Section 13: Re-use and Reversioning

Harm and Offence Issues


Archive material that is made available, re-used or reversioned must take account of the requirements of the Editorial Guidelines on Harm and Offence in force at the time it is made available.  Consideration should be given to the following:

  • Changes in public attitudes to potentially offensive material, including nudity, language, portrayal, alcohol, illegal drug use and smoking
  • Any change in, for example, timeslot or channel, which would have a material effect on audience expectations
  • The way that many people browse the internet often by following links from search engines or coming across BBC material that has been embedded on other sites, means that we cannot presume that online users are always prepared for the material they find.  They may not immediately realise that the content is archive, possibly increasing the risk of offence.

When archive material would not normally be broadcast by the BBC today because standards or attitudes have changed, there may be reasons to make it available now because, for example, it is of historical or cultural interest.  However, the material should be appropriately scheduled and/or signposted and it should be clear to the audience that it is not contemporary.

(See Section 5 Harm and Offence: 5.1 Generally Accepted Standards and 5.4.2 - 5.4.3)


On occasion, current events and circumstances may make it inappropriate to re-use, reversion or make archive material available and, occasionally, may require the removal of on-demand material or links.

(See Section 3 Accuracy: 3.4.22 - 3.4.24)

(See Guidance: Taking Down Online Material)


We must ensure that the use of traumatic archive material, particularly when it features identifiable people, is editorially justified.  It should never be used as "wallpaper" or to illustrate general themes.  Any restrictions placed on the re-use of archive material must be observed.

(See Section 13 Re-use and Reversioning: 13.4.6 - 13.4.11)