This section is to ensure that broadcasters avoid unjust or unfair treatment of individuals or organisations in programmes.
(Relevant legislation includes, in particular, sections 3(2)(f) and 326 of the Communications Act 2003 and sections 107(1) and 130 of the Broadcasting Act 1996 (as amended), Article 28 of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive, Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, and the BBC Charter and Agreement.)
This section and the following section on privacy are different from other sections of the Code. They apply to how broadcasters treat the individuals or organisations directly affected by programmes, rather than to what the general public sees and/or hears as viewers and listeners.
As well as containing a principle and a rule this section contains “practices to be followed” by broadcasters when dealing with individuals or organisations participating in or otherwise directly affected by programmes as broadcast. Following these practices will not necessarily avoid a breach of this section of the Code (Rule 7.1). However, failure to follow these practises will only constitute a breach where it results in unfairness to an individual or organisation in the programme. Importantly, the Code does not and cannot seek to set out all the “practices to be followed” in order to avoid unfair treatment.
The following provisions in the next section on privacy are also relevant to this section:
To ensure that broadcasters avoid unjust or unfair treatment of individuals or organisations in programmes.
7.1 Broadcasters must avoid unjust or unfair treatment of individuals or organisations in programmes.
Dealing fairly with contributors and obtaining informed consent
7.2 Broadcasters and programme makers should normally be fair in their dealings with potential contributors to programmes unless, exceptionally, it is justified to do otherwise.
7.3 Where a person is invited to make a contribution to a programme (except when the subject matter is trivial or their participation minor) they should normally, at an appropriate stage:
Taking these measures is likely to result in the consent that is given being ‘informed consent’ (referred to in this section and the rest of the Code as “consent”).
It may be fair to withhold all or some of this information where it is justified in the public interest or under other provisions of this section of the Code.
7.4 If a contributor is under sixteen, consent should normally be obtained from a parent or guardian, or other person of eighteen or over in loco parentis. In particular, persons under sixteen should not be asked for views on matters likely to be beyond their capacity to answer properly without such consent.
7.5 In the case of persons over sixteen who are not in a position to give consent, a person of eighteen or over with primary responsibility for their care should normally give it on their behalf. In particular, persons not in a position to give consent should not be asked for views on matters likely to be beyond their capacity to answer properly without such consent.
7.6 When a programme is edited, contributions should be represented fairly.
7.7 Guarantees given to contributors, for example relating to the content of a programme, confidentiality or anonymity, should normally be honoured.
7.8 Broadcasters should ensure that the re-use of material, i.e. use of material originally filmed or recorded for one purpose and then used in a programme for another purpose or used in a later or different programme, does not create unfairness. This applies both to material obtained from others and the broadcaster’s own material.
Opportunity to contribute and proper consideration of facts
7.9 Before broadcasting a factual programme, including programmes examining past events, broadcasters should take reasonable care to satisfy themselves that:
7.10 Programmes – such as dramas and factually-based dramas – should not portray facts, events, individuals or organisations in a way which is unfair to an individual or organisation.
7.11 If a programme alleges wrongdoing or incompetence or makes other significant allegations, those concerned should normally be given an appropriate and timely opportunity to respond.
7.12 Where a person approached to contribute to a programme chooses to make no comment or refuses to appear in a broadcast, the broadcast should make clear that the individual concerned has chosen not to appear and should give their explanation if it would be unfair not to do so.
7.13 Where it is appropriate to represent the views of a person or organisation that is not participating in the programme, this must be done in a fair manner.
Deception, set-ups and ‘wind-up’ calls
7.14 Broadcasters or programme makers should not normally obtain or seek information, audio, pictures or an agreement to contribute through misrepresentation or deception. (Deception includes surreptitious filming or recording.) However:
(See “practices to be followed” 8.11 to 8.15 in Section Eight: Privacy.)