about national, regional or local issues should contact the relevant Newsrooms for advice.
Advice on the correct pronunciation of names and places can also be obtained from the relevant Newsroom and the BBC Pronunciation Unit.
When our UK audiences are affected differently by a story or issue we are reporting we should make it clear.
The Four Nations Impartiality Review, commissioned by the BBC Trust, demonstrated the need for us properly and proportionately to label content that has limited applicability across the UK.
We should normally explain the difference in the first sentence of our report and in News programmes signal it in the headline as well. News Correspondents should try to refer at least once to the people actually affected by the story in their package.
The exact method of differentiation will vary from story to story. It may be achieved by:
simply stating to which part of the UK a story relates;
referring briefly to how things are done in other parts of the UK
adopting a more creative "compare and contrast" approach. For example, in a story about schools, highlighting the differences in the curriculum across the country.
Style and Language
The easiest mistake to avoid is the casual and loose use of language which betrays a skewed perspective on a story or an inadequate understanding of institutions in different parts of the UK.
Common areas which cause problems include:
The word "nation" can mean different things to different people. We must be clear what is meant when the word is used. It may be clearer to say United Kingdom or "the UK";
Care should be taken in the use of "we" and "us", particularly in sports commentary and coverage involving one of the home nations. For example, not all Scottish football fans would want their support for the English football team to be presumed;
Groups which have "National" in their title do not always have a remit across the UK. For example, the National Union of Teachers is the biggest teaching union in England and Wales but it has no remit in Scotland, where the largest teaching union is the Educational Institute of Scotland.
We should use the correct names for the Parliament and Assemblies and the political posts in them:
the National Assembly for Wales;
the Northern Ireland Assembly;
the Scottish Parliament;
the London Assembly
UK Political Parties: We should refer to the three biggest political parties at Westminster (Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat) as the three main parties at Westminster or the three biggest UK parties and not the three main parties. They are not the three main parties in Scotland Wales or Northern Ireland;
We should be accurate and consistent in our graphics and insets. For example, we should not use the Union flag to illustrate a story about exam results in Scotland or England or Wales.
Geographical location should be described in a consistent way and with as much detail as is reasonable. We should take care when talking about "north, south, east and west..." Yorkshire may be the North if you are watching or listening in Southampton but not if you are in Inverness or Carlisle. If we mean the North of England we should say so.
The prefix Anglo- describes an English relationship with something and should not be used as a short hand for the UK's relationship. However, when its usage is so common as in, say, the Anglo-Irish Agreement (though this is not its official title) then it would be odd to use another phrase.
Job titles can be different. In Scotland, the word Depute (as in Depute Head at a school) is widely used. It is a word that may be unfamiliar to audiences in other parts of the UK. So in scripting it is acceptable to refer to someone as: "her deputy". However we should not change Depute to Deputy when using the official title.
The use of the word Principality as a substitute for Wales is not wrong but it can sound out of touch to Welsh audiences. The exception is when talking about the Prince of Wales and Wales as a principality in that respect.
Although interviewees may refer to Northern Ireland as Ulster we should not use Ulster as a synonym. Ulster is one of the four provinces of Ireland. It consists of nine counties - the six in Northern Ireland and three in the Republic of Ireland.
The term "province" is often used synonymously with Northern Ireland and it is normally appropriate to make secondary references to "the province".
We should take care when using the word "British" and "English" - they are not interchangeable. While some people in Northern Ireland regard themselves as "British" others regard themselves as "Irish". When referring to the population as a whole we should use the term "the people of Northern Ireland".
We should avoid using the word "mainland" when talking about Great Britain in relation to Northern Ireland.
Reporting the Devolved Institutions
There are separate rules of coverage for the devolved institutions (Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and the Northern Ireland Assembly) to the Westminster Parliament. See the Guidance Note Westminster Parliamentary Broadcasting for the rules of coverage for Westminster.
