We should be reluctant to use video or audio news releases or other material supplied by individual organisations who are the subject of our news coverage.
Material supplied by third parties may pose may pose issues of privacy, as well as concerns about accuracy, anonymity, offence, defamation, contempt of court or data protection.
Where material is made available by the perpetrators of hijackings, kidnaps, hostage taking, sieges, bombings or other similar events, great care should be taken to consider the ethical issues around the broadcast or other distribution of the material.
What are Audio and Video News Releases?
Audio and Video News Releases are a means by which official bodies, commercial companies and campaigning organisations seek to gain exposure for activities or issues, by supplying broadcasters with ready-made programme content. They may take the form of a feature, interview material or pictures and may have been produced by the organisation itself, or by production companies acting on its behalf. They may be distributed directly to broadcasters, or the material be put on video sharing or social media websites.
Using Audio and Video News Releases
We should be reluctant to use video and audio news releases or other material supplied by an outside organisation. This includes material from companies, emergency services, Government agencies, interest groups, campaigners and charities. The fact that the organisation has a vested interest in the subject matter may give rise to concerns about the editorial integrity of the material and cause the audience to doubt the accuracy of the content. Whilst the organisation supplying the material may claim that it has been produced objectively, we cannot vouch for the circumstances in which it was gathered or the editorial standards applied.
We should normally only use extracts from such releases when the BBC is incapable of gathering the material itself and its use is justified by its editorial significance. The overall editorial value of any material must be considered, rather than simply its pictorial impact.
Any use of Audio and Video News Releases, or other material supplied by outside organisations, should be clearly labelled. We must state who supplied it and explain any relevant circumstances in which it was gathered.
The following advice also applies:
Audio or Video News Releases of news events or press conferences from which the BBC has been deliberately excluded should be used only in exceptional circumstances. The source of the material should be made clear, along with the fact that we were prevented from gathering the material ourselves.
The use of interview or soundbite material should normally be avoided; we cannot be sure of the circumstances in which the interview was carried out. If it is used, we should normally take steps to inform our audience of the source of the material. It may also be appropriate to explain why there is no BBC interview.
Privacy and Fairness Issues
Consideration should be given to the privacy of individuals who may be featured in the material and whether the organisation supplying the content has obtained any necessary consent. For example, video from emergency services may raise issues of intrusion when victims or patients are depicted.
A News Release that tells story about the organisation that provided it may give an unrealistic or overly favourable impression of that organisation. Such material should normally be used only to illustrate the way in which the organisation is promoting itself, rather than to tell the story itself.
Sequences including commentary or incidental music provided by the supplier of the material should be used only to show how the organisation promotes or portrays itself.
If a Video News Release is used to illustrate a more general story, shots selected should avoid promoting the supplier of the material or their products and services. Wherever possible, the news release should be used in conjunction with other illustrative material.
We should not accept any editorial restrictions placed by the supplier on the use of any Audio or Video News Release material.