Section 11: War, Terror and Emergencies

Hijacking, Kidnapping, Hostage Taking and Sieges


In cases of hijacking, kidnapping, hostage taking, sieges, bombings or other similar events, we must be aware that anything we broadcast may be seen or heard, either directly or indirectly, by the perpetrators both in the UK and overseas.

It is important that we report demands in context.  We should also consider carefully the ethical issues raised by providing a platform to hijackers, kidnappers or hostage takers, especially if they make direct contact.  We must remain in editorial control of the reporting of events and ensure that:

  • we do not interview a perpetrator live on-air

(See Section 8 Reporting Crime and Anti-social Behaviour: 8.4.15 - 8.4.19)

  • we do not broadcast any video and/or audio provided by a perpetrator live on-air
  • we broadcast recordings made by perpetrators only after referral to a senior editorial figure or, for independents, to the commissioning editor
  • we install a delay when broadcasting live material of sensitive stories, for example a school siege or plane hijack. This is particularly important when the outcome is unpredictable and we may otherwise risk showing distressing material that is unsuitable for live broadcast.


When reporting stories relating to hijacking, kidnapping, hostage taking or sieges we must listen to advice from the police and other authorities about anything that, if reported, could exacerbate the situation.  Occasionally they will ask us to withhold or even to include information.  We will normally comply with a reasonable request, but we will not knowingly broadcast anything that is untrue.

Any request by the police or others for a complete news black-out must be referred to a senior editorial figure, who may wish to consult Editorial Policy.

(See Section 11 War, Terror and Emergencies: 11.4.3)