Below are the current rules of coverage for each institution
The Main Chamber
1. The Director should always adhere to the precedence of the Presiding Officer
2. The member who is selected to speak shall be shown on camera by medium close-up.
3. The camera should normally remain on the Member speaking until he or she is finished although cutaways are allowed
4. The arrival of prominent Members in the Chamber and shots of the public gallery are allowed
5. Cutaways as outlined in paragraphs 3 and 4 should be at the discretion of the television Director.
6. Long shots of the chamber are acceptable at any time.
7. An interruption or disruption by an MSP should be medium shot switching where appropriate to the Presiding Officer for his/her ruling
8. Officers of the Parliament and doorkeeper/security personnel attending in the Chamber should not normally be shown unless actively involved in the proceedings.
9. There should be no close up shots of Members' or Officials' papers or the electronic voting console
10. Broadcasters should not distort the meaning of Members' speeches in edits.
11. Special effects should not in principle be ruled out although the equipment being installed will not permit these. Requests from broadcasters who wish to use these techniques, at their expense, will be considered.
12. When in Committee a variation of wide, medium and close up shots may be used to best reflect the activities of the Committee. Officials or witnesses may be shown on camera as introduced by Ministers or the Committee Convener, or when answering questions at the direction of the Committee Convener.
Restrictions on the Use of Audio Visual Output:
Recordings of extracts of proceedings should not be used in light entertainment or political satire.
Recording or extracts of proceedings may only be used in party political broadcasts with the prior consent of any MSPs feature
Recordings or extracts of the proceedings may not be used in any form of advertising or publicity other than in the form of news and current affairs programme trailers
SCPB will retain copyright of the record of the proceedings of the Parliament
The host broadcaster should ensure that the signal provides a full, fair and accurate account of the proceedings of the Assembly.
The host broadcaster should provide coverage that follows the proceedings of the Assembly. This means that the coverage should concentrate primarily on the Assembly Member who is speaking. However, a variety of shots may be used to illustrate the geography of the Chamber.
The host broadcaster should provide coverage that clearly shows the method of voting in the Assembly.
The host broadcaster should switch to a picture of the Presiding Officer whenever he or she is speaking. A close-up or a wide-angle shot would be permissible
The host broadcaster should not show any demonstration or interference from the public that may take place inside the Chamber or public gallery. In the event of a disturbance involving the public on the Chamber floor, the host broadcaster should switch to a still image of the Senedd building and all audio feeds to broadcasters cut.
In the event of a disturbance in the public gallery, the host broadcaster should switch to a wide feed of the Presiding Officer's desk and initially cut to the Presiding Officer's microphone only. In the event of the disturbance being picked up on the Presiding Officer's microphone, all audio feeds from the Chamber shall be cut.
When the Presiding Officer or Deputy Presiding Officer suspends proceedings in the Chamber following an announcement, the host broadcaster should cut to a wide shot. After one minute, the feed to broadcasters should be switched to a still image of the Senedd building. The host broadcaster should, however, continue to record a wide shot of the chamber. The wide shot should again be offered to the broadcasters as a re-establishing shot as the period of suspension ends.
The host broadcaster should ensure that the signal provides a full, fair and accurate account of Committee proceedings.
The host broadcaster should concentrate primarily on the Assembly Member who is speaking in Committee. However, a variety of shots may be used to illustrate the geography of the Committee Rooms.
The host broadcaster should switch to a picture of the Committee Chair whenever he or she is speaking. A close-up or a wide-angle shot would be permissible.
The host broadcaster should not show any demonstration or interference from the public that may take place inside the committee rooms. In the event of a disturbance involving the public, the host broadcaster should switch to a still image of the Senedd building and all audio feeds to broadcasters cut.
When Committee proceedings are suspended following an announcement by the Chair, the host broadcaster should cut to a wide shot and audio feeds cut.
Use of footage for Broadcast purposes
When using the signal in their programmes, all broadcasting organisations should pay heed to the dignity of the Assembly. It would not be appropriate to use extracts from the coverage in any way that might trivialise the proceedings or undermine the authority of the Assembly.
Use of the media commentary booths:
The Chamber Media Commentary Booths may be used for live broadcasts during Plenary meetings subject to the adherence of this code of conduct. Any breach of this code could result in the withdrawal of this privilege.
When the Presiding Officer or Deputy Presiding Officer suspends proceedings in the Chamber following an announcement, broadcasters should ensure that no activity on the Chamber floor should be shown.
