Section 15: Conflicts of Interest
Declaration of Personal Interests
The onus is on the journalist, content producer or on-air talent to let the BBC know if they (or, in certain circumstances, their family or close personal contacts) have any outside interests which could be perceived as a conflict of interest.
All BBC production and editorial staff are required to declare any personal interest which may affect their employment with the BBC. These interests should be declared on a Declaration of Personal Interest form.
Most freelances are also asked to declare any commercial interests which may impinge on their work with the BBC. Independent producers should make a declaration at the time of commissioning.
Significant shareholdings should be declared by all production and editorial staff working for the BBC if they are in any way connected with the area in which they work or the subject matter they cover.
The area of most sensitivity is financial journalism where additional guidelines apply. On no account must early information acquired in the course of BBC programme work be used to trade ahead of the markets. It is illegal and unethical.
Heads of department will be aware of other particular sensitivities in their areas and will ask for particular detailed information concerning some financial or commercial interests.
Although efforts should be made to declare any interests well in advance, in some cases people will be asked to work on stories or content at relatively short notice and may find that they have some connection with the area to be covered. If they have any financial, commercial or business interest which might involve a conflict of interest, or might be perceived to involve a conflict of interest, they must inform their editor or head of department promptly. If the editor or head of department considers that there could be a real or perceived conflict of interest, they should deploy another person on the story or content. Editorial Policy may also be consulted.
In some cases the commercial activities or interests of presenters and other on-air talent could lead to a conflict of interest. To avoid this, when contracts are negotiated, talent should be asked to declare any commercial interests that may impinge on their on-air role or which are connected with the subject matter of the programme they present.
In some cases, particularly for presenters of journalistic or factual programmes, commercial interests may be deemed incompatible with their on-air role.
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