Broadcasters using the media commentary booths for live purposes should not show any demonstration or interference from the public that may take place inside the Chamber or public gallery.
Broadcasters using the media commentary booths should ensure that any information displayed on Members' computer screens is not legible to viewers. Users of the media commentary booths are also asked to respect the privacy of Assembly Members and officials while they work on their personal computers in the Chamber.
Northern Ireland Assembly
Statement Of Objectives:
The director should seek to give a full, balanced, fair, and accurate account of proceedings, with the aim of informing viewers about the work of the House.
Note: In carrying out this task, the director should have regard to the dignity of the Assembly and to it action as a working body rather than a place of entertainment.
Specific Guidelines For Picture Direction:
(a) Restriction on Filming Certain Parts of Chamber, etc
i) The press, visitors', and public galleries, the officials' boxes, and the area behind the Speaker's Chair, not being directly related to proceedings, should not be shown, other than unavoidably as part of wide-angle or other authorised shots of the Chamber.
ii) Great care should be exercised in showing the occupant of the Chair. Shots designed to show the Speaker receiving advice from a Clerk should not be used. Officers of the Assembly and Doorkeepers attending in the Chamber should not normally be shown, unless they are taking an active part in the proceedings.
iii) During Divisions, a wide-angle shot of the Chamber may be used. In addition, the following events relating to Divisions may be shown using the standard format described in sub-paragraph 11(b) (i): the putting of the Question, both initially and after the [two-minute] interval; any points of order which may arise, together with any response by the Chair; and the announcement by the Chair of the voting figures.
iv) In no circumstances should close-up shots of Members' or Officers' papers be taken.
(b) Style and Presentation
i) The standard format for depicting the Member who has the floor should be a head and shoulders shot, not a close-up.
ii) Subject to sub-paragraphs (iii) to (vii) below, the camera should normally remain on the Member speaking until he or she has finished.
iii) Wide-angle shots of the Chamber may be used from time to time; for example, while the director is seeking a closer shot of a Member who has just been called, at times when no single Member has the floor, and to establish the geography of the House for the benefit of viewers.
iv) As a matter of general practice, the director should switch to a picture of the occupant of the Chair whenever he or she rises; this principle should be applied all the more strictly during incidents of disorder or alterations between the Chair and other Members.
v) Occasional cut-away shots to illustrate individual reactions are allowed, but only to show a Member who has been referred to by the Member speaking.
vi) Medium-angle shots, including over-the-should shots, are permissible where the director wishes to show both the Member who has the floor and another Member intervening or seeking to do so.
vii) Occasional group shots - mid-way between the standard head and shoulders shot and the wide-angle shot - are permitted; such shots may be used either for the purposes of showing the reaction of a group of Members, or in order to establish the geography of a particular part of the Chamber.
(c) Special Camera Techniques
i) In no circumstances are split-screen shots to be used.
ii) Panning shots along the benches should not normally be used.
iii) Occasional zoom shots are permitted.
Treatment Of Disorder:
(a) Disorder in the Galleries
i) Neither interruptions from, nor demonstrations in, the galleries are "proceedings", and as such they should in no circumstances be televised.
ii) If an incident of the sort described in sub-paragraph (i) above occurs in such a way as to interfere with an otherwise permissible shot, the director should cut either to a wide-angle shot of the Chamber which does not show the offending incident, or to the occupant of the Chair.
(b) Disorder on the Floor of the House
Televising may continue during incidents of grave disorder or unparliamentary behaviour for as long as the sitting continues, but only subject to the following guidelines:
i) On occasions of grave disorder, the director should focus on the occupant of the Chair for as long as proceedings continue, or until order has been restored. (By "grave disorder" is meant incidents of individual, but more likely collective, misconduct of such a seriously disruptive nature as to place in jeopardy the continuation of the sitting.)
ii) In cases of unparliamentary behaviour, the director should normally focus on the occupant of the Chair, and should certainly do so if he or she rises, but occasional wide-angle shots of the Chamber are acceptable. (The phrase "unparliamentary behaviour" is intended to signify any conduct which amounts to defiance of the Chair but which falls short of grave disorder.)